Bryan Martyn, Arizona State Parks director. Photo courtesy of AZCentral.com

Today’s video is courtesy of AZcentral. com.

Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martyn wants to hear directly from customers and his employees about what’s good — or bad — at state park sites during a three-month barnstorming tour that began this week.

The retired 20-year military veteran who became parks director in May 2012 plans to sleep in a tent at 19 different locations in state parks through Dec. 7.

“In the old days, I would have just slept on the ground, but my back won’t let me do that anymore,” Martyn said with a laugh. “I’ve lived in a tent in the middle of Afghanistan. This is not that hard. I will go out and camp. This is what I like to do.”

Martyn plans to fish, hike and explore various state campgrounds, holding 3:30 p.m. meet-and-greet sessions and 6 p.m. campfire chats daily.

“There is some fun involved, I won’t deny that,” Martyn said. “But my job is to go out and manage the employees, and talk to the people who visit the parks to see what we are doing and what we can do better.”

Martyn said in a telephone interview that his first event Wednesday at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood was “great.” He spoke Thursday as he traveled on to Red Rock State Park in Sedona for the next leg of his tour.

Wednesday’s activities included cutting cattails (wetland plants with unique flowering spikes), taking a run and visiting with park volunteers in Cottonwood.

“I just listened to their ideas and issues they thought were important,” Martyn said. “They are the lifeblood of keeping things going.”

Martyn said he came up with the idea to visit the parks after attending a national meeting of state parks directors a few weeks ago.

In addition to visiting with customers and staff, Martyn said he wants to see firsthand the conditions of bathrooms and trails.

“I have a chance to take notes. The best part of my job is, I can fix the majority of the problems,” he said. “It’s unfiltered. In any company, the stuff that gets to the boss sometimes gets filtered … People can speak their minds, and I want to hear what’s going on in the parks.”

State Parks Board member Walter Armer said it was a good idea for Martyn to leave his Phoenix office and get around the state to its various parks.

“There is no better way for him to connect,” Armer said. “It’s hard to beat when you have someone there in person.”

Armer said the Parks Department largely relies on survey responses from customers about their experiences and how staff members are performing. He said Martyn’s trip will give him a first-hand look at everything.

Martyn’s tour will include nights in Safford, Winslow, Tucson and Apache Junction. His longest stretch will occur in October, when he will visit at least eight sites.

“I plan on sitting around the campfire, and I brought the s’mores,” Martyn said. “And I’ll be doing my cooking, of course.”

Where He’s Camping

Arizona State Parks Director Bryan Martyn is traveling the state to meet those who use Arizona’s parks. He began his trip Wednesday at Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood. Here are the other state parks he plans to visit.

Oct. 2: Patagonia Lake (Patagonia); Oct. 3: Dankworth Pond unit at Roper Lake (Safford); Oct. 4: Roper Lake (Safford); Oct. 5: Kartchner Caverns (Benson); Oct. 9: Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area (Show Low); Oct. 10: Lyman Lake (St. Johns); Oct. 11: Homolovi (Winslow); Oct. 18: Tonto Natural Bridge (Payson); Nov. 2: Alamo Lake (Wenden); Nov. 13: Picacho Peak (Picacho); Nov. 14: Catalina (Tucson); Nov. 15: Oracle (Oracle); Nov. 23: Lost Dutchman (Apache Junction; )Dec. 4: Buckskin Mountain (Parker); Dec. 5: River Island (Parker); Dec. 6: Cattail Cove (Lake Havasu); and Dec. 7: Lake Havasu (Lake Havasu).