May 21, 2013
Georgia Parham 812-334-4261 x 1203
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award Winners
Residents of Illinois, Minnesota Honored
Mike Coffey and Nancy Sather are among 61 national Endangered Species Recovery Champions. Photos courtesy of Mike and Nancy.
The story of endangered species conservation in the United States over the past 40 years involves many heroes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recognized 61 of these heroes for their outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2012 Recovery Champions. Among the award winners honored for their work were two biologists, one from Illinois and one from Minnesota.
“Recovery Champion awards acknowledge individuals and groups who have excelled in their efforts to protect and recover our most imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “They exemplify the dedication and determination that has helped save countless animals and plants from extinction and that continues to raise the bar in the field of endangered species conservation.”
Among the national award winners was Nancy Sather, a plant ecologist with Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Sather has been a major figure in the recovery of endangered and threatened plants in Minnesota and the Midwest region for over 20 years. Sather has played central roles in developing recovery plans for at least three federally listed plants – western prairie fringed orchid, prairie bush clover, and Minnesota dwarf trout lily – is a member of two recovery teams, and has served as Recovery Team Leader for western prairie fringed orchid for more than 15 years. For over 15 years Nancy has coordinated one of the most ambitious endangered plant monitoring programs in the United States, providing high quality long term count data for almost 50 local populations of endangered western prairie fringed orchid and Minnesota dwarf trout lily and for the threatened prairie bush clover.
Also honored was Service biologist Mike Coffey, whose work to conserve freshwater mussels in Illinois and Iowa were recognized. Throughout his more than 20 year career, Coffey has led efforts to improve conditions for freshwater mussels, which are among the country’s most imperiled wildlife. Coffey has worked to improve water quality, identify mussels affected by contaminants, and supported efforts to reintroduce mussels into cleaner waters. His activities have resulted in mussel population increases, research breakthroughs, increased public awareness, support for conserving the species, and improved landowner actions and relationships. Mike has been the impetus for partnerships that support the recovery of mussels. Coffey forged partnerships among various agencies, conservation groups and private landowners, all in support of conserving mussel species in Illinois and Iowa.
“We are proud of these endangered species heroes in the Midwest,” said Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “Nancy’s work and keen field observations have revealed key aspects of the life history of rare plants, ensuring that actions we take to conserve these species are effective.”
“Mike has shown an enthusiastic and never-ending commitment to recovering endangered mussels – species that are important indicators of the health of our own environment.”
The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002 as a one-time recognition for Service staff members for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
For information about the 2012 Recovery Champions, please visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/recovery-champions/index.html.
America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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