More than 75 friends and family of Louisiana conservationist Tom Hess gathered at Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge this past October to dedicate a wetland restoration project in his honor. Ducks Unlimited and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) partnered to enhance 6,800 acres of coastal marsh on this state refuge in southwest Louisiana.
"It is with great memories of Tom that we dedicate this work to improve management of Price Lake Marsh," said DU Director of Operations Tom Moorman, who worked with Hess on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. "Tom was a great friend and colleague who took me under his wing and taught me so much about the Louisiana marsh. He called Rockefeller the center of the duck universe, and we all want to keep it that way."
Hess, who passed away in 2014, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, where he learned to hunt and fish and developed his passion for the outdoors. He was hired in 1972 as a biologist assistant for Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge. This role gave him an opportunity to work with bald eagles and brown pelicans and to be part of the reintroduction of whooping cranes to southwest Louisiana, but his main passion was ducks. He concluded his career as refuge program manager.
The $1.4 million project dedicated in Hess's honor restored water-management capabilities on the Price Lake unit of Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and expanded the fishing pier for better public access. This project was completed as part of DU's Gulf Coast Initiative. Funding partners include LDWF, Chevron U.S.A., and the Stuller Family Foundation.