The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s proposed strategic plan among its agenda items at the March meeting.
This month’s meeting was held in one day, on Thursday, March 27 at the TWRA’s Ray Bell Region II Building. The one-day meeting was a change from the usual two-day format.
Commission members received a copy of the TWRA’s new strategic plan last month. TWRA Executive Director Ed Carter gave a brief presentation on the plan. The new plan, to be unveiled in 2014, is unlike any previous strategic plan implemented by the agency.
In the past, due to the depletion of wildlife resources throughout the early parts of the 20th century, the agency focused mainly on species restoration and protection. The agency followed the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation that identifies wildlife as a public trust belonging to all the people. The agency has successfully restored many species that were once considered rare or non-existent in the state.
The strategic plan identifies four core areas in which the agency strives to provide these services while still protecting our natural resources. The areas are Wildlife Management, Outdoor Recreation, Law Enforcement, and Information and Education.
The plan, approved unanimously by the commission, will begin to be implemented immediately.
In other business, new statewide Waterfowl Coordinator Joe Benedict was introduced to the TFWC, and reported on the recently-held technical meeting of the Mississippi Flyway Council held in Nashville.
The TWRA supported a recommendation for a new teal season for northern states and proposed increasing the daily bag limit to six birds and for more teal-only days during the September wood duck and teal season. A teal assessment study completed in 2013 indicates that teal are under-harvested. Final decisions on these recommendations will be made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in August.
Mr. Benedict said a U.S. Senate bill was introduced to increase the Federal duck stamp from $15 to $25 to maintain buying power. However, no companion bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, which indicates that the bill is unlikely to pass this year.
TWRA will ask to sell federal duck stamps via point of sale vendors this fall. Currently, this is a pilot project with eight states participating. This will provide convenience for hunters to purchase a stamp and receive them by mail.
Brant Miller, TWRA staff forester, gave a report to the commission regarding the announcement of the agency receiving the Arbor Day Foundation’s 2014 Forest Lands Leadership Award. The award is in recognition for the TWRA’s bottomland hardwood forest restoration program in West Tennessee. The award is given annually to an individual or organization from across the nation whose outstanding work provides leadership in advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forest land. The TWRA will officially receive the award next month in Nebraska City, Ne.
Director Carter updated the commission on the upcoming 2014 Governor’s One-Shot Turkey Hunt and country music concert this weekend. The event serves as the major fundraiser for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. The TWRF assists the TWRA with education programs as well as land acquisition to provide opportunities for habitat conservation/restoration and public hunting, helping preserve quality outdoors experiences for future generations.
Rusty Rust, a professional bass angler, made a presentation on Florida bass and fishing tournaments held in Tennessee.
Bobby Wilson, TWRA Fisheries Division chief, announced that the agency has received an aquatic nuisance species grant for $24,286. Real Estate Division Chief Tim Churchill announced that the agency had received a Federal grant for $417,000 to purchase 205 acres in Hickman County. The TFWC approved both budget expansions.
The TFWC will return to its normal two-day meeting format next month. Committee meeting will be held on Thursday, April 24, at 1 p.m. while the formal meeting starts at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 25. The public is invited to attend.