By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

LAWRENCE -- After leading the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks for nine years, Mike Hayden announced that his appearance at Thursday's Kansas Wildlife Commission would be his last as secretary of the department.

Initially, Gov.-elect Sam Brownback had planned to announce his appointment on Thursday, but delayed the announcement until today.

"This is my last commission meeting as secretary of the department," Hayden said at the outset of Thursday's regular commission meeting.

An Atwood native, Hayden was a former Kansas governor and Speaker of the House. He also served as assistant secretary for the Department of Interior for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Meeting in Lawrence, the commission audio was broadcast live over the Internet, a prelude to plans to broadcast video live as well in future meetings.

"It's been an honor and a privilege for me to work with you and hopefully our paths will cross many times in the future," Hayden said in announcing he was attending his last commission meeting as secretary.

He also praised employees of the department, hailing its 105-year history. He said the state's parks and wildlife are in good shape, thanks to the department's employees.

"I've had the privilege of being a state employee for 28 years and I'm proud of that," he said. "I'm proud of you."

He cited live audio as moving forward.

"I just want to say I feel real good because I know I'm leaving the department in real good hands," he said. "I just want to thank you personally, and I want to say if I can help you in your careers down the road don't hesitate to ask."