CPW honors Belveal as Outstanding Technician of the Year for 2022
A tireless work ethic, a commitment to improving habitat and access for hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers and a record of saving the state thousands of dollars by winning grants for projects all helped earn Jeff Belveal the Outstanding Technician of the Year award, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced at an awards ceremony Tuesday.
Belveal was nominated by his Area 14 team based in Colorado Springs and by Southeast Region colleagues who lauded his hard work and infectious positive attitude as he goes about building and fixing fences, planting trees, monitoring trash and even dealing with major flooding events at the wildlife areas he maintains.
"Jeff's boundless energy, contagious enthusiasm, ingenious fabricating skills and creative funding mechanisms make him an invaluable asset not only to our area, but to the state of Colorado and its wildlife," said Tim Kroening, Area Wildlife Manager for Area 14, echoing the words of the nomination.
Belveal started with CPW in July 2012 at Lake Pueblo State Park where he worked as a Park Resource Technician. He transferred to Area 14 in August 2017 and into the role of wildlife technician on the plains east of Colorado Springs. In that position, Belveal oversees five State Wildlife Areas: Flagler, Kinney, Karval, Hugo and Ramah.
But Belveal hasn't limited his work to maintenance and upkeep of those SWAs. He has taken on other major projects including redesigning and fabricating four new bear traps for the area.
Kroening credited Belveal for taking ownership of the project and collaborating with the entire team to create new traps to replace old, rusted and failing traps while saving thousands by doing the work rather than buying traps from a commercial vendor.
"Over the last two years Jeff has built four new bear traps from the ground up," Kroening said. "He gathered feedback from wildlife officers on improvements they wanted in the traps that heighten wildlife officer safety and better protect bears, too.
"These are unique design features not available on commercial traps and really clever features that, I believe, will become the standard in the industry."
Instead of spending an estimated $25,000 apiece to purchase new traps, Belveal's traps cost about $5,000 in materials, plus his time spent, for a savings to the state of roughly $80,000, Kroening said.
"There is nothing like these traps in the world," Kroening said. "They are truly one of a kind. Most people would have said this wasn't possible. But Jeff made it happen."
Another example of Belveal going above-and-beyond, Kroening said, came on the opening day of plains rifle hunting season.
"Jeff was spotted in the early morning hours on a Saturday, before sun-up, running from wildlife area to wildlife area to ensure that his facilities were in pristine condition for hunters who would be arriving soon," Kroening said. "It's not that these facilities were in bad shape, they just were not up to his impeccable standards."
Kroening said Belveal is dedicated to CPW, the state's wildlife and the public.
"Jeff is a perfect example of CPW staff living our mission of protecting Colorado's natural resources," Kroening said. "He does that with his tractor, welding equipment and the rest of his tool box.
"Jeff has been an inspiration to all who work with him. Simply put, Jeff is the epitome of a wildlife technician."