Game Warden Jay Harvey, based in Atoka County, was honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation as the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2018 during a regular meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission on Aug. 12 in Durant.
Presenting the award were Don Chitwood, eastern Oklahoma regional director for NWTF, and Terry Bourne, president of the Little Dixie Chapter of Durant.
Harvey, who won the same honor from NWTF in 2004, began his career as a Game Warden in 1992. He has been involved with various NWTF activities, especially with Jakes events. He has volunteered with the weeklong Wildlife Youth Camp for 20 years, serving seven years as camp director. In 2005, Harvey started a wildlife law enforcement class at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. And in 2017, his proficiency in airboat operations allowed the rescue or evacuation of more than 200 people as he volunteered for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.
This past year, Harvey coordinated the annual conference of the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association held in Oklahoma City. In both 2010 and 2018, he was selected as the Wildlife Department’s Officer of the Year. And just before handing over a plaque to Harvey, Chitwood told Commissioners that Harvey came in second place for the national NWTF officer of the year award.
Department Director J.D. Strong introduced Education Section Supervisor Colin Berg, who recently won a Special Achievement Award from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies for his efforts in making Oklahoma a Top 5 state in conservation and outdoor recreation education programs.
In 2004, Berg brought the national Archery in the Schools Program to Oklahoma, beginning with eight schools and about 500 student participants. Oklahoma NASP took off in popularity, and today more than 550 schools and 59,000 students participate. As OKNASP continued to grow, Berg was instrumental in getting the Wildlife Department’s other educational programs into schools, including Oklahoma Hunter Education, Fishing in the Schools, Explore Bowhunting, Explore Bowfishing and Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports Program.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Commissioners were informed about Fisheries Division South Central Region activities. Regional Supervisor Matt Mauck presented an overview of the nine-county region and the regular tasks completed each year by the Fisheries biologists and technicians. Also, Hatchery Manager Gordon Schomer spoke about the Durant State Fish Hatchery, the largest of the Department’s four fish hatcheries that, after 102 years of operation, continues to produce millions of fish each year that are stocked across the state.
After the meeting, several Commissioners joined hatchery staff for a tour of the facility.
In other business, Commissioners:
• Recognized Assistant Director Melinda Streich for 30 years of service and her pending retirement; Law Enforcement Chief Bill Hale for his pending retirement; and Game Warden Supervisor Lt. Patrick Matlock, based in Okmulgee County, for 25 years of service.
• Accepted donations from Quail Forever chapters totaling $3,200 for habitat management equipment and the Stars and Stripes License Project.
• Heard Director J.D. Strong’s regular report on various division activities in the Department, along with updates on various federal legislative matters. Strong said a final report was expected this month on a comprehensive license study, which will be considered in future recommendations as to the number of licenses and permits sold by the Department, streamlining those offerings, and making pricing adjustments.
• Received an update on the Wildlife Department’s email communications activities from Information Supervisor Micah Holmes.
• Approved emergency rules with amendments to establish three-day special use permits for nonprofit and charity groups.
• Authorized the Director, by a 6-1 vote, to pursue the purchase of property in Woods County.
• Reappointed four directors to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation.
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.