John Copeland, is a man of few words and much action towards protecting the waters of the New River Watershed and beyond. During his years as Fisheries Biologist with Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (VDWR), among too many things to list, he led multiple fisheries management projects including the New River native Walleye restoration program, Claytor Lake fisheries monitoring and habitat restoration. Since his retirement two years ago, Copeland has been the Water Quality Manager for the New River Conservancy (NRC).
His outreach programs touch many lives, including quite possibly yours. His work in quadrupling the NRC Water Watcher program has added 10 new monitored sites in the New River Watershed that weren’t previously being monitored, 4 additional sites in Ashe County, 5 additional sites in Grayson County, and our first ever on Chestnut Creek in Carroll County, near Galax. It is in part due to this work that Copeland has earned the 2024 Community Conservation & Service Award from the New River Wildlife & Conservation Club located in Fries, Virginia.
The New River Wildlife & Conservation Club,(NRWCC) uniquely located in the Blue Ridge Mountains with the New River as their front yard, strives to preserve our natural heritage as they provide recreational and learning opportunities in the great outdoors.
Annually, NRWCC recognizes community members who they feel have made contributions in the areas of conservation , outdoor recreation, and outdoor learning experiences that better our community and the environment in which we live.
John Copeland was recognized for his support in establishing the NRWCC Fish of the New clinic while with the VDWR and now with NRC expanding its Water Watchers program especially in Grayson County, VA. Copeland’s work includes a certification clinic at our location in 2023 and with 3 of our member becoming certified Water Watchers. As a club member John has also been instrumental in obtaining equipment donation supporting the fly fishing efforts of NRWCC.
Photo: L-R John Copeland accepts the 2023 Community Conservation & Service Award from Keith Andrews, president of the New River Wildlife & Conservation Club.