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Former DWR central region chair appointed to Utah Wildlife Board

By Connor Richards daily Herald - | Jun 22, 2021
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Fisheries technician Sean Evans carries buckets of fish to be measured, weighed and filleted while members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources record data from a sampling of fish from the reservoir at Deer Creek State Park west of Wallsburg on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Fish wait to be filleted while members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources record data from a sampling of fish from the reservoir at Deer Creek State Park west of Wallsburg on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Sportfish project leader Mike Slater cuts open a fish while while members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources record data from a sampling of fish from the reservoir at Deer Creek State Park west of Wallsburg on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

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Regional aquatics manager Chris Crockett picks up a fish to be measured, weighed and filleted while members of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources record data from a sampling of fish from the reservoir at Deer Creek State Park west of Wallsburg on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Gary Nielsen is one step closer to serving on the Utah Wildlife Board after a legislative committee voted on Monday to approve his appointment.

Nielsen, a high school teacher, spent eight years on the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Central Region Advisory Counsel, including two years as chair. The DWR Central Region, which is headquartered in Springville, services all of Utah County, as well as portions of Tooele, Salt Lake and Juab counties.

The Utah Wildlife Board is responsible for setting Utah’s hunting and wildlife rules, including issuing permits for deer, elk, bison and bighorn sheep hunts. Earlier this year, the wildlife board voted to approve a decrease in the number of general season permits for the 2021 deer hunt in order to help sustain healthy deer populations across the state.

During a Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Confirmation Committee hearing on Monday, Nielsen told lawmakers about his interest in wildlife, which began when his biologist father took him bird watching.

“And we didn’t just look at birds,” he said, “we looked at, you know, yellow-shafted Flicker(s), … (and) we watched marmots, we didn’t just watch big squirrels. And so it started early.”

Nielsen also talked about a wildlife management program he started, noting that “I’ve taught thousands of students about being careful with the outdoors, the difference between preservation and conservation.”

“I believe, honestly, that the key to a sustainable future is to get a little more understanding out there,” he said.

Nielsen added that he has a “good foundation” in both wildlife biology and wildlife management, “and so I understand the needs of the outdoors, I understand this mystical balance that we all talk about.”

The former central region chair said understanding the difference between conservation and presentation is “key to a sustainable future.”

“There’s (a) big enough presence of people on the landscape that we need to very carefully manage what’s going on with the wild things, or we’re not going to leave them any place to be,” he said.

Nielsen also told the confirmation committee about his experience raising five sons, noting that he has used “the outdoors as their teacher and their school.”

“And we’ve had a good experience,” he said. “I think the values and understanding that you can gain by just being aware of what’s going on in your surroundings are invaluable.”

Sen. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green, praised Nielsen, who he said he has known for “30-plus, 40 years maybe now.”

“And I’ve watched him work on the land and raise his sons, and I’ve watched him in the classroom,” the Sanpete County lawmaker said. “And I’ve watched him with his donation of time to conservation groups … (and) just about anything outdoors you can think about.”

The confirmation committee voted unanimously to favorably recommend to the full Senate Nielsen’s appointment to the Utah Wildlife Board. Gov. Spencer Cox nominated Nielsen for appointment on May 14.

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