CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice announced Wednesday that West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel will retire from state government at the end of the month and transition to a role as an advisor to the DNR.
“Steve is a true friend of mine and has been a superstar in my administration. He has served the people of West Virginia incredibly well for five years and I sincerely thank him for his service to our state,” Gov. Justice said. While I am happy he will remain part of my team in an advisory role, I surely understand his desire to spend more time with his family and I wish him a happy retirement and nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.”
“Without any question Steve’s footprint on our DNR will be remembered for decades, if not centuries, to come. What we’ve been able to accomplish together in just five short years is absolutely remarkable. It has been a true joy to work alongside such a talented man.”
Director McDaniel was appointed to the position by Gov. Justice in January 2017.
“I am very excited to begin this new chapter that will allow me to spend more time with my family,” McDaniel said. “That said, I could never thank Governor Justice enough for appointing me to this role. If I had two lifetimes, I still wouldn’t be able to repay him for the happiness and joy I’ve had serving our state in the DNR over the past five years.
“I’m just so thankful to have been able to work under a governor like Jim Justice – someone who has loved the outdoors for his entire life and who appreciates just how lucky we are in West Virginia to enjoy natural wonders unlike anywhere else,” McDaniel continued. “I’ll never forget, right after he became governor, he called me into his office and said we need to do whatever it takes to change West Virginia’s image to the outside world. And he’s backed it up, time and time again, by investing in our tourism and our DNR like no other governor in history. It’s allowed us to achieve a lot in a very short amount of time and I am so proud of all that our team has accomplished.”
Over the past five years, more than $151 million has been invested in West Virginia state parks and forests for much needed repairs and significant improvement projects, vastly increasing their appeal as desirable tourism and vacation destinations. In the same time, West Virginia has expanded its state-owned hunting lands by an additional 85,896 acres and has improved its fish stocking methods to allow hunters and anglers from around the world more opportunities to enjoy West Virginia’s unmatched wildlife opportunities.
As a result of the Gov. Justice’s vision and Director McDaniel’s leadership, hunting and fishing license revenue has increased for three straight years and is currently at its highest point in more than 20 years. Additionally, state parks revenue for 2021 is now 52% higher than it was in 2017.
Director McDaniel’s retirement is effective at midnight on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. The next director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources will be appointed by Gov. Justice at a later date.