Sunday, February 13, 2000


Cumberland Conservation Shines


By Jim Pettit

Assistant sports editor

Hoist a broom over the Market House, it’s a clean sweep for Fayetteville and the Cape Fear region.

Count ’em up.

Not one, not two, but three region representatives walked away with 1999 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Saturday night in Raleigh as the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) honored those who serve the cause of wildlife protection and enhancement.

Lee Warren

Contributed photo

Lee Warren was named North Carolina's Sportsman of the Year.

Lee Warren was named North Carolina Sportsman of the Year, and Lt. Brent Spivey of the Wildlife Resources Commission’s enforcement division was named Officer of the Year. Spivey, who served as sergeant for District 4 since 1994, was promoted to lieutenant recently.

The Cumberland County Wildlife Club also received an award as the top NCWF affiliate with more than 100 members. The club was originally nominated for the state’s top hunter safety education award, but the selection committee chose to upgrade the nomination due to the club’s overall achievements.

Warren is an avid outdoorsman who particularly enjoys duck hunting. He has a real estate firm in Cumberland County and is a county commissioner.

It is the second year in a row a major Governor’s award has come to Cumberland County. Land developer Dohn Broadwell was Conservationist of the Year last year.

The Sportsman of the Year award is presented ‘‘for outstanding and exemplary efforts by an individual in the area of sportsmanship, including the encouragement and promotion of good sportsmanship among peers and a public stance for those principles in an effort to influence those who do not meet the accepted standards of good sportsmanship.’’


A solid addition


John Pechmann of Fayetteville, chairman of the Wildlife Resources Commission, said Warren is another in a distinguished list of recipients.

‘‘The list of former winners of the Governor’s Achievement Award, Sportsman of the Year, reads like a virtual who’s who of dedicated sportsmen of this state,’’ Pechmann said. ‘‘How fitting it is that the last recipient of the century is our own Lee Warren. He is a conservation hero and, through dedicated and hard work, has promoted good sportsmanship to his peers and, particularly, to the youth of this county. As a sportsman in Cumberland County, his friend, and as chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, it was my honor to nominate him.’’


A big surprise


‘‘It was a big surprise,’’ Warren said, ‘‘but to be honest, I feel there are probably a lot of people in North Carolina a whole lot more deserving than I am. But I feel very honored to even be considered for it.’’

Those who know Warren’s love of the outdoors and dedication to wildlife conservation would challenge that. In addition to his work with Ducks Unlimited, he is a member of environmental groups such as the Delta Waterfowl Association and the Hyde County Waterfowl Association, which raises funds to purchase baby ducks for release into the coastal areas. He is also a member of the Cumberland County Wildlife Club and enjoys canoeing and kayaking on the Cape Fear and other rivers.

Warren was the first Green Wing project chairman for the Cumberland chapter of Ducks Unlimited, a program that exposes youth to outdoor and wildlife experiences. It has grown from 24 participants in 1989 to more than 500 last year.


Works with youth


Warren is a volunteer reader in the public schools. ‘‘A lot of times we try to read things that will promote the environment,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s something that has been a lot of fun for me, to read to young children.’’

Warren learned to love outdoors activity on his grandfather’s farm in Sampson County.

‘‘I grew up in Fayetteville, but every opportunity I got to get out in the country and to walk in the woods, fish, hunt rabbits or squirrels, and different things like that, I really enjoyed,’’ he said.

His father, J. Lee Warren Sr., was also instrumental in his development as a sportsman.

‘‘My father wasn’t a hunter, but he taught me to fish at an early age and some of my fondest memories are of the times that I got to spend with him fishing,’’ Warren said. ‘‘I recall the times when he would take my brother, Jon, and I fishing in some of the local ponds around Fayetteville. Later on, I graduated to fishing at the coast and eventually to deep-sea fishing. He not only taught me how to fish and captain a boat, but also how to preserve our most precious natural resources.

‘‘I remember once when we were in our boat at the coast and came upon a large buck deer that was swimming in the inlet and was apparently disoriented. My father immediately came alongside the deer and guided him to safe ground. He also taught me respect for firearms as well as the property of others.’’

Warren has hunted with gun or bow for such species as deer, bear, dove, and migratory birds.


An early start


‘‘I think I was about 12-years-old when my father bought me my first rifle,’’ Warren said. ‘‘I think it was from a Sheriff’s Department auction. It was a Winchester .22 lever-action rifle and I think he gave $11 for it. And the next year, he got me a shotgun from the same source. I guess those were the first firearms ever at our house.’’

Warren doesn’t have to be hunting to enjoy the outdoors.

‘‘A perfect day for me outdoors would involve my family,’’ he said. Warren and his wife, Sue, have five children. There are four daughters (Tammy, Danielle, Joy, and Jennifer) and a son, J. Lee Warren III, better known as Tripp.

‘‘An enjoyable day outdoors would be building and putting up some bluebird nesting boxes, some wood duck boxes, walking out in the woods, or just enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. That’s one reason I enjoy living out in the country (River Road in Eastover). You have a little space and a little air. I’m five minutes from downtown, but it feels like I’m 30 miles out.’’


Through the ranks


Spivey was District 4 officer of the year in 1991, but this is his first statewide honor.

Spivey Spivey

‘‘I knew I was nominated, but I was surprised that I got it,’’ Spivey said. ‘‘It was a privilege to win the district award, and you just don’t really think about winning the state award.’’

Spivey is 34-years-old and has been in the enforcement division since 1987.

He is a native of Gatesville and began his wildlife enforcement career in Columbus County. He was working in Robeson County when he was promoted to sergeant and moved to Fayetteville in March of 1994. His promotion to lieutenant became official at the first of this month.

Spivey will continue to live in Fayetteville. His responsibilities will expand to include Bladen and Sampson counties as well as Cumberland and Harnett.

‘‘I really lucked out in that I don’t have to move,’’ Spivey said. ‘‘Basically, I’ll do the same kinds of things I did as a sergeant but at a higher level. I’ll be making sure enforcement activities are carried out in those counties, and hunting and boating safety are conducted,’’ he said, ‘‘and I’ll probably be involved with a lot more paperwork.’’


An efficient district


Spivey’s efforts helped make District 4 one of the best-run in the state. He was active in hunting and boating safety efforts, including the development -- with the aid of the Cumberland County Wildlife Club -- of a mobile BB gun range that allows youngsters to learn the fundameentals of shooting safety. The deciding edge in determining the award, though, may have been his work on a television program.

Spivey appears on a weekly outdoors show on WKFT (Ch. 40), the North Carolina Wildlife Journal, which airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

‘‘It just kind of all fell together for me,’’ he said.

A student of history, Spivey is a Civil War reenactor. He also enjoys playing disc golf on Sundays with friends.

He and his wife, Andrea, have a 19-month-old son, Cole.

‘‘I pretty much dedicate my spare time to being with my family,’’ he said, ‘‘but I’m still active in reenactments and I enjoy disc golf out at Arnette Park. I started out playing regular golf, but it was so expensive and time-consuming. When I found this game, it has the same principles as golf, but without the time and expense.’’

Spivey holds an associate’s degree in commercial art from Chowan College. He is a 1984 graduate of Gates County High School.


Hard-working club


The Cumberland County Wildlife Club meets twice a month and, depending on the season of the year, carries a membership of 100 to 150.

‘‘It’s very rare that you have three individuals or groups from the same county getting such awards in the same year,’’ said Joe Darden, secretary of the Cumberland club. ‘‘Everyone in the club certainly feels very honored.’’

George Lott is president of the club. Danny Stanley serves as vice president and treasurer.

The club award is given to a federation chapter ‘‘for outstanding accomplishment as an organization in affecting wildlife and natural resource conservation, or outstanding contribution to the conservation programs of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation during the year.’’

There are two categories for the award: clubs with more than 100 members and clubs with fewer than 100 members.

‘‘We’ve won it once before but it was way, way back there,’’ Lott said. ‘‘I had just come into the club, but I remember that it meant a lot to us then because it was sort of the pinnacle of what we strive for.

‘‘And now, this year, when I’ve been a part of it from the leadership role, I can appreciate it even more. A fellow told me a long time ago -- a successful businessman -- that if you take the right people and put them in the right job, things will kind of fall into place.’’


The right choices


Lott quickly set about putting that advice into action.

‘‘The first thing I did when I became president of the wildlife club was get Danny (Stanley) to be the vice president. He’s kind of a mover and a shaker,’’ Lott said. ‘‘And Joe Darden had, years ago, been president of the club and then the secretary, but like a lot of us, he’d gotten out of it and gone into other things. I went to Joe to see if he would come back. He’d gotten through raising his kids and thought about it for a while and told me that he would come back, that he had missed it. So I knew when I got Joe to be the secretary that all the paperwork was taken care of.

‘‘And it was Joe who had the idea and put together the team of instructors for the hunter safety course. Over the past four or five years, there’s no telling how many people we have educated, from children to adults. I think a lot of them were really surprised at what they learned, even if they didn’t plan to hunt.’’

Lott said the club is filled with willing workers.

‘‘It’s all been through the effort of those boys,’’ Lott said, ‘‘and I’m proud of them and the award.’’

Cumberland County has plenty to be proud of today.

Jim Pettit can be reached at 486-3536 or

Local material copyright (c) 2000 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer