‘City Boy’ Now Wildlife Advocate
James Goughnour spent most of his childhood as a city boy, with no experience in the outdoors. He’s made up for it ever since.
Recently, Gov. Doug Ducey appointed the Payson resident to the Arizona Game & Fish Department board of commissioners. The state senate is expected approve his appointment in February or March. Once confirmed, Goughnour, 68, will play a major role in decisions that affect wildlife, hunting and fishing and recreation around the state.
“I am absolutely thrilled and I consider it an honor to have this position as commissioner,” he said.
Goughnour Discovers The Outdoors
Few could have predicted he’d wind up in this position after spending much of his childhood living in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. It wasn’t until his family moved to Pittsburgh suburb Bethel Park that Goughnour discovered the outdoors.
“I’m a first generation hunter and angler,” Goughnour said. “My family didn’t hunt or fish. I was probably 12 when we moved to a more rural area, so it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I first started to experience the outdoors. I loved everything about it. I developed an immediate love for the outdoors.”
He checked out library books and devoured any magazine story he could find on hunting, fishing and camping. “I read everything I could and just kind of taught myself a lot of the outdoor skills,” he said. “So I kind of acquired a lot of the hunting and fishing knowledge on my own.”
Goughnour moved to Arizona more than 40 years ago. He worked at General Dynamics Space Systems in Scottsdale for 26 years before retiring as a project manager in 2006. He moved to Payson shortly after that and opened his own business, Rim Country Custom Rods. He’s been heavily involved in the outdoors since. He writes the weekly newsletter “Rim Country Fishing Report,” which he shares with The Roundup.
Gila County Roundtable
When fishing conditions at Roosevelt Lake declined because of the invasive gizzard shad, he started the Gila County Roundtable and served as the chair. The GCR worked with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to target the problem and find solutions, which included the introduction of Florida strain bass and man-made fish habitat to the lake. The joint effort between the community and AZGFD has proven to be a great success and re-established Roosevelt Lake as a top spot for sport fishing.
Focus Now On Conservation
Goughnour said he’s evolved from a hunter/angler to more of a conservationist. “As I got older and became more mature that’s when I started to think more about conservation and managing the wildlife,” he said. “We need to protect our wildlife. That’s where my focus is now, rather than being out there hunting and fishing.”
Mogollon Sporting Association
He joined the Mogollon Sporting Association about eight years ago and served as vice president for about three months when MSA president Jack Koon died. Goughnour took over and spent two and a half years as president before his latest one-year term expired on Dec. 31.
The MSA’s mission is to enhance wildlife, the environment, education and the economy in Mogollon Rim Country by supporting youth, local quality game management and local businesses.“I’ve always felt whether it is the MSA or the Gila County Roundtable … , I’ve always been driven to give back to the community,” Goughnour said. “I think it all comes together under this current role. I can see all the different pieces that kind of attracted me to this position.”
Anxious To Get Started
He can’t wait to get started in his new role.
“We (Rim Country) are the heart of the hunting and fishing for the state,” he told The Roundup. “We are fortunate to have most of the large game species in the state right within our Rim Country community and I am excited and honored to be able to represent our hunters and anglers and all outdoors people — because we also get involved in trail and forest management; conservation type efforts.”
Goughnour and Patrick W. Headington of Yuma were finalists to fill the seat held by James R. Ammons of Yuma. Ammons was appointed to the seat on Jan. 20, 2014. Commissioners serve five-year terms. Each year one of the five commissioners’ terms expires and a person is appointed to take that place. The AZGFD Commission Appointment Recommendation Board forwarded the names of Goughnour and Headington to the governor’s office for consideration to fill the seat.
They were among three candidates interview by the board at the AZGFD headquarters in Phoenix on Nov. 13. The three were selected for interviews from a group of 11 applicants considered by the Appointment Recommendation Board at its Oct. 23 meeting.