HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky has a new man to oversee the embattled Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Gregory Johnson replaces Jonathan Gassett, who resigned last year and in March was fined $7,500 by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission for nine counts of ethics violations.
Seven commissioners unanimously approved Johnson to take over the department May 2nd.
A lifelong hunter and fisherman, Johnson says he brings a commitment to conservation to his new job.
"Just a passion for it, and I guess you could say that's just what I do," he said during a recent taping of Issues & Answers: The Mountain Edition.
Johnson is a 1979 graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, and worked more than 30 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He says his first priority is to make the department sportsmen-centric.
"People that hunt and fish buy hunting and fishing licenses, so you might consider them stockholders in the corporation" he said.
Johnson says his department will focus on managing Kenkucky's natural resources properly, and will work to create what he calls "memorable experiences" for outdoorsmen.
"Leaving the resource in better condition than we found it so that our future generations, our children can enjoy it as much as we can."
As demand for elk and bear hunting increases in Eastern Kentucky, Johnson says he wants to create more opportunities for wildlife tourism.
"We have literally thousands and thousands of acres of reclaimed strip mines, and a lot of them are very contiguous."
Johnson says finding ways to tap those resources could be a win-win for landowners and sportsmen alike.
The entire episode of Issues & Answers with Gregory Johnson will air at a later date on WYMT.
ORIGINAL STORY 5/2/14:
Gregory Johnson will now serve as Commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Commission.
Member vote unanimously earlier today in Frankfort during a special called meeting.
Johnson becomes only the 8th Commissioner in the Department's 70 year history.
He worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 30 years before retiring in 2011.