Brazil becomes deputy director as new leadership emerges
LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today named 25-year veteran Loren Hitchcock to serve as the agency's director. Hitchcock, who began his career with the AGFC in 1985, has served as interim director since Sept. 1. Hitchcock was elected by acclamation with the support of all seven commissioners.
"Loren's experience and vision for the future of our agency make him the perfect fit for our organization," Commission Chairman Craig Campbell said. "He's a top-flight administrator and his knowledge of our agency is unsurpassed. He's the right person to lead us into the future."
Hitchcock began his AGFC career as a wildlife officer. In 1989, he became chief of the Enforcement Division, a position he held until 2003. In 2001, he took on additional duties as deputy director.
"It's a tremendous honor to be asked to lead the dedicated, professional staff at our agency," Hitchcock said. "It is with these wonderful people that we can build a new era of efficiency and professionalism at Game and Fish. We'll work together as a team to take advantage of the opportunities we have ahead of us to tell Arkansans about the wonderful opportunities that exist in Arkansas's incredible outdoors, and the role this Commission plays in managing those resources."
Hitchcock's proactive approach in building a new era of leadership was evident in his first act as director. He announced this morning that Don Brazil would be named deputy director and chief of staff. The Commission voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to support the decision.
Brazil was among four finalists for the AGFC director's position. He has been serving as deputy administrator for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
"Don understands the big picture of wildlife conservation and has been instrumental in helping Mississippi work as a cohesive team to present that state as a prime site for outdoor recreation," Hitchcock said. "Don brings the type of leadership and vision we need to move into a new era at our agency."
The Commission met with the four finalists for the director's post earlier this week. In those discussions, Hitchcock and Brazil emerged as the two leading candidates for the position.
"This is an extraordinary day for the Commission - to have our top two candidates on board to begin building for the future," Campbell said. "We are fortunate to have two visionary leaders whose passion for wildlife and conservation efforts positions us to take advantage of all opportunities ahead of the agency. We're building for the future and this puts a solid leadership foundation in place."
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved $100,000 for the planning and design costs to develop a new Northeast Arkansas Regional Office building in Jonesboro.
- Approved $67,748 to repair the spillway on Cox Creek Lake Dam at Leola. The dam was damaged during a flood. Federal funds will reimburse the agency a total of $52,748.
- Approved the renaming of the Independence County Firing Range near Batesville. The range will now be known as the Paul H. "Rocky" Willmuth Sport Shooting Complex. Willmuth was instrumental in securing funds to build the facility.
- Approved the donation of an elk permit to the Arkansas chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
- Approved the donation of a vehicle to Arkansas State University on the Ouachita National Forest. Commissioners also approved the donation of a vehicle to the University of Arkansas for turkey research on the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest.
- Heard a report on the recently-completed elk season from elk biologist Cory Gray. This season, hunters harvested 33 elk. On public land, hunters harvested 14 elk and another 19 elk were killed on private land.
- Announced that the AGFC had received the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Diversity in Natural Resources Award. The agency also received the Sport Fish Restoration Act Award for its work on Dry Run Creek.