Fish & Wildlife Service Header

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Honors 11 Partners with 2002 Southeast Regional Director’s Conservation Awards


April 23, 2003

Christine Eustis, 404.679-7287
Elsie Davis, 404/679-7107

They are a diverse group - - among them are multi-million dollar energy companies, private land-owners, an airline, state and city agencies, and two directors of foundations. However, all of the 11 honorees have one thing in common - - they all have partnered with the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to accomplish major fish and wildlife conservation goals . Today, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Service honored these individuals, companies, and agencies with Regional Director’s Conservation Awards for 2002.

“Well done,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “We are proud and grateful for our partners’ significant contributions and accomplishments. This year, we are celebrating the Centennial of our National Wildlife Refuge System. In the Southeast, the Service oversees 125 national wildlife refuges, 19 national fish hatcheries, and thousands of wetlands - - a tremendous responsibility that we could not accomplish without the help of willing environmental stewards.”

Companies receiving 2002 Regional Director’s Conservation Awards include the American Electric Power, Columbus, Ohio; the Defense and Federal Products Division of Caterpillar, Inc., Mossville, Illinois; Delta Airlines, Atlanta, Georgia; and Mobile, Alabama, Area Water and Sewer. Southern Company, Birmingham, Alabama, also was honored.

Individuals receiving 2002 Regional Director’s Conservation Awards include James Cummins, Jt., executive director of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Stoneville, Mississippi; Steve and Margaret Cunningham, dairy cattle brokers and farmers, in Manchester, Tennessee; and Dr. Sam Eichold, of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama. Also receiving conservation awards were Jutta Kuenzler, a private landowner from Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Rudy Mancke, a naturalist and the retired Director of Nature Programming for South Carolina Educational Television’s NatureScene Series; and Peter Stangel, Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia.

A list of honorees and their accomplishments follows:


  • American Electric Power: American Electric Power has been actively involved in the protection and reforestation of 18,372 acres of bottomland hardwood forest in the Bushley Bayou Unit of the Catahoula National Wildlife Refuge in Rhinehart, Louisiana. Throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley, American Electric Power has also been involved in the reforestation of hundreds of acres of marginal agricultural land through Utilitree, a consortium of utility companies.

  • Defense and Federal Products Division of Caterpillar, Inc.: Caterpillar provided heavy equipment for the removal of invasive, exotic plants and the building of freshwater ponds and wetlands at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Sebastian, Florida. Caterpillar also has been very active in helping to advertise the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Centennial.

  • Delta Air Lines: Delta featured a 90-second mini-documentary on the National Wildlife Refuge System Centennial on their inflight video program on domestic and international flights in February 2003. Delta’s In-Flight magazine also featured an article about the National Wildlife Refuge System in its February 2003 issue.

  • Mobile, Alabama Area Water and Sewer: Mobile Area Water and Sewer was instrumental in creating a 222-acre conservation bank for the gopher tortoise, federally listed as a threatened species. The establishment of this special area also conserves the tortoise’s longleaf pine habitat, and helps the eastern indigo snake, another federally-listed, threatened species.

  • Southern Company: Southern Company has launched a new bird conservation initiative, The Power of Flight, that will result in more than $1 million in on-the-ground habitat conservation and education programs for birds in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.


  • James Cummins, Jr.: As Executive Director of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, James Cummins has been responsible for authoring federal conservation legislation, such as the USDA Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program that was funded at $700 million in 2002. Mr. Cummins is also involved in several natural resources conservation partnerships for Mississippi.

  • Steve and Margaret Cunningham: These private landowners in south-central Tennessee were among the first to work with the Service to protect and restore habitat for the Barrens topminnow, one of the rarest fish in the world.

  • Dr. Sam Eichold: Dr. Eichold, as owner of Sturdy Oak Farms in Escambia, Alabama, is restoring wetlands and the former longleaf pine ecosystem on his 650-acre farm.

  • Jutta Kuenzler: As a private landowner of a 154-acre farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Mrs. Kuenzler is preserving and restoring wildlife habitat and wetlands on her land, including the restoration of a small degraded wetland near Collins Creek, a tributary to the Cape Fear River. Mrs. Kuenzler and her family also hosted two conservation field days to demonstrate how their efforts might be successful for others.

  • Rudy Mancke: Rudy Mancke is a naturalist and the retired Director of Nature Programming for the South Carolina Educational Television NatureScene series. The NatureScene series is carried nationally over 85 PBS stations. Mr. Manacke produced a NatureScene Retrospective video of the National Wildlife Refuge System for the Centennial. He also has given lectures and led nature walks at South Carolina Refuges. At Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in Awendaw, his tours helped the Sewee Association raise about $30,000 for educational programs through the years.

  • Peter Stangel: As Director of the Southern Region of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Peter Stangel has been responsible for developing numerous corporate partnerships that have helped the Service develop and accomplish its conservation goals. Many of the Service’s major projects, such as the whooping crane migration program and a conservation effort for southeastern imperiled fisheries, have received critical support thanks to these partners.

Hamilton also presented Regional Director’s Honor Awards to 21 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and recognized five volunteers.

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 94-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 541 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource 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 fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at or

NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at Our national home page is at:

Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

| Home | Privacy Information | Site Map | Contact Site Administration | Got Fish & Wildlife Questions?