Fish and Wildlife Service’s Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team Receives Wildlife Management Institute’s 2000 Presidents’ Award at the 66th North American Wildlife Management and Natural Resources Conference. From left: Charles K. Baxter - Team Leader, Rollin Sparrowe - WMI, Russell Watson - Team Member, and Dr. William Uihlein - Team Member. Other FWS Team Members Not Pictured: Bruce Bell, Tim Wilkins, and Will McDearman.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 17, 2001
For pictures and more information; Yazoo
At a special ceremony on March 20 at the 66th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, in Washington, D.C., the Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received the Wildlife Management Institute's prestigious Presidents' Award for 2001. That award commemorates the mission-oriented drive of the Institute's past presidents. It specifically recognizes an agency's department, division, office or program for particular ingenuity, initiative and accomplishments that advance scientific management of natural resources in North America.
"We're very proud of our Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team's significant accomplishment," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. "Our team members have proposed an alternative that would reduce flooding in the area AND allow for ecologically sustainable economic opportunities."
WMI honored the Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for their highly professional evaluation of the proposed Yazoo Backwater Pumps project in west-central Mississippi. For several decades, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has planned to build the largest pumping plant in the western hemisphere at a cost of $181 million. The proposed pumps would further drain the Yazoo Backwater Area floodplain, intensifying agricultural development that already has proven to be economically unsustainable, despite decades of similar flood control and drainage projects implemented in that area since the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project was authorized in 1928.
The Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team's evaluation concluded that the proposed project would adversely impact the remaining natural floodplain values of the backwater area, including more than 200,000 acres of nationally significant forested wetlands and swamps that provide critically important habitat for an exceptional variety and abundance of fish and wildlife. As a result, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service team developed and recommended an innovative non-structural approach to achieve flood damage reduction while providing for ecologically and economically sustainable development of the Yazoo Backwater floodplain. For more information on the Yazoo Pumps Project, please see or contact http://yazoobackwater.fws.gov
"WMI created the Presidents Award to honor the likes of Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team Leader Charles Baxter and each member of the Team," said Wildlife Management Institute president Rollin D. Sparrowe.
"This cadre of professionals undertook an exceptional effort on behalf of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and public to prevent a serious, additional waste of public dollars and irrevocable damage to the Yazoo River Basin and its multiple resource values. The Team succeeded despite facing the momentum and misrepresentations of a multi-million dollar project, years of planning, scores of Corps experts and powerful political support. It displayed a far-sighted vision for the Basin's sound and sustainable future. Its tenacity and skill in planning, analysis, outreach and leadership succeeded not only in working with the Corps, but in uniting numerous conservationists and community members to that better vision," continued Sparrowe.
"Each member of the Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service exemplifies the dedication and high standards of professionalism among those charged with the conservation and wise stewardship of the country's natural resources. We thank and congratulate leader Charles Baxter, along with Bill Uihlein, Russ Watson, Tim Wilkins, Bruce Bell and Will McDearman the Yazoo Backwater Evaluation Team," concluded Sparrowe.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System that encompasses 531 National Wildlife Refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management offices, and 78 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 fish and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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