RENO — Despite the disruptions and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) can look back on 2020 as a year of achievement. NDOW personnel rose to the occasion and made the adjustments needed for the agency to continue to fulfill its mission to protect, conserve, manage, and restore Nevada’s wildlife and its habitat; promote boating safety; and educate the public on a variety of fronts.

“The men and women at NDOW are some of the most passionate and dedicated people you will ever meet,” NDOW Director Tony Wasley said. “These awards shine a light not only on the dedicated service of these individuals, but also highlight Nevada, state employees in general, and NDOW employees specifically.”

Now one year since the pandemic began, the Department reflects upon and shares the following accomplishments:

Agency Accolades

• During the Association for Conservation Information virtual annual conference, NDOW was recognized with several national awards including Best Educational Program, Best Communications Campaign, and Best Social Media Campaign.

• NDOW was named a finalist for the 2021 Cashman Good Government Award, presented by the Nevada Taxpayers Association.

• The Jordan Meadows Collaborative was awarded the 2020 Sagebrush Steppe Stewardship Award by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Individual Accolades

• The United States Coast Guard (USCG) has confirmed the upcoming issuance of the USCG Silver Lifesaving Medal and two USCG Public Service awards to three NDOW Game Wardens for a dramatic rescue on Mother’s Day 2020 conducted by NDOW wardens, who rescued 11 people including a 3-year-old girl trapped under a capsized vessel.

• Aaron Meier, NDOW Boating Education coordinator, received the Spirit of ACI Award from the Association for Conservation Information, and was also recognized by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators as both the National and Western Region Boating Educator of the Year.

• Game Warden Victor Jordan was recognized by iHeartRadio station 93.1 in Las Vegas for his contributions to boating safety on Lake Mead and Lake Mohave when they named him “First Responder of the Month” for October 2020.

• NDOW Wildlife Staff Specialist Shawn Espinosa received the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2019 Environmental Leadership Award.

• NDOW Wildlife Area Supervisor Bennie Vann was awarded the 2019 Ted C. Frantz Employee of the Year Award.

Program Adaptability

• COVID protocols necessitated that NDOW’s Conservation Education Division stop holding in-person education programs, including the mandatory Hunter Education class. Program coordinators researched digital options and made the necessary adjustments to continue offering educational programming virtually. 

• The virtual Hunter Education class made it possible for NDOW to receive a record number of applications for the state’s coveted big game tags.

• To ensure the 2020 Big Game Application Process was available and functional, personnel from the Data and Technology Services Division setup remote workstations. During that time, NDOW personnel responded to nearly 16,000 application-related phone calls. When the application period closed, sales were up 13.2 percent.

•The NDOW Geographical Information System staff completed several projects including developing an online application called FishNV that includes a map of all fishable waters in Nevada and information about the fish that can be caught in those waters. Visit for information.



• An ongoing drought in 2020 has brought significant challenges to Nevada’s wildlife. Personnel from across the Department joined forces to haul and deliver more than 150,000 gallons of water to 38 guzzlers—manmade water developments—in 17 mountain ranges to bring relief to wildlife.

• The Sagebrush Conservation Strategy was developed by a team of 94 scientists and specialists from 34 Federal and State agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations. The strategy provides guidance in collaborative efforts to conserve sagebrush habitat.

• NDOW raised more than $1 million via big game tag auctions for wildlife conservation.

• The Habitat Division treated approximately 61,000 acres damaged by wildfire in 2020. This brings the total acreage treated to more than 250,000 since 2017.