Newsroom Midwest Region

News release
May 17, 2017

Georgia Parham, 812-334-4261 x 203,

Moving the needle toward recovery: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honors midwest endangered species recovery champions

Portraits of four Recovery Champion award winners at work.
Recovery Champions Kris Lah, Mark Hove, Mike Davis and Bernard Sietman. Photos by Minnesota DNR, University of Minnesota and USFWS.

A breakthrough conservation discovery and a career devoted to finding solutions for at-risk species define the winners of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2018 Endangered Species Recovery champions for the Midwest Region. The Midwest champions join individuals and teams across the United States who are recognized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their work last year with endangered and threatened species.

Bernard Sietman and Mike Davis from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Mark Hove from the University of Minnesota, were acknowledged for their breakthrough work with the endangered spectaclecase, a freshwater mussel. Mussels have a complex life history, relying on specific fish to host their young. Identifying the host species for the spectaclecase has been a significant challenge for managers working to enhance the species’ populations. Sietman, Davis and Hove worked with partners to discover the host fish species, the goldeye.

“These biologists were rightly hailed by mussel biologists across the country for their discovery, an accomplishment 20 years in the making,” said Charlie Wooley, the Service’s acting Midwest Regional Director. “Armed with this knowledge, we and our partners can now plan conservation efforts like captive rearing and reintroduction of the spectaclecase. This is a huge stride toward recovering this species.”
The Service also recognized Kristopher Lah, a Service wildlife biologist working at the agency’s Chicago Ecological Services Field Office. Lah has spent the past 18 years working to recover the endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly. The Service noted his dedication and skill at building coalitions among stakeholders, including government agencies, utilities, researchers and private companies to manage, restore and create habitat for the rare dragonfly. Among many accomplishments, Lah was instrumental in developing techniques that helped managers use herbicides to control invasive plants while protecting the dragonfly.

“The work Kris has done over the years for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly, his leadership and his vision for the dragonfly’s future, have helped conserve this imperiled species,” Wooley said. “His ability to forge partnerships and find solutions to tough conservation challenges has been key to success for the Hine’s emerald dragonfly.”

The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002 as a one-time recognition for Service staff members for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

Learn more about the Recovery Champion awards.

Learn more about the spectaclecase, Hine’s emerald dragonfly and other endangered species in the Midwest Region.

Various sizes of spectaclecase mussels
Spectaclecase mussels. Photo by Jorge Buening/USFWS.