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Conservation Employees Honored for Contributions to State’s Natural Resources

L-R: Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship, Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Director Chuck Sykes, Sergeant Alan Roach and Officer Richard M. Tait III.

Three Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) employees were honored at the recent Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards banquet. 

Chuck Sykes, director of ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries division, was presented with the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Award. Sykes is a lifelong hunter and enjoys introducing others to his favorite pastime. During his five years at ADCNR, he has been instrumental in implementing a mandatory statewide deer and turkey harvest reporting system, strengthening Alabama’s chronic wasting disease surveillance and response plan, developing special opportunity hunting areas, creating an adult mentored hunting program and many more conservation initiatives that are important to our state’s wildlife resources. 

Sergeant Alan Roach of Valley Grande, Alabama, was presented the Fisheries Conservationist of the Year Award for his efforts in protecting Alabama’s diverse fisheries resource, particularly the paddlefish. During Alabama’s special paddlefish season, he spent countless hours surveying commercial fisherman and documenting violations. In one week he and his team documented 135 paddlefish fishery violations that resulted in over $16,000 in fines. Sergeant Roach’s leadership and aggressive coordination of law enforcement activities related to the Alabama River paddlefish fishery were instrumental in the successful prosecution of the violations.

Conservation Enforcement Officer Richard M. Tait III, who is stationed in Wilcox County, was presented the Conservation Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. Last year, Officer Tait made 105 arrests for violations of conservation laws and regulations. He has also investigated numerous illegal activities involving migratory birds, which resulted in convictions on 12 cases through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in federal court. Officer Tait also teaches hunter education classes and assists with youth recruitment events such as natural resource camps and fishing days. 

Over the past 45 years, the Alabama Wildlife Federation has presented the Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards to individuals and organizations that make notable contributions to the conservation of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources. 

Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship said the three honorees are very deserving of the recognition they received. “We have many employees in the department who diligently work to protect and manage our state’s resources, and it’s nice to see some of them acknowledged for their work. Director Sykes, Sergeant Roach and Officer Tait are fine examples of the quality employees we have working in the Department of Conservation,” he said. 

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. 

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