Chuck Sykes

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Sykes Takes Helm as AFWA President


This story, by David Rainer, orginally appeared on the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources website.

According to Ron Regan, executive director of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, it may not make the headlines in the newspapers, but the election of Chuck Sykes as AFWA’s new president is a big deal.

Sykes, director of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, started serving his one-year term in September and has already been on a whirlwind tour to seven states, the District of Columbia, and Canada in his official duties as president.

“It’s a huge honor for Chuck,” Regan said. “The association doesn’t elect someone unless they have proved their worth in their work with the association. It does, in fact, mean that Chuck has or could have access to the director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or national wildlife organizations. Those are extremely important. We do rely on our president to be our principal spokesperson on issues. So, it’s not just about approving policy. We can bring Chuck to D.C. to testify or meet with a committee or be at some event to mingle with somebody important in Congress, who, in turn, is important to the state fish and wildlife agencies.”

With offices in D.C., AFWA was formed in 1902 to represent fish and wildlife agencies in all U.S. states and territories as well as Canadian provinces.

“AFWA basically exists to make sure the rights and privileges and jurisdictional responsibilities of state fish and wildlife agencies are upheld and no harm is done through federal legislation, rulemaking, or policy,” Regan said. “When possible, we advocate for funding and other authority to help states do their work better. It’s interesting to note that the provinces and territories of Canada are also members of the association. That’s why we had our annual meeting in Calgary, Canada, just a couple of months ago when Chuck became president.

“Our mission is basically to look out for the states. We’re all about making sure the states have the resources to do their jobs and they don’t get compromised by some new federal program that takes away Chuck’s authority to manage species within the borders of Alabama.”

ADCNR commissioner Chris Blankenship is pleased Sykes has this opportunity to share his substantial knowledge and experience with the rest of the U.S. and Canada.

“I’m happy for Chuck and his potential impacts around the country,” said Blankenship. “He has brought a good common-sense approach to managing wildlife in Alabama and has done some progressive things here. I’m excited he has the opportunity to take that to other parts of the country and help them make the same strides we’ve made here in Alabama.”

Read the rest of the story here.