SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor retiring after 42 years

SCDNR Director Alvin Taylor is retiring after 42 years with the agency.

Taylor spent last 7 years as director of agency

Earlier this week, The State Newspaper ran an article with the headline stating “SC Wildlife agency chief quitting…” The headline ruffled more than a few feathers throughout South Carolina’s outdoor world. Alvin Taylor is no quitter.

Long-time outdoor writer Pat Robertson summed it up for us all.

“Having known Alvin all the years he has been with DNR, quit is not a word I would associate with him. Terrible headline,” said Robertson.

And he’s right. Taylor, who has served as the director of SCDNR for the past seven years, spent 42 years with the agency. Now he’s retiring, and a much-deserved retirement it is.

Taylor worked his way through the ranks

Taylor started his career with the SCDNR, which was known as the S.C. Wildlife and Marine Resources Dept. at the time, as a law enforcement officer. He handled a variety of duties, including leading rescue and recovery missions with the agency’s dive team. As the years went on, he climbed the ladder, eventually being promoted to colonel.

In time, Taylor took over the top spot of SCDNR’s Law Enforcement Division, then was named director of the entire agency in 2012. It’s an understatement to say he guided the department through some tough times. He watched as the agency’s budget was cut to a meager fraction of what it had been, and saw many fellow employees pushed out due to downsizing.

And Taylor was instrumental in getting funding for the agency back on track. He pushed for and eventually landed increased funding for many programs and personnel throughout every facet of the agency.

I had the good fortune of speaking with Taylor on a few occasions during DNR functions. You couldn’t ask for a friendlier, more welcoming person. I recall asking him an off-the-wall question about some obscure detail of an SCDNR program or case study I’d heard about and immediately thought to myself that he had so much on his plate, he probably wouldn’t even know what I was talking about, mostly due to my own lack of understanding of whatever the issue was. But he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t bat an eye at my question.

Public land was important to Taylor

“I believe the program you’re talking about is…” And he nailed exactly whatever it was, describing more details of it than I could have ever thought to ask. Safe to say, he knew what was going on throughout all levels of the SCDNR.

Anyone who has hunted or fished in South Carolina during Taylor’s tenure has seen big improvements in many areas of the Palmetto State’s outdoor world. His untiring work to protect more of the state’s land has helped add over a million acres of publicly-usable land that benefits hunters, anglers, and others who just enjoy being out in nature.

I encourage everyone to check out places like the Wateree Heritage Preserve. The Tall Pines Wildlife Management Area is another. These places, and several others like them, are all unique parts of South Carolina’s outdoors that exist for our benefit, no matter what outdoor activity we want to pursue on them. Putting those areas in the public’s hands was important to Taylor, and we all owe a debt of gratitude to his help in securing them.

Taylor also believed in youth programs

Taylor was also instrumental in establishing and growing the SCDNR’s youth shooting program, which now includes more than 44,000 students in schools and clubs from every nook and cranny of the state. A big part of that is the Wateree Range, a shooting sports facility between Columbia and Sumter. The range hosts many youth sporting clays competitions and camps. It’s also open to the general public.

I could go on and on, but it wouldn’t do justice to Taylor’s accomplishments. Forty-two years is a long time. He deserves a peaceful retirement and time to enjoy the outdoor world that he has spent so much time and energy preserving.

And he certainly deserves to not be called a quitter in a headline announcing his retirement.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1363 Articles
Brian Cope of Edisto Island, S.C., is a retired Air Force combat communications technician. He has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina and has been writing about the outdoors since 2006. He’s spent half his life hunting and fishing. The rest, he said, has been wasted.