The new director of the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) hopes to blend his passion for wildlife with a business background to keep the mostly self-funded agency on good financial footing.
Greg Sheehan, a 20-year DWR employee and the agency's administrative services head since 2002, was named Tuesday to replace Jim Karpowitz, who is retiring Dec. 1 after heading the agency since 2005.
"The Division of Wildlife is a business," said Sheehan. "We bring in our own revenue. We need to think smart all the time. We don't get many general tax dollars. If we don't provide a good product or service for our constituents, they don't have to come back to us and they won't come back."
In making the announcement, Utah Department of Natural Resources' director Mike Styler emphasized Sheehan's business skills.
"Greg brings a business background to the position," Styler said. "But he is much more than an MBA. I've been in the field with him, and he's truly committed to a bright future for Utah's wildlife. Greg will bring a new and different perspective to the division."
Sheehan, a graduate of Utah State University who has an MBA from the University of Phoenix, has been a hunter, fisher and wildlife photographer for much of his life. The Layton resident is married and has two sons.
He said his No. 1 goal will be to create more wildlife-related opportunities in Utah, especially finding ways to help increase the number of mule deer in the state, improving community fishing opportunities and getting more hunters to purchase waterfowl licenses.
The new director said he would like to reach out to the public for ideas, especially when it comes to increasing deer herds.
He would like to organize small working groups in towns throughout Utah to get people's ideas on wildlife issues.
"Government needs some help," he said. "We need to hear from people. We have not thought of everything that can be thought of to help deer."
A member of the agency's leadership team since 2002, Sheehan has helped the agency enhance more than 1 million acres of wildlife through the Watershed Restoration Initiative; has helped boost fish hatchery production to more than 1.1 million pounds per year by rebuilding and improving hatcheries, and has helped expand access for hunters and anglers.
He managed a staff of 55, oversaw a $72 million annual budget, directed all of the division's license sales and has worked with the Legislature. This past year, he managed a program that saw a record 337,000 hungers apply for big game permits, 30,000 more than in 2011.
"I have truly valued Greg's opinions and insights on issues we've faced through the years," Karpowitz said. "He has a really good plan to move the division into new areas and directions. It feels good to be able to turn over the reins to a very competent person."
Sheehan said he has plans to realign the DWR internally, utilizing existing resources with a focus of bringing more people into wildlife hobbies and keeping them interested.