News Release
Southeast Region


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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award Winners

Experts from Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee Honored

May 16, 2013


A close-up of a Shagreen Snail

A Shagreen Snail

Photo: Trey Reid, Arkansas Game & Fish Commission


The story of endangered species conservation in the United States over the past 40 years involves many heroes.

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored 61 of these heroes for their outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2012 National Recovery Champions. Among the award winners were a team and a university that helped the Service remove the Magazine Mountain Shagreen, a snail only found on Magazine Mountain in Arkansas, from the Endangered Species list.

At the same time, two Service biologists from Florida were honored for their work to prevent the extinction of the rare Florida grasshopper sparrow. >

“Recovery Champion awards acknowledge individuals and groups who have excelled in their efforts to protect and recover our most imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “They exemplify the dedication and determination that has helped save countless animals and plants from extinction and that continues to raise the bar in the field of endangered species conservation.”

On May 15, 2013, the Magazine Mountain Shagreen was delisted thanks to a team of state, federal and university experts. For 13 years, the team conducted long-term population monitoring, mapped the snail’s habitat, researched the Shagreen’s life history, and implemented cooperative habitat management agreements. The team also constructed a visitor center including Shagreen exhibits and information, and the U.S. Forest Service designated Magazine Mountain as a Special Interest Area, ensuring conservation of the snail’s habitat. The team included experts from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee; the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The Shagreen is the first invertebrate ever to be removed from the endangered species list because of conservation actions resulting in the recovery of the species,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “We congratulate everyone who assisted in this conservation effort so we can celebrate this historic achievement with the members of the Magazine Mountain Shagreen Recovery Team, the communities around Magazine Mountain, and the State of Arkansas.”

“We also recognize the work of two Service biologists in Florida, Sandra Sneckenberger and Mary Peterson, who are leading a working group to save the Florida grasshopper sparrow from extinction,” Dohner continued.

Ms. Sneckenberger and Ms. Peterson both work in the Service’s South Florida Ecological Services Field Office in Vero Beach. Sandra has been working on Florida grasshopper sparrow recovery since March 2008, and Mary was recruited to work full-time on Florida grasshopper sparrow recovery in April 2012. Both biologists are strong leaders guiding the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Working Group that is spearheading recovery actions. So far, these efforts include identifying the potential causes of the sparrow’s decline, developing an emergency action plan, and seeking and securing funding for recovery actions, such as nest searches and monitoring, surveys, genetic evaluations, and captive breeding.

Researchers, land managers, and policy experts comprise the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow Working Group. Agencies involved in the group include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Avon Park Air Force Range, Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Archbold Biological Station, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tall Timbers Research Station, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation, White Oak Conservation Center, and Audubon of Florida.

The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002, as a way to recognize Service employees for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.

For information about the 2012 Recovery Champions, please visit:

America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, go to

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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit  Connect with us on Facebook at, follow our tweets at, watch our YouTube Channel at, and download photos from our Flickr page at


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Last updated: May 16, 2013