by Associated Press
BOISE -- A retired employee of the state Fish and Game Department is one of two newly appointed board members for the state agency that oversees its operation.
Gary Power of Salmon replaces John Burns of Carman on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. The 28-year department veteran was a regional supervisor from the Salmon Region from 1991 until his retirement in 1998.
In southern Idaho, Dr. Wayne Wright of Twin Falls replaces Dr. Fred Wood, of Burley.
Kempthorne announced the appointments on Friday along with 157 other appointments to 63 boards and commissions as the new state fiscal year gets underway. He released the announcements without comment.
"This will be pretty interesting, a retired employee being a commissioner," said first-term Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner John Watts. "He knows that Salmon country like the back of his hand."
No previous career employees had ever been appointed to the board since the commission was established in 1938, said Fish and Game Department spokesman Ed Mitchell.
Power's wife, Tamara, said her husband was leading a float trip on the Salmon River and had not yet been told he was selected for the position. He won't even learn of the decision until he returns home Monday, "Not unless a jet boat goes roaring by and tells him," she said.
Wright, an avid big game hunter and Twin Falls cardiologist, said he will have more time available after his retirement this year. He said he simply wanted "to help preserve the heritage that we have in Idaho with our wildlife and our fish and game, and keep that intact for my kids and grandkids."
Both Burns and Wood had served the maximum allowable two terms on the commission after being appointed in 1996.
The Fish and Game Department has been one of the most controversial in recent years, sparking a movement among some sportsmen to ask for selection process more insulated from politics.
Don Clower, an avid sportsman, former commissioner and one of the critics of the status quo, said Power has done important research on wolves and elk since he retired.
"I can't think of a better person for the job," he said.
Last year, former department leaders tried unsuccessfully to get an initiative on the ballot that would have required the governor to select commissioners from a list of nominees submitted by sportsmen from each of the seven regions. It would also have eliminated a requirement that the state Senate approve the selections.
However, the group did not gather the required number of signatures before the deadline expired.
Fish and Game commissioners are appointed by the Governor for staggered four-year terms and must be confirmed by the Idaho State Senate. However, the new appointees will serve a few months without Senate approval because the Legislature does not meet until next winter.
The commission supervises the Fish and Game Department, establishes hunting, fishing and trapping seasons and makes decisions about the management of the state's wildlife.
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