Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Conservation Partnerships Honored with Interior Department’s 2012 “Partners in Conservation” Awards

October 19, 2012


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes today presented the Department’s 2012 “Partners in Conservation” Awards to 17 organizations that have achieved exemplary conservation results through public-private cooperation and community engagements. Honorees include four partnerships nominated by the Fish and Wildlife Service and several others in which the Service plays a key supporting role.

The Service and other Department of the Interior bureaus are increasingly focused on developing and supporting conservation partnerships to address threats to fish, wildlife and plants at a broader scale. By working with state and federal agencies, tribes, local governments, conservation organizations, private industry and landowners, the Service seeks to leverage its resources and direct them toward on-the-ground conservation initiatives that restore and protect native species and habitat.

Together, award recipients represent hundreds of individuals and organizations from across the United States. “The Partners in Conservation Awards offer wonderful examples of how America’s greatest conservation legacies are created when communities from a wide range of backgrounds work together,” said Hayes, who announced the winners during today’s award ceremony in Washington, D.C. . “These awards recognize dedicated citizens from across our nation who collaborate to conserve and restore America’s Great Outdoors, to encourage youth involvement in conservation and to forge solutions to complex natural resource challenges.”

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe emphasized that partnership-driven conservation is the only way threats like habitat fragmentation and destruction, climate change disruption, water scarcity and invasive species can be addressed.

“The United States faces growing conservation challenges beyond the ability of the Service or any other organization to tackle alone. The scale and scope of these challenges demand that we work together, using the best science, to direct our collective resources where they will do the most good,” Ashe said. “These awards honor some of the most effective and efficient partnerships in the nation, partnerships that have made a real difference for some of our most unique ecosystems and native wildlife.”

This year’s Fish and Wildlife Service-nominated award winners include the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area Partnership, which is working to conserve one of eastern North America’s last great grasslands. The project will eventually span more than 150,000 acres in Central Florida and will protect, restore, and conserve habitat for hundreds of rare species including the Florida panther, Florida black bear, Florida scrub-jay, Everglades snail kite and Eastern indigo snake. Newly protected lands will provide an important link for migratory birds and important habitat for several species of concern. By protecting and restoring the headwaters of the Everglades, the project will contribute to the unprecedented effort to restore and reconnect the river of grass that sustains wildlife and communities in central and south Florida.

The Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan Working Group is helping Alaska’s youth understand and appreciate our natural world. The partnership produced a draft Alaska Environmental Literacy Plan for PreK-12 public schools that ensures all Alaskan students have opportunities to connect with the natural world and to develop the knowledge and skills required to maintain Alaska’s intact ecosystems, its economy and the health of its citizens. Group members are getting Alaska’s students ready to manage Alaska’s rich natural resources wisely for today and future generations.

In the Pacific Northwest, the Central Umpqua-Mid Klamath Oak Habitat Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative is restoring more than 2,000 acres of Oregon white oak habitat by removing encroaching conifers, reseeding native grasses and applying prescribed fire. The exclusion of fire had degraded and highly fragmented oak habitat, which is important for terrestrial neo-tropical migratory birds. In addition to restoring habitat, this partnership provides local tribal employment in up to 90 percent of the on-the-ground work.

Through engagement and stewardship, the Friends of Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge Partnership is a grassroots conservation effort that involves citizens from two states partnering with nonprofit organizations and federal, state and local governments to establish the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge within reach of Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Through engagement and stewardship, the Friends are working to create a long-term vision of people and nature coexisting in rapidly urbanizing areas. The partnership’s efforts have resulted in unprecedented outreach at the local and national level in support of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge and the mission and goals of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

A full list of the Partners in Conservation Award winners is available here.

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