Thursday, September 24, 2009

Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies Announces 2009 Annual Award Recipients for Exemplary Commitment to Conservation Stewardship

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies honored 12 individuals and two entities for their outstanding and longstanding commitment to conservation stewardship at the Association’s Annual Awards Ceremony held on September 15, 2009 in Austin, Texas.

2009 Annual Awards Recipients:

Seth Gordon Award
Recognizing lifetime achievement, the Association’s highest honor

David Erickson
Assistant Director, Missouri Department of Conservation

David Erickson’s career spans more than 30 years and is marked by his national and international leadership, innovation, enthusiasm, dedication and adherence to the public trust responsibilities of state and federal wildlife administrators. He has been actively involved in the Association’s work, serving on more than a dozen committees, subcommittees and working groups, which ran the gamut from bird conservation and Teaming With Wildlife to hunting/shooting sports participation and wildlife resources policy.

Erickson also is an advocate for all bird management including migratory waterfowl, game and nongame birds and has been a member of three joint venture management boards, the Mississippi Flyway Council and served on the National Flyway Council strategy team to develop a national waterfowl hunters recruitment strategy. As the Chair for state agencies on the Southern Wings Task Force, Erickson was instrumental in creating a simple infrastructure for state fish and wildlife agencies to participate in the conservation of wintering habitat in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite his many commitments, Erickson took on the responsibilities of chairing the Association’s new Amphibian and Reptile Subcommittee to provide a forum for conservation and policy issues and he made it possible for 14 state agencies to receive funding from the Competitive State Wildlife Grants Program. In addition, he serves as AFWA’s advisory board member to Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (PARC) and holds a seat on the PARC Joint National Steering Committee.

The Association is proud to present David Erickson with the Seth Gordon Award in recognition of his life-long career in natural resources, dedication to professional, science-based wildlife management and leadership in achieving conservation goals.

Boone & Crockett Award
Honoring an agency and team leader for outstanding achievement in promoting and encouraging programs in outdoor ethics

Group: Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Individual: Mark Bruscino, Bear Management Officer

Human-bear conflicts have become increasingly common as the grizzly bear populations grow and expand. In response to this problem, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department developed a community-based efforts focusing on living, working and recreating safely and ethically in bear country. Called Bear Wise, the program was developed under the leadership of Mark Bruscino, Wyoming’s bear management officer. The program evolved for a citizen work group that Bruscino formed in 2006 and since then has helped significantly reduce state bear conflicts and mortalities as well as possible injuries to humans. Relying on local governments and individuals, Bear Wise programs provide specific methods for managing potential bear attractants; permanent and portable fencing to help outfitters and homeowners keep bears away from attractants; and livestock carcass removal service. Bear Wise also encourages people to appreciate and tolerate bears in their communities.

Mark J. Reeff Memorial Award
Recognizing distinguished, young wildlife management professionals

Shannon Hanna
Privately Owned Cervidae Specialist, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Division

Confronted with a number of outstanding noncompliance issues indentified in a Michigan-wide audit, Shannon Hanna took immediate steps to get privately own cervid facilities compliant, which required extensive coordination between the Wildlife Division, the Department of Agriculture Animal Industry Division and the deer-farming community. She rewrote a Memorandum of Understanding between DNR and the Agriculture Department governing the rules and regulations of Michigan deer farming. She also developed a comprehensive database on all privately owned cervid facilities that is now accessible by both agencies, saving countless hours and greatly improving the state’s efforts to contain and manage chronic wasting disease (CWD). On her own initiative, Hanna developed a web page for the privately owned cervids industry to obtain information on laws, regulations and accepted manages pertinent to CWD and established herself as a go-to personfor straight answers concerning facility deficiencies. Her expertise proved invaluable when surveillance testing in 2008 detected a positive CWD deer on a facility.

National Private Lands Fish and Wildlife Stewardship Award
Honoring an individual- or family-run farm, ranch or forest operation that has incorporated proactive conservation and environmental protection measures

Col. Wallace N. Weber of Dorrance, Kansas

A retired U.S. Army Colonel with 31 years of service, Wallace Weber is the third generation to run his family’s 1783-acre farm in Dorrance, Kansas. A lifelong sportsman and conservationist, Col. Weber assembled a Conservation Management Team with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to advise and assist him in the development of conservation practices. He is currently implementing the plan with his sister, Cheryl, and permanently dedicating the farm as a demonstration area for farming and wildlife to advance agronomy and conservation-minded rangeland management practices and as a field laboratory to test new conservation ideas as well as to promote the shooting sports, upland hunting and proper hunting ethics. To accomplish his vision, Col. Weber is donating portions of the property to Pheasant’s Forever over the next five years and he established a charitable remainder trust for management expenses upon his passing. In its entirety, the donation is expected to be valued at more than a million dollars and when completed, it will be the largest land donation in Pheasant’s Forever history.

Conservation Law Enforcement Award
Recognizing exceptional achievement is fish and wildlife resource enforcement

Brad M. Hadley
Missouri Department of Conservation

Agent Brad Hadley has employed substantive and innovative means to enforce Missouri fish and wildlife conservation laws. He’s made numerous arrests for serious violations relying heavily on his proficient technological skills using GPS, aircraft and watercraft. Hadley proactively instituted partnership and public relations programs with other agencies including Missouri Highway Patrol, local Sheriff’s department, water patrol, National Park Service and the Forest Service. As the head of a large neighborhood watch program, Hadley built a network of private citizen cooperators to provide enforcement information. His efforts to further inform and educate the public about conservation enforcement include writing newspaper articles, speaking at events and writing for the Missouri Conservationist magazine. Hadley also engaged with the state’s Youth Conservation Corps to develop a program to remove trash from conservation areas and he helped education the public about ATV regulations and trail closures.

Special Recognition Awards
Recognizing individuals who have distinguished themselves with an outstanding commitment to the work of the Association

Michael Berger
(Retired) Director of the Division of Wildlife, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)

Mike Berger has had a long and distinguished wildlife conservation career. Before he retired as the Director of Wildlife, some of his most outstanding accomplishments were the development and implementation of the state’s Wildlife Conservation Plan, the addition of more than seven million acres to the state’s approved wildlife management plans and the development of a proactive partnership with The Nature Conservancy in the conservation of key prairie chicken grassland habitats. As a very engaged co-chair of AFWA’s International Relations Committee, Berger built upon the relationships that he had developed as the U.S. Chair of the Wildlife Table of the Border Governor’s Conference, a bi-national forum to coordinate the work of U.S. and Mexican states to facilitate the Mexican states working with AFWA on North American wildlife conservation issues.

Dr. Michael Fall
Biologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

A nationally prominent research scientist and research leader, Dr. Michael Fall has been the federal liaison within the Association for the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for trapping animals. He served as the project leader for the ground-breaking research that lead to the development of BMPs and has been exceptionally effective at maintaining the federal support of the research needed to develop them. Fall also has been the federal official responsible for implementing the U.S. commitments stemming from the Agreed Minute with the European Union addressing BMPs and fur trade. As head of the U.S. delegation, he consistently has made it clear that state fish and wildlife agencies are responsible for wildlife management in the U.S., thereby protecting the interests of states and the integrity of state-based wildlife management.

Glen Salmon
(Former) Director, Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife
Deputy Assistant Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Aid (USFWS)

As soon as Glen Salmon was appointed the Director of the Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife, he became actively engaged in the work of the Association and the Midwestern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Salmon made significant contributions to furthering the states’ wildlife conservation agenda and programs as the Chair of the Fish and Wildlife Trust Funds Committee, co-Chair of the Agency/Industry Summit; working member of the National Grants and Annual Meeting Committees; and a champion for conservation education. Salmon recently accepted a position with USFWS Federal Aid.

Virgil Moore
Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game

Over the course of his 29-year career with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Virgil Moore has championed the cause for the conservation of native fish and through his advocacy and leadership has made a lasting impact on the fisheries resources of the Western United States. As President of the American Fisheries Society Administration Section, Moore played a key role in the development of the Western Trout Initiative, one of the most successful National Fish Habitat Initiative Partnerships. Similarly, his work on the Forest Service Fishing Review Panel helped support the continuation of Forest Service western fish programs. Nationally, Moore’s leadership on AFWA’s Fisheries and Water Policy Committee and the American Sportfishing Association’s Government Affairs Committee has been key on behalf of state agencies in the last two reauthorizations of the Sportfish Restoration Act.

Ken Haddad
Director, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Retiring at the end of the year after 30 years of service, Ken Haddad’s body of work as a research and natural resource administrative professional is truly substantial. He has authored or co-authored more than 35 publications in applied research and management including fisheries and fish habitat, red tide, remote sensing and geographic information systems. In the past eight years serving as the Executive Director, Haddad innovatively has set Florida’s course for the 21st century, which is serving as a model for other state agencies. He has served on AFWA’s Executive Committee and was engaged in the work of the Resource Policy and Angler Boater Participation Committees abd chaired the Leadership and Professional Development Committee to address the growing gap facing states as the baby boom generation retires. Haddad’s contributions have been a clear vision of the future with a commitment for working on the front end of issues with all stakeholders whether they be public or private partners or resource professionals.

Mark Shaffer
Director, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Environment Program

Mark Shaffer and the Doris Charitable Foundation have been tireless supporters of state wildlife action plans, contributing nearly $90 million over the past decade towards their development and implementation in order to accelerate the conservation of identified essential habitats. The Foundation also has actively encouraged other private foundations to link their conservation spending the plans.

Fallen Heroes
Remembering those wildlife professionals who lost their lives while carrying out their duties the previous year
Nathan Mims
Officer, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries

Photos by Chase Fountain, Texas Parks and Wildlife Dpeartment
Bottom row (l-r): Ken Haddad, Shannon Hanna, Dr. Michael Fall, Glen Salmon, Dave Erickson Top row (l-r): Cheryl Weber, Wallace Weber, Virgil Moore, Mark Shaffer, Mark Bruscino, Brad Hadley, Mike Berger