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NWTF Honors Game Commission Forester

 

March 28, 2019



Pennsylvania Game Commission forester Brent McNeal has been presented with the National Wild Turkey Federation’s “Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award” for his dedication to wild turkeys and wildlife habitat management.

The award is named after former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief Joe Kurz, who was a principal figure in wild turkey trap-and-transfer programs across North America and who played a vital role in improving wildlife management.

Forester McNeal received the award in mid-February at the 43rd annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn.

In addition to supervising foresters in the Game Commission’s Southcentral Region, McNeal is responsible for all aspects of forest management efforts on nearly 225,000 acres of game lands, where controlled burns and other habitat treatments are implemented to increase mast production and reach other habitat-management goals.

The Game Commission’s Southcentral region includes the counties of Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder and York.

Regarding controlled burns, McNeal achieved certification as an “RxB2,” which requires hundreds of hours of classroom instruction and participation in prescribed burns and wildfires. He’s the only employee in the region with such a certification. McNeal has spent more than 2,500 hours, mostly since 2009, training for, preparing, and conducting controlled burns.

Southcentral Region GIS specialist Jeremy Diehl, who serves on the regional controlled-burns team, said that the region has been able to do more burning in the last five years, especially on forestland and barrens, than at any time in the past.

“We would not have been able to do that without Brent's training, expertise, and experience," Diehl said.

NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said these projects benefit turkeys and a variety of wildlife, and McNeal deserves credit for his important role.

“Brent is far more than a forester,” Humphries said. “His conservation practices combine forest and habitat management to enhance the landscape and benefit all wildlife.”

McNeal said he is honored to receive the award.

“It makes me very proud to represent the agency that I have spent most of my career with,” he said. “Habitat management has evolved throughout my career to a point where I feel we are making great strides every day to improve wildlife habitat for current and future generations, and this award reflects that. I credit my peers in habitat management. I credit my Dad for raising me to be a steward of the resource and to appreciate every day spent in the woods. My wife and children have supported me throughout my career, tolerating me leaving early and coming home late from prescribed burns and wearing muddy boots into the house. For that, I thank them.”

 

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