Congratulations to the Recipients of the 2016 NAWMP Awards!
International Canvasback Award Recipients
Dr. Rollin "Rollie" Sparrowe was a leader in wildlife research and management for almost 4 decades. His career in three national organizations focused on translating science into effective conservation action and policy. Sparrowe was among the most important driving forces to the development and implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.
The NAWMP was written during his tenure as chief of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's Office of Migratory Bird Management, which provided survey data and science to guide the development and implementation of the plan, a cooperative effort among the Service, state representatives and Canadian officials.
Sparrowe not only guided the plan's development, but also initiated the NAWMP Implementation Committee to provide the vision and support to bring it to fruition. While guiding this effort, he also had to skillfully navigate the challenging drought period of the 1980s by developing sound waterfowl harvest regulations to ensure the sustainability of this resource. He had the courage and knowledge to make scientifically and professionally sound decisions in the face of political scrutiny and public acrimony. During this period, he advanced both habitat and harvest management into the modern era of adaptive management.
As Deputy Assistant Director for Refuges and Wildlife with the Service, Sparrowe further advanced the NAWMP and was a leading force in the passage of the hallmark legislation of North American Wetlands Conservation Act in 1989. His involvement with and support of the plan continued for many years after.
Blue-winged Teal Award Recipients - United States
In the mid-1990s, Ken Babcock became an international voice for advancing waterfowl harvest and habitat management. He was a leader in expanding the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and improving the science and process underpinning the development of harvest management regulations for waterfowl.
Babcock served as the Mississippi Flyway representative to the National Flyway Council, collaborating with states and provinces to advance important conservation issues and represent the flyway to the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service’s Service Regulations Committee.
Babcock became a spokesman and leader for implementation of improved harvest surveys through the newly designed Harvest Information Program, through which states and federal agencies gathered improved data to help understand the impact of harvest on waterfowl and webless migratory bird populations. His common-sense approach to using good science to base habitat and harvest decisions was adopted across the continent.
In 1997, Babcock retired from Missouri Department of Conservation and became the Director of Operations for Ducks Unlimited, Inc., in Jackson, MS. He led DU's Southern Region in restoring and protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of continentally important habitat in four joint ventures, and he was brought to the headquarters for Ducks Unlimited to develop a strategic plan for the organization. Babcock served Ducks Unlimited in the United States, Canada and Mexico in designing habitat conservation programs that will leave a legacy for decades to come.
He also served on the NAWMP 2012 Revision Steering Committee.
Dr. Curtis Hopkins
In 1999 Dr. Curtis Hopkins became the Director of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited’s Southern Regional Office, administering conservation programs across 15 states, and leading over 70 staff. Through his leadership, the Southern Regional Office achieved the milestone of more than 1 million acres of habitat conserved in support of the NAWMP.
Hopkins and his staff provided effective leadership and critical support for partnerships across the Southeast, including the Gulf Coast, Lower Mississippi Valley and Atlantic Coast joint ventures. He provided unfailing leadership as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Gulf Coast and Lower Mississippi Valley JV Management Boards, respectively, for many years.
Hopkins' contributions to NAWMP are manifold. As Ducks Unlimited’s first Private Lands Conservation Director beginning in 1990, Hopkins prepared the first North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant proposal for private lands work in the duck-rich Delta of Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi – work that has multiplied and continues today.
He was responsible for developing the first cooperative agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, enabling DU to restore lands enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program – an agreement that was soon expanded to multiple states in the southeast, enabling a quarter of a million acres of wetland restoration. The legacy of this first agreement’s partnership spirit lives on today within thriving, productive collaborations among NRCS and other LMVJV partners throughout the Mississippi Alluvial Valley in pursuit of NAWMP objectives.
In keeping with his tireless dedication to conservation, Hopkins took on the role of Executive Secretary of the Southeastern Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies upon his retirement from DU in 2013, where he continues to serve waterfowl.
Dr. Joseph P. Fleskes
Dr. Joseph Fleskes, a former U.S Geological Survey wildlife research biologist for the Western Ecological Research Center in California, developed and led a research program aimed at improving management of migratory waterfowl and wetland habitats. His findings have greatly influenced management practices throughout California and other important waterfowl regions.
Fleskes focused his career on providing managers with an understanding of the biological impacts of their habitat conservation programs. His research demonstrated how varying amounts and types of habitat affected wintering waterfowl body condition and mortality from disease and predation. Results of these evaluations provided critical feedback that allowed refinement of habitat goals and improved the success of these programs. Conservation planning for the Central Valley Joint Venture, Intermountain West Joint Venture and other habitat conservation organizations and agencies is greatly improved as a result of Fleskes’ research, and provided what Fleskes stated as a “real purpose” for his research.
Fleskes’ findings have broad implications, and his contributions to waterfowl conservation are central to the success of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in the Pacific Flyway.
Blue-winged Teal Award Recipients - Canada
The Hagan Family
The Hagan family are cattle and horse ranchers in Virden, Manitoba. The family farm is dominated by grasslands and wetlands and much of their livestock management occurs on horseback. Their goal is to build a farming business for future generations that will not compromise the health of the land or the region.
As agricultural development pressures intensify, the Hagans were discouraged by increasing drainage and conversion to annual cropping in their area. Influenced by their conservation values, in 2003, they were the first group in their area to sign a conservation easement. Their desire to improve and protect natural resources soon inspired other farm operators and landowners to follow suit.
Today, the Hagan farm operation continues to expand and the Hagan extended family has completed 18 easements, permanently protecting 4,885 acres of natural lands , including 2,020 acres of wetlands. Over 14 species of waterfowl, 5 at-risk grassland bird species and many other species of wildlife species call these lands home. The Hagan easements are the largest collection within a single farm operation in Manitoba – by a large margin.
Pictured above: The Hagan Family. Credit Manitoba Habitat Heritage Corporation.
Throughout his extensive career spanning more than 30 years, Lyle Saigeon has been a passionate and articulate advocate for wildlife and conservation programs, and has been an ambassador for NAWMP since the beginning of the program.
Saigeon began his career as a biologist at Ducks Unlimited Canada, continued with the Nature Conservancy of Canada as Regional Vice President in Saskatchewan, and then became Executive Director of Fish & Wildlife Branch for Saskatchewan Environment. He now works for British Columbia Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Saigeon's involvement with the NAWMP includes managing NAWMP delivery in Saskatchewan, when he was instrumental in bringing international recognition to the Missouri Coteau; his role in the creation of the Thunder Creek Heritage Marsh project; and being a board member on the Canadian Intermountain Joint Venture.
Saigeon has been a highly engaged member of many committees, including the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture Advisory Board and the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada). He expanded his role to participate on the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Directors and the NAWMP Plan Committee in recent years. He also participated on the NAWMP Interim Integration Committee to lead the implementation of the 2012 Plan Revision.
Pictured above: Lyle Saigeon (l) receives his Blue-winged Teal Award from David Ingstrup, regional director with Environment and Climate Change Canada. Credit: Dale Humburg.
During his 35-year career with the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Daniel Bordage made substantial contributions to migratory bird conservation and management in Canada and more broadly. For the majority of his career, Daniel’s work focused on waterfowl and ecosystem analysis.
Bordage is particularly noted for his long-standing membership and contributions to the Black Duck Joint Venture since its inception in 1986. He has been the co-chair of its Technical Committee, a member of the Adaptive Harvest Management Working Group and was instrumental in the development of monitoring methodologies for waterfowl breeding pairs in the boreal forest, particularly the Black Duck. His survey work has helped fill the gap on the understanding of numbers and distributions of Black Ducks in Canada, influencing international conservation and management programs for this species.
With his professional background and rigor, Bordage worked at the interface of science and policy and has contributed to the modernization of the Migratory Bird Regulations in Canada.