Fish and Wildlife Service Awards Southeast Conservation Partners
for Contributions During FY 2006
Tom Mackenzie, 404-679-7291
The American Bald Eagle Foundation in Sevierville, Tennessee, which
operates the largest bald eagle captive breeding and exhibit facility
in the world, was among 15 partners that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
honored today in Atlanta, Georgia. They were awarded for their outstanding
contributions to wildlife and natural resource conservation.
“People from all walks of life - - foundations,
government agencies, conservation organizations, and businesses - - are
being honored today,” said
Sam D. Hamilton, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director, who
presented the awards. “They all have one thing in common; their
notable achievements on behalf of our nation’s natural resources.
Today, we celebrate their accomplishments, and thank them for their continuing
Southeast Regional Director’s Conservation Awards for Fiscal Year
2006 by state:
Barry Grand, U.S, Geological Survey, Auburn University
facilitated the development and continued advancement of the East Gulf
Coastal Plain Joint Venture, by accomplishing key administrative goals.
The Joint Venture’s
purpose is to oversee and coordinate bird conservation activities.
David H. Estes, Assistant United States Attorney’s Office, in
Huntsville worked closely with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Law
Enforcement Officers in Decatur, to ensure that the refuge remains
a safe place to visit. Estes is helping to combat drug-related crimes,
American Indian artifacts theft, and illicit activity. During 2006,
30 individuals were prosecuted for illicit activity at hiking trails
on the refuge. To date, combined, defendants who have been sentenced
have received more than two years of jail time, 26 years of probation
and ban from the refuge, one deportation, and over $8,000 in fines.
Audubon of Florida Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland
is dedicated to preserving birds of prey through rehabilitation, citizen
science, and environmental education. Through the Center’s EagleWatch
program, more than 300 rehabilitated eagles have been banded with Fish
and Wildlife Service bands and successfully released to the wild. Many
of these bald eagles have nested and increased the wild population.
The Center also assists the Service by caring for injured eagles and
providing carcasses to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository
to be distributed to American Indians.
Nicholas Aumen, Ph.D., National Park Service, Everglades Program Team,
A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County plays
a crucial role in the protection and restoration of water quality in
south Florida and the Everglades. In addition to his duties at Everglades
National Park, he is an expert on the water regulation schedule and water
management operations at the refuge.
Penny Cook, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tequesta
Field Laboratory, conducted three years of ground-breaking research by
inventorying all of the existing water-control structures and major canals
to determine manatee accessibility and entrapment risk. Using her information,
manatees can be excluded from areas where there is possibility of entrapment
by modifying the structures with appropriate manatee exclusion devices.
Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan Development Team, River Basin Center
of the Institute of Ecology of the University of Georgia, is working
with local governments to develop ordinances and policies to protect
and recover rare aquatic species in the Etowah River basin while allowing
for continued development and economic growth in the area.
Sergeant Steve Seitz, Georgia Department of Natural
Resources, Blue Ridge partnered with the Service’s Office of Law Enforcement during
two investigations in 2006. The first focused on the unlawful take, purchase,
and sale internationally-protected plants, American ginseng and lady’s
slipper orchids within and along the southern Appalachians. The second,
a multi-state investigation, targeted the illegal sale and purchase
of protected freshwater turtles.
Rocky Pritchert, waterfowl biologist, Kentucky Department
of Fish and Wildlife Resources: In the last seven years, Pritchert
and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources have banded
an average of 1,883 wood ducks annually. This is more than twice its
quota suggested by the Service and more than any other state in the
Mississippi Flyway of the Southeast Region. Wood ducks are the Southeast’s
most common breeding duck and the second most popular waterfowling
species after the mallard.
The Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Cleanup Team, consisting
of five people from agencies and businesses in Louisiana, Tennessee,
and Texas, managed the removal of more than 12,700 hazardous materials
and debris from 32,000 acres of marsh habitat at Sabine, Cameron Prairie,
and Lacassine National Wildlife Refuges after the Fiscal Year 2005
hurricane season. The team members were also responsible for overseeing
more than 150 personnnel and all of the specialized equipment involved
in this effort.
Michael Runge, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center, Laurel is responsible for several scientific
breakthroughs aiding recovery efforts for the endangered Florida manatee.
His contributions have ranged from helping to identify potential levels
of incidental take associated with regulatory actions, to working on
a comprehensive threats analysis to better assess the Florida manatee’s
Angie Brady-Daniels and Sue Carroll, Outer Banks Chamber
of Commerce in Kill Devil Hills are “friends” and advocates
of Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges in eastern
North Carolina, particularly in their roles as organizers for Wings
Over Water, a six-day, annual community birding festival.
In the 10 years since Wings Over Water began, the Chamber has registered
more than 2,500 participants and have processed more than $150,000
in this procedure. The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce has a major
impact on relationships between the two refuges and the community.
Joe Fuller, migratory bird coordinator, North Carolina Wildlife Resources
Commission, oversees the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s
wood duck banding program which is essential to wood duck conservation
in the Southeast’s portion of the Atlantic Flyway.
The American Eagle Foundation in Sevierville, Tennessee, founded in
1985, conducts projects to restore and protect eagles. The Foundation
rehabilitates injured and orphaned eagles, and releases eagles into the
wild. It assists the Service with rescuing and caring for injured eagles
and provides charitable grants to other organizations for the protection
of eagles and their habitats.
The River Engineering Team of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, Memphis District, is responsible for constructing and maintaining
aquatic habitat-restoration projects to benefit federally-listed species,
restore fish passage, improve native fisheries habitat, and increase
public recreation opportunities, without adversely impacting the Corps’ Congressionally mandated
flood control and navigation missions. An outstanding example of such
a project is the Bend of Island 63 habitat restoration project in Coahoma
County, Mississippi. A cooperative project between the Corps, the Service,
the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, and the Mississippi
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Parks’ Fisheries Division,
the project opened a dike to provide fish passage and improve habitat.
Keith Saxe, Department of Justice, provides legal advice
and guidance that directs the Service’s and the Department of
efforts toward Everglades restoration and assists the Service with
water quality issues at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National
Wildlife Refuge in the northern Everglades.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible
for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, 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 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands,
and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish
hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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 governments with their conservation
efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds
of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment
to state fish and wildlife agencies.