DU recognizes contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation

Ducks Unlimited announced today the winners of the 2013 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards during the 78th annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, held in Arlington, Va., at the Crystal Gateway Hyatt.

DU’s 2013 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards were presented in six categories and recognized individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and restoration of North America’s wetlands and waterfowl. DU Chief Conservation Officer Paul Schmidt presented the awards. This year's winners are:

•    Senior Federal Official: Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. senator from Michigan
•    Federal Agency: Dr. Byron “Ken” Williams, U.S. Geological Survey, now with The Wildlife Society
•    State/Provincial Agency: Garrett Graves, State of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority
•    Research / Technical: Dr. James D. Nichols, U.S. Geological Survey
•    Communications: John Pollmann, contributor to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader
•    Conservation / Private Citizen: Robert “Bob” Zorb

“These winners are a true testament to hard work and determination, and serve as perfect examples of people from various walks of life who have a shared passion for wetlands and waterfowl conservation,” Schmidt said. “DU is honored to recognize their work and hopes their achievements inspire others to follow suit.”

2013 Award Winners

Senior Federal Official
Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. senator from Michigan

Sen. Debbie Stabenow serves as the chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and led the Senate in passing a comprehensive, bipartisan farm bill in 2012. Of critical importance to Ducks Unlimited and wetlands and waterfowl conservation, Sen. Stabenow led development of a bill that included key provisions for the long-term conservation of wetlands and waterfowl habitat. These included a national Sodsaver program and a robustly funded easement program highlighting wetlands and grasslands conservation, which included permanent, 10-year funding and re-coupling crop insurance with conservation compliance. Of DU’s top three conservation priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill, Sen. Stabenow worked tirelessly to pass a bill that included all three. She has been an ardent supporter of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act and is leading congressional efforts to keep invasive species out of the Great Lakes. Sen. Stabenow is also a member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and has a long family and legislative history of supporting sportsmen and women.

Full release on Sen. Stabenow

Federal Employee
Dr. Byron “Ken” Williams

In his 30-plus-year career working in conservation, Dr. Byron “Ken” Williams has been a leader in advocating for science-based decision making, whether dealing with day-to-day field operations or policy development at the highest levels of natural resources management. He has also been involved with overseeing the implementation and updates of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Dr. Williams began his career in 1979 with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has held leadership positions within the research program at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and in the Division of Migratory Bird Management. He also helped established the Vermont Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and served as executive director of the North American Waterfowl and Wetlands Office. Dr. Williams has had a positive and long-lasting impact on the waterfowl management community and has always been a staunch advocate for our continent's valuable wetlands. Along the way, he has provided analytical guidance to countless biologists and managers inside and outside the government, helped develop key documents in support of hunting migratory game birds and contributed valuable input toward maintaining and improving the statistical reliability of countless monitoring programs for migratory birds.

Full release on Dr. Byron Williams

State / Provincial Agency
Garret Graves

Garret Graves is the current chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), which was established as the state agency leading protection, flood control, ecosystem restoration and other community efforts following Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to restructure and streamline Louisiana’s coastal programs and agencies resulted in increasing project output by more than 500 percent, and his organization oversees a $17 billion coastal resiliency, hurricane protection and oil spill recovery program. Graves also serves as executive assistant to the governor for coastal activities. In this role, he advises the administration on policy issues related to offshore energy, fisheries, maritime and other uses of conservation and coastal resources. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Obama appointed Garrett to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. He is also the lead trustee for the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster and directs the state’s oil spill recovery efforts. In this capacity, Garrett collaborated with BP, federal agencies and Gulf States to negotiate an unprecedented $1 billion agreement for early restoration and recovery projects in the Gulf.

Full release on Garret Graves

Research / Technical
Dr. James D. Nichols

A highly respected international expert on quantitative ecology and wildlife population management, Dr. James D. Nichols is currently a senior scientist at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, Md. Throughout his career he has worked closely with the waterfowl research and management community at all levels, from refuge managers to university professors. He has unselfishly shared his expertise to help answer some of the most difficult questions facing North America’s waterfowl resources. Dr. Nichols’ professional dedication to providing advice and assistance to waterfowl resource management has spanned nearly four decades and has influenced the thinking of not only field biologists and resource managers, but agency administrators and directors as well. Dr. Nichols has spent the last 36 years working in conservation at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey and PWRC. His down-to-earth demeanor and unique ability to communicate complex problems and solutions continue to benefit countless professionals in natural resources conservation and management. His mentoring of individuals at all levels – from high school students to postdoctoral fellows—has helped ensure a steady stream of well-qualified researchers and managers into the field of natural resources conservation.

Full release on Dr. James D. Nichols

John Pollmann

John Pollmann’s writing specialties include habitat conservation, public access, hunting heritage and agricultural policy issues affecting the Prairie Pothole Region in his home state of South Dakota. He is a regular contributor to The Argus Leader newspaper in Sioux Falls and also provides a bimonthly report for the Minnesota Outdoor News. Through his writing and radio shows, John has captivated audiences and engaged sportsmen and women on key issues influencing the future of habitat resources, wildlife populations and our hunting traditions. A 2012 recipient of the John Madson Fellowship from the Outdoor Writers Association of America, Pollmann’s stories have been published in national magazines such as Field & Stream, Ducks Unlimited and American Waterfowler. As the waterfowl columnist for Aberdeen’s American News Outdoor Forum, John has a keen interest in waterfowl hunting and conservation. His recent publications on wetland loss, native prairie conversion and farm bill policy have helped raise greater awareness and engagement among the conservation community and policy makers. John has been a true conservation champion and a voice for sportsmen on these issues.

Full release on John Pollman

Conservation / Private Citizen
Robert “Bob” Zorb

Robert “Bob” Zorb’s commitment to changing the look and landscape of his property has been monumental since kicking off his wildlife management practices in the 1960s. Born to a farming family near St. John, Washington, Zorb hunted and fished throughout his childhood, then purchased and began improving a portion of the land he’d enjoyed as a child. To date Zorb has planted approximately 150,000 shrubs and trees to his land at a success rate of about 90 percent. Outside of the well-managed riparian and wetland areas, his land is farmed using no-till and other sustainable farming practices, and helps support 12 farm families. Zorb’s land-management practices include enrolling as much land as possible in the Conservation Reserve Program and planting native trees, shrubs and grasses to thwart erosion. He vigorously controls invasive non-native vegetation and has installed drip irrigation to give plants and trees the moisture they need to survive while conserving the valuable water resource. Zorb is a highly respected member of the agricultural community and has shared his expertise with farmers in the Palouse region of the northwestern United States.

Full release on Robert Zorb

Media Contact:
Matt Coffey
(901) 758-3764