Embattled agency head to stay on until LDWF replacement found, spokesman says
Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed in an emailed statement last night the resignation of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Secretary Charlie Melancon, but a spokesman for the governor said the embattled agency head isn’t leaving just yet.
“Secretary Melancon is not stepping down immediately,” Richard Carbo, Edwards’ communications director, told LouisianaSportsman.com via email this morning. “He will remain on while the governor conducts the search (for a successor).”
No timetable for a naming a new secretary was announced.
Melancon’s resignation was first reported yesterday afternoon, but it took several hours before Edwards confirmed the agency head was out.
The governor gave no specifics on what led to Melancon tendering his resignation.
“Charlie and I have agreed that we should move the agency in a different direction,” Edwards said in the statement.
However, Melancon caused waves in the recreational fishing community almost from the start of his tenure in January, with conflict ramping up in June when he announced his opposition to the congressional bill that would snatch oversight of the Gulf of Mexico’s red snapper fishery away from federal authorities and hand it over to the Gulf states.
During one public meeting, he called Congressman Garret Graves — who authored H.R. 3094 – “Pinnochio.”
Melancon’s administration went on to further alienate the LDWF’s recreational constituency by announcing the ending of popular programs, including TAG Louisiana that was a volunteer-based fish-tagging program. The Saltwater Series and a Lake Pontchartrain telemetry study also are slated to be canceled.
Melancon’s administration also worked with the Legislative Auditor’s Office in an investigation of financial oversight of the agency by his predecessor, Robert Barham. That investigation ended with Barham’s administration being dinged for a lack of proper management of BP oil spill money.
Gov. Edwards said Melancon’s resignation not impact efforts to correct the problems highlighted by state auditors.
“This will be a time of transition for the departent,but there are still positive reforms we can make to LDWF to correct the significant issues raised in the Legislative Auditor’s report regarding the previous administration’s mismanagement,” Edwards said in the email.
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