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DU Recognizes Contributions to Wetlands and Waterfowl Conservation

Outstanding contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation recognized
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  • DU CEO Dale Hall presents Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels with the State Elected Official award
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KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 18, 2011 – Ducks Unlimited announced today the winners of the 2011 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards at the 76th annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

DU’s 2011 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards were presented in eight categories and recognized individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the restoration and conservation of North America’s wetlands and waterfowl. DU CEO Dale Hall presented the awards. This year’s winners are: 

Category Winner
Senior Federal Official U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)
Federal Agency Kevin Brennan
State Elected Official Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN)
State/Provincial Agency Jim Sutherlin
Research/Technical Dr. Robert G. Clark
Conservation/Private Citizen Jeff, Greg and C.J. Durand
Communications David Hendee
Special Achievement Dave White

“Each award winner has contributed significantly to the conservation of North America’s waterfowl habitat,” Hall said as he presented the awards. “DU is honored to recognize their work and hopes their personal achievements inspire others to follow suit.” 

Award Winner Bios 

Senior Federal Official, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (IL)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois has been instrumental in improving water quality in the Illinois River basin. Sen. Durbin’s support during the past seven years has provided $1.2 million to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to reduce sediment and nutrient run-off in 10 Illinois River basin counties affecting nearly 2,000 acres. Much of the momentum for conservation practices in these watersheds is directly attributable to Sen. Durbin’s enthusiasm for water quality improvement. Watershed management and wetland restoration championed by Sen. Durbin helps to bring national attention to water quality issues in the Mississippi River basin that have impacts all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Sen. Durbin’s leadership on behalf of our nation’s wildlife resources doesn’t end there. He has long been the leading force behind Great Lakes restoration efforts in our nation’s capital, as well as a champion for funding for conservation programs in the Farm Bill. Additionally, he led efforts to protect native prairie by supporting Sodsaver provisions in the 2008 Farm Bill.   

Federal Agency, Kevin Brennan

Kevin Brennan

DU CEO Dale Hall presents Kevin Brennan with the Federal Agency award.

For the last 24 years of his 36-year career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently retired Kevin Brennan made exceptional long-term contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation as the District Manager of the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District in Minnesota. His deep interest in educating people about wildlife and habitat conservation motivated him to play a major role in leading the Youth Conservation Corps program. Since 1986, Brennan’s leadership of the FFWMD resulted in the improvement and protection of more than 26,000 acres of wetland and associated upland habitat in a key portion of the Prairie Pothole Region of Minnesota. He played an integral role in establishing Comprehensive Conservation Plans for the wetland management districts in Minnesota, and his championing of the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center resulted in a city-owned building that is staffed, maintained and operated by USFWS and used as an educational facility for local students. 

State Elected Official, Gov. Mitch Daniels (IN)

Under Gov. Mitch Daniels’ leadership, Indiana has made land conservation a top priority and, in the process, preserved thousands of invaluable acres across the state for future generations. A consortium led by Gov. Daniels, which included conservation organizations and local, state and federal agencies, purchased the 8,000-acre Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Management Area as part of an effort to restore it for use as a premier public birding and hunting area. Gov. Daniels recently announced the Healthy Rivers Initiative, which will secure an additional 69,000 acres of public land in the Mascatatuck and Wabash watersheds. On Gov. Daniels’ watch, Indiana initiated a cleanup of the Grand Calumet River’s west branch, committed to expanding the Conservation Reserve Program in the Wabash River watershed and protected more than 34,000 acres of sensitive habitat through the Indiana Heritage Trust program. 

State/Provincial Agency, Jim Sutherlin

Jim Sutherlin

DU CEO Dale Hall presents Jim Sutherlin with the State/Provincial Agency Award.

Jim Sutherlin has demonstrated a “big picture” outlook in his more than 20 years as a project leader for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Upper Coast Wetlands Ecosystem Project. He is responsible for oversight and management of the department’s Wildlife Division efforts involving habitat management, research and public use on five state-owned wildlife management areas totaling more than 400,000 acres. During the last three years, Sutherlin has worked with partners to successfully secure nearly $1 million in NAWCA grants to improve management capabilities on 3,450 acres of freshwater marsh at the J.D. Murphree WMA. Immediately following the devastating effects of Hurricane Ike in 2008, Sutherlin aggressively coordinated a $3.5 million effort with FEMA adjusters to develop charter documents and budgets to lead the reparation of levees and water control structures on four important coastal WMAs. 

Research/Technical, Dr. Robert G. Clark

Dr. Robert G. Clark grew up in Montreal and has turned his passion for waterfowl biology into a renowned research and teaching career in Canada. Currently the research scientist and officer-in-charge at the Prairie and Northern Wildlife Research Center of the Canadian Wildlife Service in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Dr. Clark is also an adjunct professor in the department of biology at the University of Saskatchewan. His more than 20 years of research on breeding mallards at the St. Denis National Wildlife Area have provided rich insights into mallard biology and training opportunities for many graduate students. Clark currently chairs the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture Science Team, on which he has served as a member for 20 years. Clark was an active co-founder of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Pintail Action Group and is presently involved with a multi-agency effort to develop an annual-cycle model of northern pintail population dynamics. 

Conservation/Private Citizen,
Jeff, Greg and C.J. Durand

Jeff, Greg and C.J. Durand have made conservation a family affair through their work as rice farmers on their 1,150-acre rice and crawfish farm in St. Martin Parish, La. Their efforts were recognized by the USA Rice Federation when they were awarded the Rice Award at the 2010 USA Rice Outlook Conference. The Durands are certified Master Farmers, using best practices to improve water quality, decrease soil erosion and reduce nitrogen inputs. They recently participated in the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative partnership with DU and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, enrolling more than 250 acres of their land in the program, which served to provide shallow-water habitat for wintering waterfowl, water birds and other wetland-dependent wildlife whose habitats were at risk from the Gulf Coast oil spill in 2010. The commitment of the Durands to rice farming and conservation serves as an excellent example of the compatibility of agriculture and waterfowl management.  

Communications, David Hendee

Few writers have used their platform to benefit conservation as effectively as David Hendee. An outdoor reporter for the Omaha World Herald, Hendee has consistently informed his readers about the significance of wetlands and conservation of natural resources. After taking tours of the prairies and receiving a firsthand look at North Dakota’s prime duck breeding habitat, Hendee composed a series of articles that highlighted the importance of the Prairie Pothole Region to waterfowl. In 2009, he highlighted the connection between the breeding grounds and the migratory habitats that are so prominent in Nebraska’s Rainwater Basin and the Platte River region. Hendee has also explored the rich tradition of hunting in his writing, interviewing generations of duck hunters to capture the enjoyment of the sport in his work. Hendee has also covered the Conservation Reserve Program in an effort to distribute the message about this program’s benefits to landowners and wildlife. 

Special Achievement Award, Dave White

Dave White was the driving force behind the establishment of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As chief of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, White directed NRCS to use its technical expertise and the financial assistance from existing Farm Bill programs to enhance wetlands, maximizing habitat and available food resources for the wintering waterfowl that could have potentially been impacted by the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. The program’s success has been remarkable, as NRCS has enrolled approximately 500,000 acres, investing nearly $40 million with private landowners. To measure the return on this investment, White has also established an evaluation project. Chief White did not stop there. Earlier in the year, he challenged his staff and public and private partners to prioritize enrolling farmers and ranchers in the Wetlands Reserve Program. The results have been amazing. This past year, NRCS hit a single-year enrollment record of 272,000 acres for WRP.  Prior to that, the single year record was 179,000 acres.      

Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America’s continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, 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.
 

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Lauren Oxner
901-758-3851
loxner@ducks.org
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