Joshua Winchell 202 208-5634
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation today recognized individuals and organizations whose cooperative efforts have helped conserve the nation's fish and wildlife and the habitat they require to survive.
Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Legislator of the Year Awards were presented to Congressman Jim Saxton of New Jersey, Senator James Inhofe and Congressman John Sullivan of Oklahoma. In 2006, Congressman Saxton sponsored the National Fish Hatchery System Volunteer Act, which enhances an existing volunteer program of the Fish and Wildlife Service and promote community partnerships for the benefit of national fish hatcheries and fisheries program offices. Under the leadership of Congressman Saxon the bill was approved by Congress and signed into law. Congressman Sullivan and Senator Inhofe played a key role in getting the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Act approved by Congress and signed into law in 2006. The bill provides unparalleled opportunities to benefit species and habitats at risk on private lands and provides legislative backing for one of the Service's most effective cooperative conservation programs.
"I am very pleased to present Senator Inhofe and Congressmen Sullivan and Saxton with the Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Legislator of the Year Award," said H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is lucky to have them as partners in conservation."
The Partners Program provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and Tribes who are willing to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners on a voluntary basis to help meet the habitat needs of threatened and endangered species.
During the awards ceremony, held in Washington, D.C., other conservation partners were recognized as Fisheries and Habitat Conservation Partners of the Year. Awardees included:
- The Nisqually Tribe of the Pacific Northwest for their leadership in salmon recovery for the Nisqually watershed.
- Amy Unthank of the U.S. Forest Service for her leadership in Gila trout recovery.
- David Wigglesworth of the Municipality of Anchorage for spearheading urban conservation through the city?s ?Salmon in the City? program.
- The Association of State Wetland Managers for bringing together effective partnerships for the protection and management of wetland resources and the wildlife that depend on them.
- The South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts for their work to help recover the listed Topeka shiner and conserve the Dakota Skipper butterfly.
- Conservation Fisheries, Inc. for their dedication to recovery of imperiled Southeastern fishes, including the culture of 16 listed fishes and maintaining 11 'ark' populations of extremely rare vertebrates.
- The Sand County Foundation for their work with 39 landowners to conserve 1,700 acres of important habitat for the Karner blue butterfly.
"The Fisheries and Habitat Conservation program covers such a vast arena. From habitat and resource conservation, to fish and wildlife management and restoration, to fish hatcheries and fish technology," said Mamie Parker, Assistant Director for Fisheries and Habitat Conservation. "Many of our accomplishments would not have been achieved were it not for our partners. We appreciate their tenacity and willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we set our course and pursue our conservation goal."
Martin MacDonald, Bass Pro Shop's Director of Corporate Public Relations, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. MacDonald's support for the National Fish Habitat Action Plan was critical in getting the program off to a successful start. The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is a non-regulatory, voluntary effort focused and targeted toward fisheries protection, restoration and enhancement in key watersheds. With locally-driven conservation efforts linked nationally, it facilitates comprehensive coordination and evaluation of aquatic resources conservation progress.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 96-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices, and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American Tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.