Ducks Unlimited (DU) honored Dave Harlan, a wildlife specialist with the Ottawa Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), as Ducks Unlimited Conservation Partner of the Year on Feb. 27, during Harlan’s retirement open house in Oak Harbor. Each year this award is presented to a natural resource professional that has made substantial contributions to the conservation of waterfowl and wetland resources in Ohio.
“Dave has been a steadfast partner to Ducks Unlimited, providing outstanding technical expertise and guidance for DU’s conservation programs and promoting an overall spirit of camaraderie and partnership within the conservation community,” said DU Regional Biologist Heather Braun, who presented the award.
In his nearly 30 years with the Ottawa SWCD, Harlan was involved in more than 200 conservation projects that enhanced, protected or restored more than 10,000 acres of wetland habitat.
“Dave’s ability to meet the needs of both landowners and wildlife has left an incredible legacy on the land,” said Braun. “I’ve learned a lot from Dave and I feel privileged to have worked with him and to call him my friend.”
Harlan also helped start the Erie/Ottawa/Sandusky chapter of Pheasants Forever in 1991 and is currently the chapter’s habitat chairman. The chapter has raised more than $350,000 to purchase equipment and provide funding to plant more than 4,000 acres of mixed prairie grasses that provide habitat for both pheasants and nesting waterfowl.
His knowledge of conservation programs and his rapport with the people that run them is a huge asset to landowners and partners. Harlan has been dubbed “The Conduit” because just one phone call to him will lead directly to the right person or organization to get the job done.
Harlan grew up hunting and fishing with his father and developed a love for wetlands and wild places at an early age. His job with the Ottawa SWCD provided him the satisfaction of knowing he’s made a positive impact on the landscape and on the lives of the landowners with whom he worked. But Harlan’s retirement from public service is merely a turning point in his impassioned efforts to conserve wetlands—his next career will still see him tromping through marshes, this time as a land appraiser specializing in wetland valuations.
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization, with almost 12 million acres conserved. The United States has lost more than half of its original wetlands—nature’s most productive ecosystem—and continues to lose more than 80,000 acres each year.
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