Federal wildlife officers honored for prairie work

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officers awarded for conservation easement success

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USFWS officers awarded for easement compliance efforts in Prairie Pothole Region.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – March 10, 2017 – Ducks Unlimited recognized 43 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Federal Wildlife Officers entrusted with working with private landowners to ensure provisions of wetland and grassland easements are carried out in the Prairie Pothole Region of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Iowa.

The recognition ceremony took place Friday, March 10, at the 82nd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Spokane, Washington.

Conservation easements are a crucial tool to protect natural habitat, and Ducks Unlimited has developed a successful partnership with the USFWS for securing easements.

Once easements are secured, however, their protection and compliance becomes the responsibility of federal wildlife officers. Successful enforcement relies on the officers knowing when to negotiate, mediate, stand firm and endure. Easement success requires officers to have superior communication skills when meeting with landowners. Cooperation, conciliation and mutual respect fosters positive relationships between private landowners and federal wildlife officers, which ultimately benefit people and wildlife, including millions of waterfowl in the Prairie Pothole Region.

Each year, the USFWS officers monitor and ensure compliance on about 30,000 easement contracts covering more than 3 million wetland and grassland acres in the Prairie Pothole Region. The Prairie Pothole Region is Ducks Unlimited’s highest conservation priority area.

"This partnership in the Prairie Pothole region is a prime example of meaningful conservation to assure long-term habitat for wildlife and recreational and ecosystem benefits for all," said Paul Schmidt, DU chief conservation officer. "This could not be accomplished without the dedication of the USFWS wildlife enforcement officers who are so deserving of this recognition."

Noreen Walsh, regional director for the USFWS Mountain-Prairie Region, said officers are charged with safeguarding the conservation easements for wetlands, grasslands and wildlife.

"They do this by working with landowners to provide information, troubleshoot difficulties and  resolve any health or safety situations," she said. "They demonstrate that conservation is as much about communication and collaboration as it is about science. I’m immensely proud of their dedication."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 3 officers

  • Brett Bowser, Minnesota
  • Doug Briggs, Michigan
  • Jim Graham, Minnesota
  • Rodney Hansen, Iowa
  • Mead Klavetter, Minnesota
  • Dennis Klimek, Minnesota
  • Carl Lantz, Iowa
  • Ashley Look, Minnesota
  • Charles Melvin III, Minnesota
  • Scott Pariseau, Minnesota
  • Chad Raitz, Minnesota
  • Brent Taylor, Minnesota

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Region 6 officers

  • Dave Azure, South Dakota  
  • Kathy Baer, North Dakota
  • Tyler Barriere, South Dakota
  • Jon Beyer, North Dakota
  • Mike Blessington, South Dakota
  • Todd Boonstra, Montana 
  • Matt Carman, North Dakota
  • Ben Cleghorn, North Dakota
  • Drew Ellis, South Dakota 
  • Matt Fischer, North Dakota
  • Todd Gallion, North Dakota
  • Alli Goldman, North Dakota
  • Wayne Henderson, North Dakota
  • Eric Hoggarth, South Dakota
  • Brad Johnson, South Dakota
  • Kyle Johnson, North Dakota
  • Brian Keller, South Dakota
  • Chris Kringstad, North Dakota
  • Jared Newton, North Dakota
  • Tom Pabian, North Dakota
  • Nicole Prescott, Montana
  • Clay Ronish, Montana
  • Bryan Schultz, South Dakota
  • Don Soderlund, South Dakota
  • John Takala, North Dakota
  • Matt Van Thuyne, North Dakota
  • Jared Vignes, Montana
  • Brian Vose, North Dakota
  • Scott Williams, North Dakota
  • Tom Zick, North Dakota
  • Chad Zorn, North Dakota

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Ducks Unlimited Inc. 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 13.8 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.

Media Contact:
Chris Sebastian
(734) 623-2017
csebastian@ducks.org