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Fish and Wildlife Employees and Partners Receive Interior Department Awards


September 4, 2002

Nicholas Throckmorton, (202) 208-5636 --
Tom MacKenzie, (404) 679-7291 --


Interior Secretary Gale Norton today gave Departmental Honor Awards to three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and three partners-in-mission for career accomplishments and exceptional support of the Department's mission.

"From Alaska to Mississippi, these dedicated Fish and Wildlife Service employees have committed themselves to the conservation of our Nation's fish and wildlife throughout their careers," said Norton. "They have earned the Distinguished Service Award, and the gratitude of all of us who have benefitted from their hard work to ensure both the current and future generations enjoy our wild creatures and wild places."

"I am also pleased to recognize private citizens and organizations who have contributed to the mission of the Fish and Wildlife Service," she said. "The success of our conservation work depends on the contributions of our partners. They exemplify what I call the Four C's – communication, consultation, and cooperation, all in the service of conservation."

Distinguished Service Award for Service employees; --
  • S. Ray Aycock, Jr.'s for his work with partners to recover bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley,
  • James G. King for his work with Alaska's birds and wildlife survey techniques, and
  • Carl R. Madsen for his work in creating the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.

The Conservation Service Award for Private Partners goes to;

  • Helen Hays for protecting the largest colony of roseate terns in the Western Hemisphere on Great Gull Island,
  • International Paper for its work with endangered species and habitat restorations, and the
  • Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission for its work to reestablish annual runs of Atlantic salmon and American shad in the Connecticut River.

The Distinguished Service Award is given to employees who stand out for their contribution to science, skill in the performance of duty or contribution to public service. The Conservation Service Award is given to private citizens and groups for contributions toward the cause of conservation and the mission of the Department. These two awards, given at today's 61st Departmental Honor Awards Convocation, are the highest honor the Interior Department can bestow on employees and private citizens.

In S. Ray Aycock, Jr.'s 33-year career with the Service, he pursued the recovery of bottomland hardwood forests in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. He coordinated a partnership between Illinova Generating Company and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that reforested more than 100,000 acres in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Currently, 40,000 trees have been planted. His success served as a catalyst which led to an agreement with American Electric Power and Texaco to purchase and plant 12,000 acres at a cost of $8.4 million to be added to the National Wildlife Refuge System. He helped create the Lower Delta Partnership to assist in the restoration and revitalization of Mississippi's environmentally degraded and economically impoverished Lower Delta.

James G. King has worked for 50 years in wildlife conservation. He began with the Service in Alaska as a U.S. Game Enforcement Agent, then the first Refuge Manager of what's now Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge and later as Supervisor for Waterfowl Investigations in Alaska. He logged more than 6,000 hours of aerial surveys and produced more than 60 scientific publications and articles on Alaska's birds and wildlife survey techniques. They became the basis for Service regulations, management and conservation policies. He produced an innovative plot sampling scheme to measure bald eagle populations of southeast Alaska, which is still used. He began trumpeter swan investigations that led to their removal from the threatened wildlife list. Mr. King remains an active participant in numerous surveys throughout Alaska, providing his expertise and experience for Service pilots on safety and efficient flying for waterfowl surveys.

Carl R. Madsen's role in the Service's private land habitat restoration work began in 1978 when he developed and implemented the Service's first pilot partners program, the Mid-Continent Waterfowl Management Project. This project helped build successful partnerships between wildlife interests and family farmers. This served as the foundation for the Service's nationally acclaimed Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. He was instrumental in the development of three conservation ventures: Pioneer Heritage Conservation Trust, the Wildlife Management Agreement, and the partnership with Successful Farming Magazine and Ducks Unlimited on the "Farming in the Flyways." His work has also expanded the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to include the National Association of Conservation Districts. This established thousands of districts as participants in wetland conservation plans nationwide.

Helen Hays has supported the Endangered Roseate Tern Recovery Plan by protecting the largest colony of roseate terns in the Western Hemisphere on Great Gull Island. As director of the Great Gull Island Project since 1969, she raised funds and organized volunteers to protect one of the largest nesting populations of colonial birds in the Northeastern U.S. She has spent every summer on the island working with staff and volunteers to protect more than10,000 common terns and 1,700 federally endangered roseate terns. The Great Gull Island Project has provided opportunities for training and field experience for hundreds of students.

International Paper is an active participant in the Service's Habitat Conservation Plan and Safe Harbor Agreement programs for species like the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and the threatened Red Hills salamander. The company protects more than 20 percent of the remaining Red Hills salamander habitat and has established the first mitigation bank for red-cockaded woodpeckers. It provided a land donation of 49,000 acres which became the core of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. International Paper also played a key part in efforts to restore longleaf pine habitat for the Louisiana pine snake's last remaining habitat. The company helped develop a program with the Service to bring together interested professionals to focus on endangered species management on private lands and helps teach at the Service's National Conservation Training Center about working cooperatively with private landowners.

The Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Commission has worked with the Service since 1967 to help reestablish annual runs of Atlantic salmon and American shad in the Connecticut River. As a result of the Commission's efforts, in 1994 the first recorded Atlantic salmon spawning in more than a century occurred in the Connecticut River. Many basin-wide fisheries and watershed efforts have been inspired by the Commission's resource-related progress in the basin. The Commission's collaboration with many public and non-government partners led to increased public participation in river restoration efforts. Volunteers spent nearly 5,200 hours stocking young salmon and monitoring fish passage facilities.

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