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Conservation Advisory Board's New Members
By Mike Bolton
Posted Monday November 27 2017, 2:41 PM
New CAB member Jessica Butler, of Scottsboro, is an avid deer and duck hunter and loves fly fishing.
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When the  Conservation Advisory Board (CAB) meets in February for its first meeting of 2018, the board will be without a couple of familiar faces and will be introducing two new ones.

Jessica Butler, of Scottsboro, and Greg Barksdale, of Hanceville—both appointees of Gov. Kay Ivey—have joined the board that sets the policies for the four DCNR divisions—Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Marine Resources, State Parks and State Lands.

Brock Jones, of Boligee, will return to the board for a new term.

A couple of familiar faces will be missing when the board meets on a yet-to-be-named date and location. Dr. Warren Strickland, of Huntsville, who served as chairman for the past several years, and Austin Ainsworth, of Guntersville, recently finished their terms on the board.

Current board member Joseph “Joey” Dobbs Jr., of Birmingham, has been named the new chair of the board, and Ben Stimpson Jr., of Mobile, was reappointed by Gov. Ivey.

Jessica Butler’s resume shows that she is a member of the Scottsboro City Council and is the marketing director at Highlands Medical Center in Scottsboro. She took her first buck, a 9-pointer, in the eighth grade and has been an avid hunter and angler all her life. Among her other outdoor pursuits are waterfowl hunting and fly fishing.

Greg Barksdale has a background in banking and insurance and has been an avid outdoorsman for 40 years. He brings a lifelong love of hunting and fishing in Alabama and several other states. Barksdale, who is involved with the Cullman County 4-H Shotgun Sports program, enjoys mentoring and educating young people about natural resources, wildlife and wilderness conservation.

“I’m excited to have Jessica Butler and Greg Barksdale as new additions to the board,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of DCNR. “Both seem to have a real passion for the outdoors, and they may bring a different perspective than before. Brock Jones was appointed about a month ago, and he understands the process after being on the board previously.

“I really appreciate the leadership of Dr. Strickland as chairman for the last several years and his service to the board for over a decade,” Blankenship said. “I also appreciate Austin’s contribution to the board. It’s always bittersweet when you get new members and members you’ve enjoyed working with move on to other things. I would be remiss not to thank Dr. Strickland and Austin for their service to the board and to the hunters and anglers of Alabama.

“I’m also looking forward to working with our new chairman, Joey Dobbs. He’s been on the board for a good while. He’s a skilled statesman and will do a very effective job of working with all the members of the board to make sure their voices are heard, and that they have the opportunity to represent their districts.”

Brock Jones is a Camden native. He works in finance and lives in Boligee where his outdoor endeavors include hunting deer, dove and quail in Greene and Wilcox counties.

The CAB is made up of 10 members appointed by the governor for alternating terms of six years, and three ex-officio members. Those ex-officio members are currently Gov. Ivey, Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan, and Gary Lemme, the Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. The Commissioner of the DCNR serves as the ex-officio secretary of the board.

The CAB meets two to three times annually with its most notable job being setting the dates of all hunting seasons and setting regulations for both hunting and fishing.

The board typically takes public input and proposes any changes in hunting and fishing regulations at its February meeting each year. Those proposals that eventually became law in recent years have included a three-buck annual limit, an extension of the deer season into February and mandatory Game Check.

During the second meeting of the year, usually in March, the board takes input from the public and votes on proposals from the February meeting.

Any changes the board approves must receive approval of two-thirds of the members and the approval of the governor before they become law.

CAB members represent different districts in the state and serve as a go-between for the public and DCNR on various issues. They work with people in their districts to understand the conservation-related issues they face and to share those issues and concerns with DCNR.

Blankenship says it helps to be able to work with CAB members to get a feel on needs and wants from the public and to get the CAB’s advice. He says it is also helpful having the CAB to relay any changes in the rules and regulations and to  get as much public input as possible before any votes are taken.

“I think people view the board as very fair,” Blankenship said. “The public can bring up an issue or a board member can bring up an issue at one meeting, but we can’t bring it up and vote on it at the same meeting. That’s been the rule of the board for the past several years. That way, people get plenty of opportunity to look at the proposals and provide public input so the decisions made by the board and the Department are very sound.

“Our process provides a good back-and-forth with the Board and the divisions.”
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