Thursday, April 17, 2014 · 11:27 a.m.
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Avid hunter Julie Schuster has resigned her position on the governing body over the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to become the head of a private foundation that supports TWRA. (Photo: Contributed)

The governing body of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is short one member today. However, former Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Julie Schuster is keeping it "in the family."

Schuster, a member of the TFWC since 2009, announced last week that she is stepping down to become the executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation.

The TWRF is a nonprofit arm of the wildlife agency. The mission is much the same as the agency; however, as a nongovernmental agency, the foundation has much greater latitude in acquiring and spending money.

Schuster was just formally announced as the foundation's marketing director this fall. She now becomes the executive director, although former Director Joey Woodard will remain with the foundation.

"I told the board about a year ago I wanted to step down and get back to what my education was for," said Woodard, who has been executive director since 2008. "When I became director, the administrative duties took away from my primary interest in stream restoration. I've always wanted to right the wrongs and some of the mistakes we've made."

One of the initiatives the TWRF manages is the Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program. When construction projects and road builders, such as TDOT, damage or destroy wetlands or streams, they are required to either build around those areas or repair them to federal clean water standards—or they can pay money into the TSMP, which acts basically as a bank. The money from that bank must be used to repair or enhance other wetland projects in the same area that was destroyed. Woodard said TDOT provides at least 75 percent of the money that goes into that project. According to the TSMP annual report, there was $9.3 million equity in that program at the end of 2012.

Schuster was attending an out-of-state conference but said via email, "I feel that long term I can support the agency through my role as executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation in an even more effective way. I felt it was worth giving up the last year of my term on the commission to offer this support long term."

Schuster is originally from Minnesota but now lives in Pegram, Tenn. She is an avid hunter and outdoorswoman and has worked as a freelance writer, photographer and a variety of outdoor-related jobs, including promotions and marketing manager for the Bass Pro Shops in Nashville.

She is a member of several associations, including Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program, Legends of the Outdoors, Tennessee Outdoors Association, National Wild Turkey Association Diamond Life member, National Rifle Association, Quail Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited and Hunt Staff-Commando Hunting Products.

There is no word on when the governor might announce Schuster's replacement on the TWRC.

Richard Simms is a contributing writer, focusing on outdoor sports.

Updated @ 11:35 a.m. on 12/11/13 to add more information as it became available.

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