Ag thanks Cleveland
Cheyenne – Wyoming’s agriculture community was among those expressing disappointment, yet gratitude, when Wyoming Game and Fish Director Terry Cleveland recently announced his retirement plans. Members of the ag community say the relationship between Game and Fish and the landowner community reached an all-time high under Cleveland’s direction.
“He’s been very positive for the agriculture industry,” said Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Vice President Bryce Reece. “His willingness to listen, respect and understand the livestock and ranching community’s perspective has fostered an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding between two communities that had long been at odds. This has led to a period of advancement for both wildlife and agriculture in Wyoming like has never before been seen.”
Cleveland’s appreciation was evident in quotes issued as part of a statement announcing his retirement, which will take effect June 30, 2008. “…I would like to thank all of the private landowners who provide habitat for wildlife across the state. The richness, abundance and diversity of Wyoming’s wildlife resources would not be nearly so great without the contributions of the hundreds of private landowners in the state,” said Cleveland.
“Terry cut through the bureaucracy and was able to get some things done,” said McFadden rancher and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts President Ralph Brokaw. “What I appreciate most about Terry is his understanding of landowners’ role in healthy wildlife populations. He understands landowners are key to wildlife’s future and he recognizes them for the management they do. That was a refreshing attitude to see in his agency.”
“Terry has been a great asset to our state and the Game and Fish Agency,” said Daniel rancher John Andrikopolous. “He’s been a very good friend of ranchers and managers of Wyoming’s wildlife. He’s recognized the landowners are also land managers and that most of them want to do what is right for the land and the livestock. He’s built a great number of good working relationships, including with our family, and we will miss him in his position as G&F director.”
“Terry has that rare ability to truly understand that doing your job successfully is all about building relationships with people,” said Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna. “Particularly in government, we seem to have a shortage of that today. Terry has done that with many people, but of course the one most noteworthy from our perspective is the relationship he built with the ag community, landowners.”
“I would have preferred he stayed around and retired at 70 or 75,” laughed Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton. “Working with Terry was so much different than other directors I’ve worked with. I’ve felt like he understands the agricultural community. While we didn’t agree all the time, we’ve understood where he was coming from.”
“He sees the real role we play in wildlife management because we are responsible for so much of the habitat,” said Magagna. “While we didn’t always agree on every issue we had that feeling of comfort that we could work with Terry and express our views and they would be given consideration even when they might not be consistent with department views and he would personally ensure our interests were at the table.”
“Terry Cleveland may be the finest director that the Game and Fish Department has ever seen,” said Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal. “During his tenure, he navigated some of the most difficult wildlife management issues that our state has ever faced, including the delisting of wolves and grizzly bears and the ongoing challenges of sage grouse conservation and brucellosis. As he grappled with these challenges, Terry did so with a sense of mastery, and conducted himself in a manner that built confidence in department staff and in the citizens of Wyoming. Terry will leave the Game and Fish Department in very good condition heading into the future, and I thank him for his dedication, his service and his enduring commitment to the state. I will miss him as a colleague and a friend and hope to not let him go very far as I will continue to rely on him for his wise counsel.”
“It just goes to show,” said Hamilton, “that if you get the right person in that agency, how well you can work with landowners.”
Cleveland, a Rawlins native, began his 39-year career with the G&F in 1969 after graduating from Colorado State University. His first assignment was as Special Deputy Game Warden at Elk Mountain. As his career as a Wyoming Game Warden progressed, he was assigned to stations in Jeffrey City, Greybull and Saratoga. In 1978 he was promoted to District Wildlife Supervisor for the Casper district. In 1996 he was promoted to Assistant Division Chief in the Wildlife Division. And in 2003 he was appointed Director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
“Few people have the good fortune to spend their entire professional life in employment for which they have a passion,” said Cleveland. “I am one of the lucky few who have looked forward to going to work on a daily basis for almost four decades.”
The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will immediately commence a nationwide search for Cleveland’s replacement. The commission will select three final nominees for the position and forward those names to Governor Freudenthal, who will make the final selection.
Jennifer Womack is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.