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Ducks Unlimited Canada unveils tribute to North American conservation leadership

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First inductee is "true friend of the ducks"

OAK HAMMOCK MARSH, Manitoba – Sept. 30, 2009 – With waterfowl migration at Oak Hammock Marsh as the picture-perfect backdrop, Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) officially unveiled the North American Waterfowl Conservation Honour Roll and recognized Gary Myers, former executive director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, as the first inductee.

Established by DUC, the Honour Roll is a national recognition program for individuals who have made unique and significant contributions to the success of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) in Canada. According to DUC Chief Executive Officer Jeff Nelson, "Gary Myers is a wildlife professional who truly embodies the qualities and values of a true continental leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation and in fact Gary was the inspiration and impetus for DUC to establish this Honour Roll."

Myers has a sphere of influence that extends throughout Tennessee, spans the nation, and crosses the border. In Tennessee, Myers helped set aside thousands upon thousands of acres of critical habitat. He has left a similar legacy of conservation in Canada, thanks to his early and proactive efforts via NAWMP.

In 1986, shortly after the Plan agreement was signed, and three years before the North American Wetland Council Act (NAWCA) was passed by U.S. Congress, Myers was the catalyst behind the formation of a private-public partnership consisting of state agencies, Ducks Unlimited and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to raise money through a matching process to fund habitat projects in Canada.

Thanks to Myers's efforts, six million dollars was directed toward Canada's "First Step" projects: wetland and upland projects in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The "First Step" led to a "Second Step" and a "Third Step," filling the financial void until NAWCA was passed by Congress in late 1989.

Today, hundreds of NAWCA-funded projects dot the Canadian landscape, providing safe breeding and staging habitat for many waterfowl species, particularly those that rely on the prairies.

As one of the architects of NAWMP, Myers also brought his collaborative and persuasive experience to the table for the formation of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). He recognized the broader value of an integrated, science-based approach to advance bird conservation, bringing conservationists, legislators, wildlife managers and biologists together in a co-operative network dedicated to benefit all species of birds.

Myers joined Nelson and Greg Wathen, Chief of Wildlife, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to unveil two bronze plaques on the roof of the Oak Hammock Marsh Conservation Centre as Myers's family, special guests and visitors looked on. An emotional Myers was humbled by day's many accolades and gave credit to others equally devoted to the cause of waterfowl conservation, people "who overcame obstacles to make NAWMP a success." He added that he believes NAWMP is the "blueprint for bigger and better things that can be applied to other wildlife" and that in time, it will "help us understand how to deal with conservation issues like impacts of climate change through the lessons we've learned over the years."

"Thanks to Gary Myers, fundamental strategies are in place to guide waterfowl and bird conservation well into the future," Nelson said. "Gary's commitment to waterfowl and the success of the North American Plan can be defined as a true 'Friend of the Ducks'."

"It's very fitting that we should be paying tribute to Gary at Oak Hammock – an internationally recognized stopover for hundreds of thousands of migratory waterfowl. It's also a place for people to connect with a resource that Gary has been instrumental in conserving for this and future generations."

Myers, watching flocks of geese and ducks on the marsh and in the sky, said he was "proud of the geese for showing up" on his special day. "This is what it's all about."

Duncan Morrison
Corporate Media Relations Specialist
Ducks Unlimited Canada
204.467.3202
d_morrison@ducks.ca

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