National Rifle Association donated $122,720 to ODWC toward the agency's required share of Wildlife Restoration Program funds, and an additional $25,000 supporting gun range construction at Packsaddle WMA. At the presentation is Lance Meek, ODWC Hunter Education coordinator; Peter Churchbourne, director, Hunter's Leadership Forum, NRA; and ODWC Director J.D. Strong. (Photo by Micah Holmes/ODWC)
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission welcomed Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell to its regular monthly meeting April 4 at the historic Coleman Theater in Miami, Okla., where he provided an update on the highly successful Oklahoma Fishing Trail and recognized Ricky Turpin, the Oklahoma Fishing Trail Anniversary contest winner. Pinnell serves as Secretary of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet.
The Commission also approved changes to the Wildlife Department's Controlled Hunts Program. The changes, which will be enacted next year for the 2023 hunts, include a hybrid application system that maintains the same hunt choice options as are currently allowed (up to 14 hunt choices across four categories for $5 application fee) while also allowing hunters extra choices at $3 per choice. Also new, half of all once-in-a-lifetime permits (elk and antelope) will be drawn from those with 20 preference points or more, while everyone who applies will be eligible for the other 50 percent of permits.
Commissioners acknowledged a contribution of $122,720 to the ODWC in the form of state matching funds toward the agency's required share of Wildlife Restoration Program funds. The funds are derived from the National Rifle Association (NRA) allowing the free use of their online Hunter Education Program for Oklahoma hunters. The value of the course, because it is not charged to the hunter, can be used for match credit by ODWC. The Commission also acknowledged a donation for $25,000 from NRA in support of gun range construction on Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area. Peter Churchbourne, Director, Hunter's Leadership Forum, National Rifle Association, was at the meeting to provide the Commission background on this beneficial partnership.
In other business, Commissioners:
- Heard a presentation on Wildlife Management Area activities for the Northeast Region from Mike Plunkett, Northeast Region Supervisor. The report included an update on an ambitious new road access project at Sans Bois Wildlife Management Area.
- Heard a presentation on ODWC's Boating Access and Shooting Range Programs in Oklahoma from Nicholas Shenold, Boating Access/Shooting Range Coordinator for ODWC.
- Approved the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Logo Sharing Policy.
- Recognized employees for their years of service: Rhonda Hurst, Executive Assistant, 30 years; John Rempe, Wildlife Biologist, 25 years; Lance Meek, Senior Communication and Education Specialist, 20 years; Micah Holmes, Assistant Chief of Communication and Education, 20 years.
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 regular Commission meeting is set for 9 a.m. June 6, 2022, at the John D. Groendyke Wildlife Conservation Building, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City.