May 3rd, 2007 05:52 EST
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Awards Southeast Conservation Partners for Contributions
The American Bald Eagle Foundation in Sevierville, Tennessee, which operates the largest bald eagle captive breeding and exhibit facility in the world, was among 15 partners that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored today in Atlanta, Georgia. They were awarded for their outstanding contributions to wildlife and natural resource conservation.
?People from all walks of life - - foundations, government agencies, conservation organizations, and businesses - - are being honored today,? said Sam D. Hamilton, the Service?s Southeast Regional Director, who presented the awards. ?They all have one thing in common; their notable achievements on behalf of our nation?s natural resources. Today, we celebrate their accomplishments, and thank them for their continuing support.?
Southeast Regional Director?s Conservation Awards for Fiscal Year 2006 by state:
Barry Grand, U.S, Geological Survey, Auburn University facilitated the development and continued advancement of the East Gulf Coastal Plain Joint Venture, by accomplishing key administrative goals. The Joint Venture?s purpose is to oversee and coordinate bird conservation activities.
David H. Estes, Assistant United States Attorney?s Office, in Huntsville worked closely with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge Law Enforcement Officers in Decatur, to ensure that the refuge remains a safe place to visit. Estes is helping to combat drug-related crimes, American Indian artifacts theft, and illicit activity. During 2006, 30 individuals were prosecuted for illicit activity at hiking trails on the refuge. To date, combined, defendants who have been sentenced have received more than two years of jail time, 26 years of probation and ban from the refuge, one deportation, and over $8,000 in fines.
Audubon of Florida Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland is dedicated to preserving birds of prey through rehabilitation, citizen science, and environmental education. Through the Center?s EagleWatch program, more than 300 rehabilitated eagles have been banded with Fish and Wildlife Service bands and successfully released to the wild. Many of these bald eagles have nested and increased the wild population. The Center also assists the Service by caring for injured eagles and providing carcasses to the National Eagle and Wildlife Property Repository to be distributed to American Indians.
Nicholas Aumen, Ph.D., National Park Service, Everglades Program Team, A.R.M. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in Palm Beach County plays a crucial role in the protection and restoration of water quality in south Florida and the Everglades. In addition to his duties at Everglades National Park, he is an expert on the water regulation schedule and water management operations at the refuge.
Penny Cook, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tequesta Field Laboratory, conducted three years of ground-breaking research by inventorying all of the existing water-control structures and major canals to determine manatee accessibility and entrapment risk. Using her information, manatees can be excluded from areas where there is possibility of entrapment by modifying the structures with appropriate manatee exclusion devices.
Etowah Habitat Conservation Plan Development Team, River Basin Center of the Institute of Ecology of the University of Georgia, is working with local governments to develop ordinances and policies to protect and recover rare aquatic species in the Etowah River basin while allowing for continued development and economic growth in the area.
Sergeant Steve Seitz, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Blue Ridge partnered with the Service?s Office of Law Enforcement during two investigations in 2006. The first focused on the unlawful take, purchase, and sale internationally-protected plants, American ginseng and lady?s slipper orchids within and along the southern Appalachians. The second, a multi-state investigation, targeted the illegal sale and purchase of protected freshwater turtles.
Rocky Pritchert, waterfowl biologist, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources: In the last seven years, Pritchert and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources have banded an average of 1,883 wood ducks annually. This is more than twice its quota suggested by the Service and more than any other state in the Mississippi Flyway of the Southeast Region. Wood ducks are the Southeast?s most common breeding duck and the second most popular waterfowling species after the mallard.
The Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Cleanup Team, consisting of five people from agencies and businesses in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas, managed the removal of more than 12,700 hazardous materials and debris from 32,000 acres of marsh habitat at Sabine, Cameron Prairie, and Lacassine National Wildlife Refuges after the Fiscal Year 2005 hurricane season. The team members were also responsible for overseeing more than 150 personnnel and all of the specialized equipment involved in this effort.
Michael Runge, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel is responsible for several scientific breakthroughs aiding recovery efforts for the endangered Florida manatee. His contributions have ranged from helping to identify potential levels of incidental take associated with regulatory actions, to working on a comprehensive threats analysis to better assess the Florida manatee?s recovery status.
Angie Brady-Daniels and Sue Carroll, Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce in Kill Devil Hills are ?friends? and advocates of Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges in eastern North Carolina, particularly in their roles as organizers for Wings Over Water, a six-day, annual community birding festival.
In the 10 years since Wings Over Water began, the Chamber has registered more than 2,500 participants and have processed more than $150,000 in this procedure. The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce has a major impact on relationships between the two refuges and the community.
Joe Fuller, migratory bird coordinator, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, oversees the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission?s wood duck banding program which is essential to wood duck conservation in the Southeast?s portion of the Atlantic Flyway.
The American Eagle Foundation in Sevierville, Tennessee, founded in 1985, conducts projects to restore and protect eagles. The Foundation rehabilitates injured and orphaned eagles, and releases eagles into the wild. It assists the Service with rescuing and caring for injured eagles and provides charitable grants to other organizations for the protection of eagles and their habitats.
The River Engineering Team of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Memphis District, is responsible for constructing and maintaining aquatic habitat-restoration projects to benefit federally-listed species, restore fish passage, improve native fisheries habitat, and increase public recreation opportunities, without adversely impacting the Corps? Congressionally mandated flood control and navigation missions. An outstanding example of such a project is the Bend of Island 63 habitat restoration project in Coahoma County, Mississippi. A cooperative project between the Corps, the Service, the Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Parks? Fisheries Division, the project opened a dike to provide fish passage and improve habitat.
Keith Saxe, Department of Justice, provides legal advice and guidance that directs the Service?s and the Department of Interior?s efforts toward Everglades restoration and assists the Service with water quality issues at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in the northern Everglades.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses 547 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices, and 81 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.