Billy Minser has been involved in wildlife and wild land management since 1966. Formerly a wildlife biologist and wildlife refuge manager for the state of Georgia, Mr. Minser was a teacher and researcher in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, at the University of Tennessee from 1972-2012. While at UT he focused on wildlife research and taught a variety of wildlife management and land management courses. In 2008, Mr. Minser received the Regional Director’s Conservation Honors Award from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Billy has been an active participant with a variety of conservation organizations in Tennessee and the region during the past 47 years, particularly in relationship to conservation of public land. Here are just a few conservation highlights that Mr. Minser has been involved with over the years:
- During the past 25 years, aided in the protection of nearly 500,000 acres in the Tennessee Valley. This was part of many different initiatives in collaboration with several organizations resulting in 8 new wildlife management areas, a 300 acre addition to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and protection of TVA public shoreline property.
- Helped spearhead an effort in 2006 to protect 292,000 acres of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) public lakeshore property around TVA lakes in 8 states.
- Led an effort through the Foothills Land Conservancy (FLC) to buy 4,600 acres that became the Foothills Wildlife Management Area (FWMA), in Blount County, TN. This land was donated to Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) in the 1995. Two years later FLC, along with Billy’s help, completed the Cochran Campaign which raised $500,000 to purchase an additional 1,500 acres. To date, FWMA has increased to 10,000 acres, providing a significant wildlife corridor with GSMNP and the Cherokee National Forest.
- Facilitated efforts between FLC, TWRA and Ducks Unlimited to acquire 524 acres of wetlands and uplands, now called Kyker Bottoms Wildlife Refuge, located in Blount County, TN. Kyker Bottoms, managed by TWRA, is open to the public, and includes fields, forests, wetlands and thickets. It is managed primarily for waterfowl and shorebirds as well as for diverse nongame, and especially songbirds.
- Worked with FLC, The Conservation Fund, TWRA and many other organizations to acquire a 2,500 acre refuge, called Yuchi Wildlife Management Area on Chickamauga Reservoir near Chattanooga, now owned and managed by TWRA. This area includes wetlands, uplands and riparian habitat and is one of a string of nearby refuges and natural areas providing feeding/resting habitat for migrating waterfowl and sandhill cranes.
- Placed multiple FLC conservation easements on his land and cultivated the interest of several neighbors to place CE’s on their own properties.
- Partnered with Carpenter’s Elementary School in Blount County, TN, to create a one-of-a-kind ‘Outdoor Classroom’ that includes a 1.7 mile nature trail, wildlife habitats, interpretive signage and teacher lesson plans. This project has caught the attention of several schools throughout the region that are also looking to implement a similar learning opportunity in their schools and communities.
- Assisted in the education and graduation of more than 1,000 Wildlife & Fisheries professionals at the University of Tennessee, who are now making their own impact on conservation across the United States.