At his final Central Flyway Council meeting last week, Ducks Unlimited (DU) senior regional biologist Rick Warhurst received the International Canvasback Award from the North American Waterfowl Management Plan Committee (NAWMPC). The award is granted each year to an exceptional individual, corporation or organization that has made a minimum ten years' commitment to implementing and continuing the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Warhurst is retiring from DU in December.
"I was surprised but honored to receive the award," Warhurst said. "It was pretty humbling."
The NAWMP was signed by the U.S. and Canada in 1986, with Mexico signing in 1994. The plan lays out a framework for how North American waterfowl populations could be brought back from the record lows of the ‘80s and sustained in the future.
Warhurst has worked in waterfowl habitat conservation for decades, with over 30 years at DU alone. Of his 11 years as part the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture Management Board, he has served seven as chairman. He was one of five original members of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture Management Board and also served on the Prairie Pothole Joint Venture Technical Committee. He has helped deliver waterfowl habitat in most states of the Northern Great Plains. He says, however, it is likely his past 17 years as chair of the Central Flyway Habitat Committee that led to his nomination for the award.
"We helped the Central Flyway Technical Committee and Council address habitat issues, and we supported and made recommendations about legislative bills concerning wildlife conservation," Warhurst said.
The award was presented by Tony Leif, who is the wildlife division director of South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and the Central Flyway Council representative on the NAWMPC.
After his retirement from DU, Warhurst plans to work part-time for the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust as a North American Wetlands Conservation Act Council staff representative for the Central Flyway.