TPWD News Release — Jan. 29, 2007
AUSTIN, Texas — Game Warden Gary Barnes of Fritch north of Amarillo has been named the “Texas Officer of the Year” for 2006 by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA). On Jan. 25, Barnes received special recognition for the award from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Barnes graduated from the 36th Texas Game Warden Academy on May 21, 1982. His first duty station was in Corsicana in Navarro County, where he worked the bottoms of the Trinity River, Richland Creek and Chambers Creek for deer poaching activity before it became one of the states major water reservoirs called Richland-Chambers Reservoir.
In 1984, Barnes transferred to Hutchinson County, where he still works today as a Game Warden VI. During his tenure he worked side by side with a handful of his fellow Texas Game Wardens in the controversial Canadian River land dispute between the river bottom hunters and landowners. With a positive and willing attitude, Gary helped establish some calm with both the landowners and the hunters, working both sides of the problem, helping keep tensions to a minimum.
His supervisors say Barnes has always been one who volunteers for special operations. During Operation Broadhead in East Texas, he helped stop the illegal running of deer with dogs. Recently, he was a part of special border operations to stop illegal commercial fishing, including Operation Pescador in the Zapata and Laredo areas and Operation Del Rio. He has worked with Homeland Security and was a member of the Texas Game Warden Hurricane Katrina rescue team.
In 2004 and 2005, Barnes volunteered to work undercover with the Texas Game Warden Special Operations Unit. During Operation Headhunter, Barnes was able to infiltrate an illegal deer poaching ring. He and the undercover unit were successful in obtaining numerous felony and Class A misdemeanor convictions, which ultimately placed one hunter in prison.
During this same time, the Five States Game Warden Association, which includes Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma, was celebrating its 25th Anniversary with Barnes as president.