Sunday, 11 February 2007 00:51

Presented to the Nevada Wildlife Commission: Nevada Department of Wildlife Violates the Law

Written by Gerald Lent
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My name is Gerald Lent and I represent Nevada Hunters Association. This audit is a complete embarrassment to you as a Commission and the Department of Wildlife.

This agency is a financial disaster: almost 2 million dollars of sportsmen’s money went to waste and you failed to do anything about it. Money was being diverted without regard to the law, the Aquatic Education Program exceeded their budget by nearly $178,000 or 53%, the Hunter Education Program exceeded their budget by more than $209,000 or 52%, Game Management grant expenditures exceeded their budget by over $258,000 or 18%, the Statewide Technical Guidance for Wildlife Restoration exceeded their budget by more than $158,000 or 16%.

You failed to regulate this agency and do your lawful duties for which you were appointed, especially you 5 sportsmen’s representatives. NRS 501.181 defines your duties to protect and manage wildlife in this state. How can you do that if you don’t oversee how they spend the public’s money? Your duties also are to establish policies and direction and to make sure all laws are followed.

NRS 501.115 Acceptance of federal aid in projects for restoration of wildlife:

  1. "The State of Nevada hereby assents to the provisions of that certain Act of Congress commonly known and referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Act approved September 2, 1937 and also designated as 16 U.S.C., providing federal aid to states in wildlife restoration projects."
  2. "The Commission shall do any and all things necessary to obtain for the State of Nevada the benefits provided in the Act of Congress."

How can you say you did this?

If you commissioners really intensely reviewed the budget for 5 to 6 months as former chairman Bradley testified at the Legislative Assembly Committee on Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Mining, the Commission would have seen where the department lost approximately $3 million and should have caught the misuse and unlawful use of restricted funds! Who is lying? Either you commissioners are not doing your job or this is a big cover-up.

I think you Commissioners broke the law because you didn’t do all things necessary! You let Director Crawforth deceive and misrepresent the budget and his expenditures. You let Director Crawforth break the law and divert obligated funds into his Wildlife Account.

NRS 501.354: Receipt, deposit, and expenditure of money: "The Department shall receive, deposit, and expend all money…and in accordance with the Commission’s policy."

This includes habitat, upland game, trout, duck, and elk monies.

Your duty again!

NRS 502.242: Habitat conservation fee: must be accounted for separately and only used for the purposes of wildlife habitat rehabilitation and restoration.

NRS 502.294: Upland game bird fee: must be used for projects approved by the Commission for the protection and propagation of upland game birds and for the acquisition, development, and preservation of the habitats of upland game birds in the State.

NRS 502.310: Duck stamps: must be used for projects approved by the Commission for the protection and propagation of migratory birds and for the acquisition, development, and preservation of wetlands in Nevada.

NRS 502.250 Elk Damage: must be used for the prevention and mitigation of damage caused by elk or game mammals not native to this State.

These funds were inappropriately used and I consider illegally diverted to fund other programs unless, of course, the Commission approved them.

Isn’t it a crime to violate any NRS? If I violated NRS 502.010: License required for hunting—would I be prosecuted? You bet I would, so why not you and the director?

NRS 281.360: Failure by a public officer or employee to perform duty:…Person holding any public trust or employment, their willful neglect to perform such duty…shall be a misdemeanor.

Well folks, you can’t say you didn’t know about your duties because in the Legislative Committee Meeting of March 28, 2006 Laura Richards, chief of Wildlife Diversity, described the process to get federal matching funds and stated: "We do not want to turn back federal funds."

Director Terry Crawforth described ways to get federal funds and said, "The impetus is to make sure the state is not losing available federal funds."

Commissioner McNinch moved to continue pursuing funding mechanism on what New Jersey has done and take advantage of federal grants and make sure we have appropriate state match. Commissioner Bentley seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.

This sure appears like willful neglect since everybody knew about matching federal funds!

 

I stood here time and time again when the director said this agency is going down the drain because it has no funding and told you to look at his budget and see where the money was going. You refused and just raised sportsmen’s fees, thinking this is the answer. Perhaps if your review of the budget were better, maybe the fees wouldn’t have needed to be raised.

  1. We told you we had a serious predator problem in this state 12 years ago—you failed to listen. We passed a predator bill to force you to take action.
  2. You opposed us when we wanted to take one sportsman off the Commission and replace him with someone who has an accounting background.
  3. In 2005, you didn’t want an audit under the disguise of cost. We forced an audit to prove our point. Bill Bradley, chair of the Commission, Larry Johnson of the Coalition, Fred Church of the Nevada Bow Hunters, Rick Elmore, director of NBU all opposed this audit saying "We’re concerned that it’s going to have a detrimental impact on the Department." My answer: "You bet it will!"

 

 

FIVE SOLUTIONS

  1. You must get an administrative officer3 (ASO3) minimum, who has experience in budgets, finance, federal grants, and internal controls. And don’t tell me what you can and cannot do with this agency!
  2. You Commissioners patronize the director and Department way too much, like going camping together, social events together, in the past, drinking in bars together, etc. Your authority over them is now compromised and you can’t fairly regulate the agency because now you are just old buddies. It’s like dating your secretary and expecting to get work out of her now.
  3. Look at all these feel-good committees—you don’t need them all. What you do need is a permanent Finance Committee and also a permanent Audit Committee to keep abreast of all audit recommendations and follow-up compliance. These should help the new director when he has any problems.
  4. We need a citizens/sportsmen’s review committee completely independent to review this agency’s and Commission’s performance with the power to report directly to the governor.
  5. Quit listening to feel-good groups so much. Let them do wildlife projects for you which in most instances are good, but try to listen a little to Nevada Hunters Association and HUNTER’S ALERT. Many good ideas come from these groups. Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Coalition for Nevada’s Wildlife, both run by Larry Johnson, "have a policy of not being publicly critical of NDOW, without questioning anyone’s honesty or integrity, which is counter productive."

To me this is cowardice unless you want to get NDOW to award your auction tags.

Unlike these other groups, we are not afraid to speak out and carve out new ideas. Some organizations are not leaders but followers and should step aside and let the leaders lead. They claim to work within the system—well, the system ain’t working so we work outside the system to try to improve the system!

Has anyone heard of the Boston Tea Party? If our forefathers didn’t work outside the system, we would all probably be British citizens now!

If any Commissioner read the audit—then I’m sure you must have a plan. As a member of the public, I demand to hear your plan. If you fail or refuse to do your lawful duties—then you should resign!

If the Attorney General won’t file charges against the past director and you Commissioners, perhaps we will need a Special Prosecutor to do this. The statutes are clear!

We sportsmen cannot continue to give you Commissioners the responsibility to oversee our funds. You have failed us, led by your past chairman.

 

Presented to the Nevada Wildlife Commission

February 10, 2007

By Gerald Lent

President, Nevada Hunters Association

PO Box 50757

Reno, NV 89513

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