Deputy Executive Director Gene McCarty Announces Retirement

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AUSTIN — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Deputy Executive Director for Administration Gene McCarty has announced his retirement effective Aug. 31 after 34 years of state service.

McCarty’s distinguished career began as a fish and wildlife technician in a fish hatchery and he rose through the ranks over the years to play an integral role in shaping department policy on a wide range of issues.

“I’ve heard some people say that no one is indispensible, but Gene McCarty comes pretty darn close,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “His counsel is sought by his colleagues at all levels and his long field experience coupled with his strengths as an administrator has made him invaluable to our agency and the conservation mission we serve.”

McCarty began his career with TPWD at the Dundee Fish Hatchery near Wichita Falls in 1978 as a fish and wildlife technician, and quickly began moving up to positions of greater responsibility. He was promoted to hatchery superintendent at the Huntsville Fish Hatchery in 1981.

In 1982, McCarty became a biologist in Corpus Christi and helped build the original John Wilson Fish Hatchery from the ground up. That hatchery is now known as the CCA Marine Development Center. He worked there until 1987, when he was promoted once again to be statewide director for fish hatchery programs. In 1994 he became the director of the Coastal Fisheries division, a position he held until 1997. During his tenure as head of Coastal Fisheries, McCarty also played a critical role in construction of Sea Center Texas, a hatchery and aquarium in Lake Jackson.

After leaving Coastal Fisheries, McCarty became chief of staff at the Austin executive office and worked directly with the executive director until promoted to his present position in 2005. As deputy executive director for administration, McCarty supervises four divisions: Administrative Resources, Communications, Human Resources, and Information Technology.

McCarty’s conservation achievements are many, including the key leadership role he played in the implementation of the shrimp license buyback program in 1995. Funds generated from a surcharge on commercial licenses and on the Saltwater Fishing Stamp are used for purchasing and retiring commercial crab, finfish, bait shrimp, and bay shrimp licenses to stabilize fishing effort and support healthy fisheries stock. Although unpopular to begin with, the program has been successful and as of February of this year, $13.9 million had been spent to purchase and retire 2092 commercial bay and bait shrimp fishing boat licenses. This represents 65 percent of the original 3231 licenses grandfathered into the fishery in 1995. The very first shrimp license purchased with these funds still hangs in McCarty’s office.

During the latter part of his career, McCarty played a major role in five legislative sessions by working with all divisions to track bills, provide information and respond to lawmaker’s requests. He also worked directly with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the nine-member board appointed by the governor that oversees the state agency.

“From my first day at work cleaning out drainage ditches at Dundee State Fish Hatchery to negotiating the terms of limited entry with a room full of hostile shrimpers to outlining the agency’s budget with the Legislative Budget Board, it has always been my conviction that there can be no greater honor then to serve TPWD and its mission,” said McCarty. “I have been truly blessed and TPWD has been one of the defining elements of my life. TPWD’s mission has been my mission and no matter where I am or what I am doing I have always been proud to say I work for TPWD.”

McCarty said he now plans to put into action the motto at TPWD, “Life’s Better Outside.”