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The Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228


March 25, 2005
Ken Burton 202-208-5657


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory marked its 30th anniversary March 23 with an awards reception that honored 16 states, four current or former government employees, one academician and Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island for their contributions to wetlands management and conservation.

Matt Hogan, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, thanked the awardees and other partners for "the contributions and support that many of you have brought to bear," noting that "the stewardship of wetlands must be accomplished in collaboration and partnership with the States, and most importantly, with the citizens who give form to our shared mission."

Hogan said that the Service and conservationists in general face natural resource challenges and choices today that did not exist when the National Wetlands Inventory was created three decades ago. "As these issues have evolved," said Hogan, "so has the Inventory."

The National Wetlands Inventory was initiated by the Service in 1975 in response to a dramatic loss of wetlands across the United States. The program provides detailed information on wetlands throughout the U.S. Coastal wetlands and wetlands along major river systems were the first areas where wetlands were mapped because of their biological and economic importance. To date, over 90 percent of the lower 48 states and over 50 percent of Alaska has been inventoried.

Honorees included:

Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, for his "continuing and unwavering support for the conservation of our nation’s wetlands." Senator Chafee was lauded for displaying "steadfast advocacy" for the protection of the environment and wetlands and for his support of and interest in the National Wetlands Inventory and scores of other conservation initiatives. Senator Chafee was recipient of the Congressional Conservation Award.

Dr. Lewis Cowardin, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee, Virginia Carter, a former U.S. Geological Survey employee, Dr. Frank Golet, of the University of Rhode Island and the late Dr. Edward T. LaRoe, who worked for the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and later, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Biological

Survey, were honored for their authorship of the landmark Service report, "Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats in the United States." All four were presented with the program’s Legacy Award, which recognizes "key people who have made landmark accomplishments" with regard to the National Wetlands Inventory.

Dr. Bill O. Wilen of the Fish and Wildlife Service, who has worked on the National Wetlands Inventory for more than 20 years and was a central figure during the genesis of the program in the mid-1970s, was presented a Legacy Award Commendation. Wilen was commended for his "widely recognized opinion in the realm of wetlands resource management and conservation in the Service and among his peers in Federal and State government."

Eighteen Partnership Commendations went to state resources agencies in 16 states, recognizing "the many cooperators who have contributed to the success of the National Wetlands Inventory program over the past three decades." Partnership Commendations specifically recognize State agencies and organizations that have contributed "in substantive ways" to support the mission of the National Wetlands Inventory program over the years. Their support has enabled the Service to digitally map almost half of the United States and help the wetlands program "complete numerous technical reports on wetlands as well as an array of special mapping and assessment projects." Agencies in the following States received Partnership Commendations:

California, Delaware, Georgia (two awards), Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia (two awards) and Washington.

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, 63 Fish and Wildlife Management 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 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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