Darren West, Project Coordinator for the Mule Deer Foundation’s (MDF) Utah County Chapter, was recently honored by the Utah Division of Wildlife (UDOW). West was recognized for his relentless work for the benefit of wildlife and habitat.

Covy Jones, the UDOW Biologist who nominated West, said he is impressed with the difficult projects Darren and the other MDF volunteers are willing to tackle. He also commended West and MDF for being enthusiastic and proactive working partners.

Over the last several years, West has worked on behalf of MDF to coordinate relevant habitat projects in partnership with UDOW. He and other MDF volunteers completed “Lop and Scatter” projects on Wildlife Management Areas near Mount Pleasant and Spanish Fork, Utah. Lop and Scatter is a labor-intensive method of removing branches from felled trees to increase the rate of decomposition and lower fire hazard. It also includes clearing areas of over-grown pinion and juniper to promote the re-growth of vegetation, and is a vital part of restoring mule deer winter range.

Jones said this habitat work has produced immediate results and is proving very beneficial for Utah’s deer herds. To date, the Utah County MDF Chapter has cleared 78 acres, with a combined total of 176 hours on the saws. At least 40 additional hours have been spent in planning and training sessions.

West, who was out of state when nominated, said he is driven by his passion and love for hunting. He declared, “The deer in Utah are in rapid decline, and it feels good to actually do something.”

Justin Whittier, who has worked alongside West on a number of MDF projects, attended the UDOW Awards Luncheon on Dec. 7, 2011, and accepted the award on West’s behalf. He said, “There were some 50 state employees in attendance, from conservation officers, dedicated hunter people, conservation directors … as a group, they had nominated ten honorees, and Darren West, as a volunteer for the Mule Deer Foundation, was one of them.”

Whittier continued, “Other recipients included Rod Hess with the Utah Dept. of Transportation, recognized for his work on the I-15 core project restoring wetlands and building deer fences, and Boyd McAffee, a Director with Clear Creek Outdoor Education Camp, was recognized for his 30+ years of service introducing youth to the outdoors. Darren was in good company!”

MDF’s Utah County Chapter Chair Jeremy Anderson concluded, “Our chapter is still growing, but we are gaining momentum with hard work and determination. We already have three new projects slated for 2012. When Darren West came on board we took a large step in the right direction.”

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