U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Presents 2006 National Recovery Champion Awards
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall today announced the sixteen recipients of the Service’s 2006 National Recovery Champion awards. The Recovery Champion awards recognize outstanding contributions of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and their partners toward efforts aimed at recovering threatened and endangered species in the United States.
“The Recovery Champion awards not only recognize the exceptional conservation accomplishments of the honorees, they also provide the public with a unique opportunity to learn about endangered species conservation,” said Hall. “These Recovery Champions are extraordinary conservationists dedicated to protecting and restoring our nation’s wildlife and ensuring that future generations of Americans enjoy the natural treasures we experience today.”
The 2006 Recovery Champion honorees’ contributions to the conservation of our natural heritage benefit a broad range of endangered and threatened plants and animals. From manatees to mussels, Service employees and their partners have been working to recover our nation’s most imperiled wildlife. Habitat protection, public awareness campaigns, and the development of cutting-edge technology to achieve captive breeding success are just a few examples of this year’s Recovery Champion honorees’ efforts.
Jim Valade of the Service’s Jacksonville, Florida Ecological Services Field Office is one of two of the Southeast Region’s recipients of 2006 National Recovery Champions Awards. For more than 20 years, Valade has spearheaded manatee recovery efforts, doing everything from establishing interagency partnerships and developing effective regulations to rescuing injured animals from entanglement or watercraft-related injury. He also has performed necropsies on hundreds of animals that succumbed to red tide brevitoxin.
In 2005, Valade received an award for his partnership efforts with the U.S. Geological Survey. Valade also serves as the Recovery Liaison to the Manatee Recovery and Implementation Team’s Steering Committee, and is Co-Chair of the Protection Working Group and the Warm Water Task Force. He is actively involved in the Manatee Population Status Working Group and the State of Florida’s Springs Task Force.
Steve Seiber, Chief of Natural Resources at Eglin Air Force Base (Eglin) in Florida has championed recovery efforts for the Okaloosa darter, federally listed as endangered. For his achievements and his long-standing, dedicated partnership with the Service, he earns a 2006 National Recovery Champions Award. Most of this darter’s range is within the boundaries of Eglin Air Force Base. Seiber has forged partnerships with private, state, and federal agencies, helped establish new approaches to habitat management, and integrated watershed management into military activities. For example, the six darter drainages comprise 24 percent of the Eglin reservation. In recent years, Eglin’s Natural Resources Management Branch has received about $1.3 million annually to restore highly erosional areas on the base, of which $715,000 has gone to the darter drainages. Eglin’s management efforts have translated into population gains for the species. The darter persists in all six basins with at least 1,200 mature individuals, and substantial increasing trends are evident in the two largest basins, Turkey Creek and Rocky Creek. The Service estimates that the range wide darter population exceeds 200,000.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of Jim Valade and Steve Seiber,
two critically endangered species, the manatee and the Okaloosa darter,
are progressing toward recovery,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast
Regional Director. “They both are receiving 2006 National Recovery
Champions Awards, but their efforts are ongoing and are not confined
to one year. We recognize their dedicated leadership for each year they
have served. Both men have been aiding their species for 20 years or
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.
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