NWTF Donation to Wildlife Department Marks Milestone

November 11, 2016

Gathered for the presentation of a $100,000 donation from National Wild Turkey Federation are, from left, Kara Jo Lorenz, Earl Gilbert, Joe Williams, T.J. Goodpasture, Gene T. Miller, Becky Evans, Gary Purdy, Don Chitwood, and O.D. Curry. From right are Wildlife Department representatives Bill Dinkines, Wade Free, J.D. Strong and Alan Peoples.  (Don P. Brown/ODWC)

    Several sizable donations drew recognition at the regular November meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission on Monday, and one of them served as a special milestone for a loyal partner in conservation.

    The Oklahoma state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) presented a $100,000 donation that will fund specified projects to benefit wild turkey and upland habitat. Senior Regional Director Gary Purdy spoke about the donation and about being proud of his group's accomplishments working with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

    "This will be my last appearance before the Commission as an NWTF employee," he said, referring to his planned retirement in January. "One of my goals when I started was to reach $5 million in donations in Oklahoma before I retire." Purdy saw that goal reached in August.

    He said he had another goal: To see NWTF's first $100,000 donation to Oklahoma raised by local chapters. This year's donation, presented by state chapter President O.D. Curry, was originally $98,000. Purdy appealed to the NWTF's state directors, who agreed to pitch in the needed $2,000 to make Purdy's goal a reality.

     Among the projects receiving funds through this donation are an Osage County land purchase, habitat management and equipment for WMAs, Archery in the Schools, Scholastic Shooting Sports Program, and travel expenses for technical committee members.

    Also, Scott Hood, a Trout Unlimited national board of trustees member, completed his group's donation valued at $16,950 by handing Department Director J.D. Strong the key to a new restroom built at the Simp and Helen Watts Management Unit on the Lower Illinois River. With this improvement, Hood said anglers and hunters will no longer have to take care of their business in the "latrine ravine" next to the parking area.

    In other business, Commissioners learned about quail management activities on Cross Timbers WMA, including grazing, fencing, prescribed burning, exotic grass conversion and mechanical control of woody vegetation. To recognize the quail management successes at Cross Timbers, area biologist Brandon Baker was presented to 2015 Firebird Award from the National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative.

    Also during Monday's meeting, Commissioners:

  • Viewed a presentation by Matt Mauck, Fisheries Division south-central region supervisor, on Lake Texoma and its successful striped bass fishery. Mauck cited recent improvements in boating access, success in attracting visitors, number of fishing guides and the self-sustaining striper resource as factors that make Texoma a "regional economic engine."
  • Recognized John Davenport, Holdenville Fish Hatchery supervisor, with the 2016 Fisheries Division Professional of the Year Award.
  • Watched a demonstration of the E-Check online site where hunters and anglers can report their harvest when required to do so. A new look and new technology allows sportsmen in the field to check in their harvest and obtain a confirmation number even without Internet access. For his efforts to develop the new site, IT developer Rodney Derrick was given a special recognition award.
  • Received a favorable report from Finley and Cooke PLLC on the fiscal year 2016 annual financial audit indicating excellent compliance and accountability.
  • Returned after an executive session and authorized Director Strong to negotiate the purchase of property in Johnston County.
  • Recognized Capt. Tracy Daniel, game warden district chief based in Kay County, for 35 years of service; and Lt. Tom Cartwright, game warden supervisor based in Hughes County, for 30 years of service.

    The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

    The next scheduled Commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 5, 2016, at the Wildlife Department's temporary headquarters, 2145 NE 36th St. in Oklahoma City.

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