The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


January 22, 2014

Strengthening ties to game board

JOHNSTOWN — For years we’ve heard from hunters and outdoor lovers about what they believe is wrong with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the policies it enacts.

Now they can share those feelings with a familiar face.

Matt Hough, whose family lived in Westmont from 1999 to 2010, was named the executive director of the game commission last week.

It’s not a post that Hough, who now resides in Adams County, expects to hold for too long, but it is an important one. The 56-year-old told Tribune-Democrat sports reporter Mike Mastovich that he plans to retire in  “the not-too-distant future” and that the commission will be looking for a long-term replacement.

In the meantime, Hough has some goals as he succeeds retiring Executive Director Carl Roe.

“No. 1, I want to keep the agency moving in the right direction,” Hough said. “I think under Carl Roe the agency has been moving along. Carl made tremendous strides with the agency and I want to keep moving in that direction. We probably have the best employees in the commonwealth.

“Everybody is really super dedicated,” Hough said. “That’s for every employee. It’s nice to work in an organization like that. I want to make sure we keep everybody moving in the right direction for the wildlife resources.”

Hunters want the commission to move in the right direction as well, although which direction that is might be up for debate. The deer-management plan enacted under Roe’s predecessor, Vern Ross, was an unpopular one to say the least.

The handling of the state’s deer herd is probably the most difficult and divisive – and certainly the most high-profile – issue that the head of the game commission faces. Pennsylvania deer hunters are passionate, dedicated and fiercely loyal. They want to be able to spend time in the woods, commune with nature and have a chance to harvest a deer.

We understand that, and we’re confident that Hough does, too – although we doubt that he will change much as interim director. His role likely will be to maintain the status quo in terms of policy until a successor is found.

“Matt is a good communicator,” said Tim Layton of Windber, who was appointed to the Pennsylvania Game Commission in July. “He’s got a very good pulse on the people in the field. He’s got a good vision of what the Board of Commissioners is looking to do in the future. He’s got all the tools that are necessary to work well with all the directors that are part of the commission and to step up and guide them in the right direction.”

We wish him the best of luck in his new role.

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