MEMPHIS, Tenn. – April 12, 2023 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) has announced its 2023 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards winners to individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and restoration of North America's wetlands and waterfowl.

The Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards are presented in eight categories and awarded during the 88th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in St. Louis, Missouri.

This year's winners:

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Federal Elected Official: Tom Carper, U.S. Senator, Delaware. Among many accomplishments throughout his more than 30 years serving as an elected official, Carper, as Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led the passage of several critical wetlands conservation bills, including the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the passage of the Chesapeake WILD Act and most recently the Red River Valley National Wildlife Refuge expansion bill.

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Federal Agency Employee: Tim Cooper, manager of the Texas Chenier Plain National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Cooper has repeatedly addressed management needs and future resource concerns throughout the Complex and its surrounding region. Working in partnership with others, Cooper's efforts help develop solutions, explain needs to varied audiences and secure funding and permitting for implementing the Salt Bayou Restoration Plan, a $100 million conservation project underway throughout the Complex.

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State Elected/Appointed Official: State Senator George E. "Chip" Campsen III, South Carolina. Campsen, a DU member and avid duck hunter, has represented Senate District 43 for 20 years. His areas of focus in the General Assembly include constitutional, natural resource and election law, fiscal policy, criminal justice reform, government restructuring and all matters affecting the state's coast. He serves on the state's Senate Judiciary, Rules, Transportation, Legislative Oversight and Agriculture & Natural Resources committees. His varied interests and service on all these committees are important to the people of South Carolina. Still, his leadership as chairman of the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee is essential to fulfilling the wetland conservation work of Ducks Unlimited.

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State/Provincial Agency: Mary Mertz, director, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and Kendra Wecker, chief, ODNR Division of Wildlife (DOW). Over the past four years, Mertz and Wecker have coordinated, led and implemented parts of the H2Ohio Program, resulting in improved water quality, wetland habitat and quality of life for Ohio residents. The duo increased the role of the ODNR in the Ohio Partnership Hunt, led by DU in partnership with ODNR, DOW and the Lake Erie Marsh Association for better awareness and support for the Lake Erie coastal wetland conservation. Both leaders are committed to continuing the long-standing partnership with the Fall Flights program, funding habitat conservation on Canada's breeding grounds, and supporting wetland conservation in southern Ontario.

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Research /Technical: Dr. Bruce Dugger, wildlife professor, Oregon State University. Dugger has co-authored over 80 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and technical reports. His research has addressed the challenges faced by a wide variety of wetland-dependent birds, including the management of hunted species, conservation and recovery of endangered waterbirds and environmental challenges like climate change. Most recently, he has been studying the impacts of sea level rise on tidal marshes along the Pacific Coast, an area of great importance to Ducks Unlimited.


Local/Private Conservation: Galveston Bay Foundation. Ducks Unlimited works with Galveston Bay Foundation on shoreline breakwater projects, waterbird nesting islands and beneficial dredging projects in the greater Galveston Bay. The foundation participates in everything from conservation education to land protection and habitat restoration from sub-tidal reefs to native prairie.

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Communications: Natalie Krebs, executive editor, Outdoor Life Magazine. Krebs has extensively written, edited and assigned stories about waterfowl conservation, bringing more diversity to hunting, ethical hunting and tips and tactics for aspiring duck hunters. Educating audiences about conservation is crucial to preserving our hunting heritage and protecting the landscapes needed by outdoors enthusiasts.

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Conservation Legacy: Terry Steinwand, retired director, North Dakota Game and Fish Department. As director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, Steinwand led in acquiring and protecting thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, including permanently protecting valuable wetlands and wetlands habitat. Over his 39-year career, he was active in numerous committees, including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) Joint Venture community, Devil's Lake Outlet Advisory Committee and the International Joint Commission. Steinwand was a member of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council for 15 years. He was vice-chair of the Council from 2008 to 2015 and chair from January 2016 until his retirement in 2021.

"Each year, Ducks Unlimited is proud to recognize the achievements of individuals from the United States, Canada and Mexico who have made exceptional contributions to wetlands and waterfowl conservation in North America. These partners, colleagues and leaders have contributed substantially to conserving these vital resources," DU Chief Conservation Officer Dr. Karen Waldrop said. "DU relies on a network of talented individuals to achieve our wetland and waterfowl conservation goals. The 2023 winners demonstrate how people with a shared passion for wetlands, waterfowl and wildlife can achieve great things. DU is honored to recognize their work. We are pleased to honor these inspirational efforts blazing a path for others to follow."

Media Contact:

Gregg Powers
(901) 758-3774