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  • Ken Perrotte

Virginia DWR Named Top State Agency for 2023 by Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation

DWR logo

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation presented the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources with its State Fish and Wildlife Agency of the Year award Thursday at the 20th Annual National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses Summit in Dewey Beach, Delaware.

The annual gathering brings sportsmen and legislators together to discuss issues at state and federal levels. The CSF-managed, state-level caucuses are a primary means of initiating, tracking or influencing issues percolating within legislatures in all 50 states.

Virginia DWR Legislative Partnership

The Virginia DWR’s strong partnership with the Virginia Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus is one of the primary reasons the agency was tapped for this year’s honor, according to John Culclasure, CSF’s director, southeastern states, who presented the award.

Culclasure praised Virginia DWR’s steady partnership and transparent rule-making processes, singling out Executive Director Ryan Brown as someone “responsive, easy to work with, and knowledgeable about natural resource management issues.”

Brown regularly attends the weekly caucus meetings during the Virginia legislative session and DWR staff members often speak at the meetings to provide updates on deer, turkey, elk, bear, waterfowl and upland birds management in the Commonwealth, Culclasure said. That, along with DWR’s strong support for pro-sportsmen’s policies and the way the agency values public opinion as those policies are formulated also factored into the selection. He lauded the DWR’s protocol of providing both online and in-person opportunities for the public to provide input as policies and regulations are reviewed, plus the practice of establishing stakeholder committees for difficult issues, as is the case with the latest, ongoing study group looking at deer hunting with dogs in Virginia.

Also noteworthy is the DWR’s effort to regularly update its website during the Virginia General Assembly legislative session with information on the status of bills that impact hunting, fishing, trapping, and related conservation issues. “I’m not aware of any other state fish and wildlife agency, at least in the Southeast, that does anything similar,” Culclasure said.

Support by the DWR Board for supporting Sunday hunting on public lands, the agency’s active approach to addressing chronic wasting disease in deer, the creation of a limited elk hunting opportunity and various communication tools including the DWR website and newsletters for constituents were also praised.

Brown, accompanied by Secretary of Natural Resources Travis Voyles and Deputy Secretary Corey Scott accepted the award.


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