(Washington, DC) – The National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Kelly Hepler (Alaska, Department of Fish & Game) as chairman of the Board. Hepler was introduced at the National Fish Habitat Action Plan Board meeting on May 14th at The Nature Conservancy. Hepler replaces John Cooper, who is leaving the post to retire. Hepler becomes the second chairman elected to the board, since Cooper was appointed chairman when the board was formed in October 2006. Hepler was formerly the board vice-chair before accepting the appointment.
Prior to joining the board, Hepler had been appointed to a number of national committees by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Through his participation on these committees, Hepler has assisted in the development of a strategic plan for the USFWS's fishery program; participated in a review of the federal aid program; and examined national fisheries and water resource policy issues.
Within Alaska, Hepler's leadership has resulted in the first-ever strategic plan for ADF&G's Division of Sport Fish, and a statewide trout management plan and policy to assure that Alaska's trout stocks will continue to provide benefits for future generations. Hepler also played an integral role in absorbing habitat functions into Division of Sport Fish after Executive Order 107, which transferred statutory responsibilities for habitat management and permitting under the Anadromous Fish Act from ADF&G to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources' Office of Habitat Management and Permitting.
Hepler brings 29 years of experience with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game to the Board chair position and a life-long commitment to natural resource conservation.