In 33 years with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Ron Hodson has left an indelible mark on the state’s wildlife.
The Syracuse resident has done everything from enforcing laws statewide and overseeing DWR’s Northern Utah operations to helping increase Utah’s bison, mule deer and bighorn sheep populations.
Hodson retired earlier this month, shortly after receiving the DWR Employee of the Year Award.
He started his career with the agency as a conservation officer, where his duties included law enforcement, transplanting big game animals, stocking fish and helping with habitat projects.
He spent most of his career in the southeastern part of the state. After serving several years as an enforcement officer, Hodson transitioned into a wildlife biologist position. Increasing the number of bison on the Henry Mountains and the number of mule deer on the Henry and Manti mountains are among his top accomplishments. Under his leadership, the number of bighorn sheep throughout southeastern Utah also increased.
“It’s impressive to compare what is there now to how things were 33 years ago,” DWR Director Jim Karpowitz said of Hodson’s impact on the region.
After 29 years of service, Hodson moved to Northern Utah to lead the agency’s Northern Region, a position he held for the past four years.
Hodson was one of 16 employees recently recognized with awards from DWR.
Boyde Blackwell, the agency’s private lands/public wildlife coordinator, received the Director’s Outstanding Service Award. In his role, Blackwell is responsible for balancing the needs of wildlife and public hunters and anglers with the needs of private landowners.
Karpowitz highlighted two reasons Blackwell, who lives in Centerville, received the award: The work he’s done to open more private land to public hunters and anglers through Utah’s Walk-In Access program, and his willingness to serve as acting Wildlife Section chief until a permanent chief could be found.
Recently, a new program under the federal Farm Bill gave states an opportunity to obtain federal funding to open more private land to public hunters and anglers. Utah was one of the few states to receive any of that money, and Karpowitz credited Blackwell with bringing $2.1 million to the state through the program.
Among others receiving awards this year was Val Bachman, manager of the Ogden Bay, Howard Slough and Harold Crane waterfowl management areas.
Doug Miller, a former television reporter known to thousands of Utahns as “Mr. Outdoors,” will be honored today as a new area of marshland near Farmington is dedicated in his name.
Miller, who worked in broadcasting for more than 30 years, was best known for the outdoor adventure program “Outdoors With Doug Miller” on KSL-TV and KUTV. He died unexpectedly in 2006 from an infection related to a colon disorder.
At 10 a.m. this morning, Ducks Unlimited will formally dedicate a 370-acre portion of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area as The Doug Miller Unit. A program honoring Miller’s extensive conservation work on behalf of waterfowl habitat will feature guest speakers and an unveiling of the site’s official sign.
Today’s ceremony is not open to the public, but Miller’s friends and fans are encouraged to remember him by visiting the area named in his honor.