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Myers will retire March 1

Myers will retire March 1

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 9:03 pm

By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter In a recent interview with The Messenger, Gary Myers confirmed his pending retirement as executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency (TWRA). The retirement is effective March 1. “I’ve got some plans, but I don’t want to talk about it yet,” said Myers, 73. With a workforce of 740 statewide, TWRA enforces wildlife laws and regulations promulgated by its parent agency, the 13-member Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission (TWRC). TWRA’s budget is funded by sportsmen’s hunting and fishing fees and federal aid. There are no state taxes involved. “I’m really proud of our agency,” Myers said. “I’m proud of our people, proud of all their accomplishments over the years. We’ve got a lot of people who really care about what they’re doing. They wanted to do a good job, and they did it.” Three TWRC commissioners have been appointed to a search committee to select a replacement for Myers. They are Todd Shelton of Greenville, Mitch Parks of Nashville and Skip Symington of Henning. Myers leaves with 34 years state service and almost two years military service. He came to Tennessee from Colorado in 1974. He initially served as TWRA’s assistant director in charge of field operations until 1978 when he was appointed acting director to succeed then-director Harvey Bray. In 1978 he was became the permanent director with the title of executive director. He said the agency’s top accomplishment in his years as director — “and the most significant thing to our sportsmen” — is the recovery of Tennessee’s deer herd population. “When I got here, they were killing 11,000 a year. I was a big game supervisor in Colorado before I came here, so I thought I knew a little bit about deer management,” he said. “I said, ‘I’ll see if we’re over-harvesting the herd.’ I looked at it and noticed that in one county, only one deer had been killed. I couldn’t fathom that we weren’t killing more deer than that. “We turned it around. I’m very proud of what our people did in that area.” The deer numbers “just kept going up and up and up,” as reflected by “a pretty little graph that, if it were the stock market, you’d be wealthy.” A native of Canyon, Texas, Myers attended West Texas State Teachers College but left after a semester to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps. He trained in aviation electronics in Jacksonville, Fla., and in radio technology in Millington. He applied for and was accepted for enrollment at the U.S. Naval Academy. He left the academy in his sophomore year to get married. He later earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in wildlife management at Colorado State University. “I’m really fortunate to be kept (as TWRA director) this long,” he said. “It’s hard for a person to stay in a place long enough to make a difference. I got to stay here long enough to watch everybody make a difference. It was great.” He said one of the toughest issues he’s had to deal with in his 30-plus years as director was the West Tennessee Tributaries Project. WTTP, a brainchild of the U.S. Corps of Engineers that began in the 1960s and continued into the 1980s, proposed to channelize about 200 miles of the Obion-Forked Deer rivers in West Tennessee. About 45 miles of it was completed before it was stopped by federal court injunction. “We didn’t conquer that one,” Myers said. “We tried hard to find a compromise everybody could live with, but we couldn’t find it.” Published in The Messenger 11.26.08

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