Thirty-three year DU member Eddie Bridges was announced Field & Stream's 2012 Hero of Conservation.
He founded the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation, an all volunteer non-profit organization. Eddie enlisted area volunteers and raised $1 million for local projects that range from waterfowl impoundments to a creating a wildlife education center for school children.
"Eddie Bridges has been a friend to wildlife, a mentor to youth and an inspiration to scores of wildlife volunteers. Now, that's a mighty long list of accomplishments, but there's room for one more. Eddie Bridges is a hero of conservation," said Eddie Nickens, editor at large of Field & Stream.
WASHINGTON – Oct. 2, 2012 – Two Field & Stream Heroes of Conservation nominees have more than their passion for wildlife in common; Eddie Bridges and Cliff Brown have both been Ducks Unlimited members for decades.
Field & Stream’s Heroes of Conservation program recognizes sportsmen and women active in conservation. Nominees can be submitted by anyone. Field & Stream then publishes nominees throughout the year and chooses six finalists for consideration.
“Heroes of Conservation awards recognize true sportsmen who are not only working to conserve land and wildlife, but are also inspiring those around them to do the same,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “These two men epitomize that spirit. Eddie Bridges has inspired his community to build an education center that teaches our young people the importance of the outdoors, and he also started an organization that helps underfunded habitat preservation programs. Cliff Brown saw that wood duck nesting sites were in disrepair and began spending his own time and money to maintain them. He went on to found a restoration group that has assisted in tripling the number of wood ducks hatched in Maryland since 2004.”
Field & Stream will announce the grand prize winner on Thursday, Oct. 4 in Washington, D.C., who will receive a new Toyota Tundra. Each finalist will also receive $5,000.
Eddie Bridges, 33-year DU member (Greensboro, N.C.)
After years of volunteer public service for conservation, he proposed and helped develop the North Carolina waterfowl stamp program that has generated more than $5 million. Bridges founded the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Fund in 1994. “We have no paid staff. We’re here because the work is so gratifying,” said Bridges, 78. The organization’s goal is to supplement underfunded state-run land acquisition and habitat preservation programs. They have already put $1 million toward local projects, including underwriting costs to keep a wildlife education center open to 3,000 monthly visitors.
Cliff Brown, 29-year DU member (Rock Hall, Md.)
When Brown noticed wood-duck boxes in need of repair while on a public tour of DuPont’s Chesapeake Farms in late 2004, he offered to rehab the nesting structures. The Maryland DNR learned about the project and offered Brown duck-stamp funds to finance the restoration of boxes at other sites, inspiring him to launch the Maryland Wood Duck Initiative. “There was so much established habitat in need of TLC,” said Brown. “We needed to develop a network of people willing to help.” They now manage 75 nesting sites, encompassing 1,900 boxes, where they have counted more than 25,000 ducklings since 2005.
All of the Heroes of Conservation nominees can be found at www.fieldandstream.com/heroes.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page atfacebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.