January 20, 2011
Akansas - The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today named
25-year veteran Loren Hitchcock to serve as the agency's director.
Hitchcock, who began his career with the AGFC in 1985, has served
as interim director since Sept. 1. Hitchcock was elected by
acclamation with the support of all seven commissioners.
"Loren's experience and vision for the future of our agency make
him the perfect fit for our organization," Commission Chairman
Craig Campbell said. "He's a top-flight administrator and his
knowledge of our agency is unsurpassed. He's the right person to
lead us into the future."
Hitchcock began his AGFC career as a wildlife officer. In 1989, he
became chief of the Enforcement Division, a position he held until
2003. In 2001, he took on additional duties as deputy director.
"It's a tremendous honor to be asked to lead the dedicated,
professional staff at our agency," Hitchcock said. "It is with
these wonderful people that we can build a new era of efficiency
and professionalism at Game and Fish. We'll work together as a
team to take advantage of the opportunities we have ahead of us to
tell Arkansans about the wonderful opportunities that exist in
Arkansas's incredible outdoors, and the role this Commission plays
in managing those resources."
Hitchcock's proactive approach in building a new era of leadership
was evident in his first act as director. He announced this
morning that Don Brazil would be named deputy director and chief
of staff. The Commission voted unanimously in favor of a
resolution to support the decision.
Brazil was among four finalists for the AGFC director's position.
He has been serving as deputy administrator for the Mississippi
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
"Don understands the big picture of wildlife conservation and has
been instrumental in helping Mississippi work as a cohesive team
to present that state as a prime site for outdoor recreation,"
Hitchcock said. "Don brings the type of leadership and vision we
need to move into a new era at our agency."
The Commission met with the four finalists for the director's post
earlier this week. In those discussions, Hitchcock and Brazil
emerged as the two leading candidates for the position.
"This is an extraordinary day for the Commission - to have our top
two candidates on board to begin building for the future,"
Campbell said. "We are fortunate to have two visionary leaders
whose passion for wildlife and conservation efforts positions us
to take advantage of all opportunities ahead of the agency. We're
building for the future and this puts a solid leadership
foundation in place."
Hitchcock was born and raised in Batesville. He graduated from
Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in 1975 with a bachelor's
degree in business management. He is married and has two sons. He
lives in Conway and is a member of New Life Church.
Hitchcock spearheaded the Enforcement Division's role in the
passage of the 1/8th-Cent Conservation Sales Tax in 1996. He was
designated as lead administrator in the agency's acquisition of
the state's largest conservation easement - 16,000-acre Moro Big
Pine Natural Area Wildlife Management Area - and 4,000 acres in
fee title property in Searcy County for continued elk restoration.
He led the agency's negotiations with Chesapeake Energy in its
acquisition of mineral rights and natural gas exploration on
wildlife management areas in the Fayetteville Shale play. The
leases brought $32 million in mineral lease bonuses, plus unknown
gas royalty payments for decades to come.
Additional highlights of his service include appointments to
special committees and task forces by former governors Bill
Clinton, Mike Huckabee and Mike Beebe. He served as the
Southeastern States Law Enforcement Chief's president in 1994. He
has testified before numerous legislative committees concerning
salary and benefits for wildlife officers and AGFC employees.
Numerous equipment upgrades and new training techniques have been
implemented during his oversight of the Enforcement Division.