Amy Gaskill, (503) 231-6874
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Region yesterday announced the regional winners of the 2006 National Recovery Champion Award, an annual award recognizing the exceptional efforts of Service partners and employees in conserving threatened and endangered species in the United States.
Paul Scheerer, a fish researcher with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Corvallis, Oregon, and Joanne Stellini, a grants program coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lacey, Washington, were nominated by their peers and selected as 2 of 16 honorees nationwide.
"We are very pleased that Paul and Joanne have earned this distinction," said Ren Lohoefener, director of the Service's Pacific Region. "Their exemplary work reminds us all of the dedication and perseverance it takes to put the Northwest's endangered plants and animals on the road to recovery."
The two honorees received their awards Thursday evening from Service Director Dale Hall during a reception at the North American Wildlife Conference in Portland.
Scheerer is recognized for his decades of leadership in fish conservation. He began his career as a fisheries biological aide for the Environmental Protection Agency and spent the last 15 years working to preserve threatened and endangered fish species in Oregon. His work has enabled recovery efforts for species including the Oregon chub, Hutton tui chub, Borax Lake chub, Foskett speckled dace and Warner sucker.
"As a leader in fish conservation in the region, Paul has been invaluable. He is one of those rare individuals who is both tirelessly dedicated to the resource and also able to effectively engage federal, state and community groups in the effort," Lohoefener said.
"Paul has toiled in the trenches putting actions on the ground that have greatly improved the status of the Oregon Chub, a species that isn't very well known," says Bruce McIntosh, Asst. Conservation and Recovery Program Manager for ODFW. "Paul's recognition is a testament to his hard work and dedication as well as a milestone on the way to successfully achieving the goals laid out in the Oregon Conservation Strategy."
Stellini's innovative partnership-building in grants programs earned her recognition as a Recovery Champion. Stellini has worked since 2000 to coordinate efforts between the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and other partners to obtain conservation grants for species in the area. Stellini's efforts led to unprecedented funding for land acquisition programs and will help meet the recovery needs of species such as the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit and the Columbian white-tailed deer.
"Joanne's success in obtaining grants just shows how consensus building and cooperative work are some of the most important methods we can employ to further conservation efforts," Lohoefener said.
"Joanne demonstrates the importance of the biologist in the role of grants manager. Through her understanding of conservation biology, she assists project sponsors in the design of viable, landscape-scale projects that protect multiple species and ecosystems, a lasting legacy for generations to come," said Elizabeth Rodrick Land Conservation Manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The National Recovery Champions program began in 2002 to recognize the outstanding contributions of Service men and women to endangered species recovery. In 2006, the opportunity to recognize Service partners was added to the program. Regional nominees include one Service employee and one Service partner.
For additional information please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Recovery Champion website at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/recovery/champions/index.html
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 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 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.