SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Richard “Rick” Hartzell, wildlife manager for the Little River Wildlife Management Area on the Monongahela National Forest in Pocahontas County, was recently selected by the West Virginia State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation as its Wildlife Manager of the Year. He was presented the Making Tracks Award at the annual awards banquet Jan. 11.
Hartzell began his career with the West Virginia Division of National Resources in 1987 at French Creek. He was involved in conservation education programs, using various wildlife species in presentations to schools and civic groups.
In 1988, Hartzell accepted his current position.
Throughout his career, Hartzell has demonstrated skills and dedication as a professional wildlife manager, according to NWTF. He was deeply involved in an important multistate, wild turkey population dynamics study, which was funded in part by NWTF. He also participated in the Appalachian Cooperative Grouse Research Project that explored the population dynamics, home range and food habits of ruffed grouse in the central Appalachians.
During his tenure on the Little River WMA, Hartzell worked cooperatively with the U.S. Forest Service to develop and maintain a series of woodland savannahs and other early-successional-type habitats that have benefited both game and nongame wildlife species.
These habitats are extremely important as brood range for Eastern wild turkey populations. He has also worked cooperatively with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank and assisted in that managed deer hunt for 20 years.
“Rick’s career has been one of service, not just to the WVDNR and U.S. Forest Service, but especially to the sportsmen and women of West Virginia,” said Curtis Taylor, chief of the Wildlife Resources Section. Hartzell continues to promote the state’s wildlife management programs to area schools. He also finds time to coach his daughter’s sports teams.