Three receive high honors

Three receive high honors

During the 71st North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, last month in Columbus, Ohio, a wildlife working group, a fish and wildlife agency director and a wildlife conservation board were accorded the highest honors of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). The California Wildlife Conservation Board received WMI's 2006 Presidents Award. Duane Shroufe was given the 2006 Distinguished Service Award. And the Mule Deer Working Group of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies received WMI's 2006 Touchstone Award.

The Presidents Award honors an agency or agency faction for ingenuity, initiative and accomplishments within the past several years and which has significantly advanced professional management of natural resources in North America. The California Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) received recognition for its determined efforts and leadership to protect hundreds of thousands of acres in the Golden State.

The WCB was established nearly 60 years ago to administer a capital outlay program for wildlife habitat protection. Its principal goal is to select and acquire selected wildlife habitat and develop public access facilities. Since 2001, the WCB has worked with more than 275 partners who have contributed more than $1 billon towards the conservation of California's wildlife and diverse habitats. The endeavors have increased wetland acreage in the Central Valley by more than 70,000 acres, protected 63,000 acres of San Francisco Bay wetlands, and restored 61,850 acres of the bay's wetlands and riparian habitats since 1990. In the past five years, these projects have protected 300,000 acres of rangelands and oak woodlands, 90,000 acres of forest lands, 23,000 acres of vernal pools and 9,000 acres of riparian habitat.

"Much of the Wildlife Conservation Board's work has involved public and private partnerships," said Steven A. Williams, WMI president. "Since 2000, the WCB has leveraged and invested millions of dollars for the purchase and restoration of thousands of acres. Such collaborative efforts are good for the state, its citizens and natural resources. We chose to honor the California WCB because of the foresight of the Board and the dedication, determination and accomplishments of its staff."

Al Wright, Executive Director of the WCB, accepted the award on behalf of the Board and staff.

The WMI Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary and enduring, but largely unsung contributions to conservation of natural resources in North America. Duane L. Shroufe, Director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, was accorded the honor for 2006.

WMI President Steve Williams stated that Duane's contributions to the continents wildlife and habitats have been numerous and far-reaching. "Initiatives as diverse as jaguar conservation in Mexico, wetland protection in Canada and advocacy for state agency excellence have benefited from his leadership."

Shroufe, who began his career with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, came to the Arizona Game and Fish Department in 1989. "In the leadership role Duane assumed, his contributions to the stability and progressiveness of his agency and his professional conservation agenda are truly too numerous to list," Williams noted. However, highlights of Shroufe's accomplishments include:
o Establishment of Arizona=s Heritage Fund in 1990 to support projects to enhance and protect wildlife and habitats.
o Advancement of collaborative initiatives to aid in the recovery of Arizona's endangered species.
o Chairmanship of the North American Wetlands Conservation Council, which serves as the national coordinating committee for international wetlands conservation.
o Critical leadership in the Teaming with Wildlife Initiative, which for more than a decade, has led efforts to increase funding for wildlife diversity conservation to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered.
o Partnerships with wildlife concerns in Mexico, including the Sonoran Joint Venture, the first international effort of its kind to conserve habitats that benefits all birds in a region.
o Consistent leadership to improve customer service and wildlife conservation policies, programs and practices at the agency level.

Shroufe has received numerous special recognitions, including those from the National Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, USDA Forest Service, American Fisheries Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Governor of Sonora, Mexico, for service and contributions advancing science-based wildlife management.AEach of those commendations is testimony to our recipient's long and unstinting history of distinguished service in the advancement of science-based conservation,@ said Williams. "WMI is pleased to add its testimony to the remarkable and continuing career of Duane L. Shroufe."

WMI's Touchstone Award recognizes individuals, groups, organizations or agencies whose ingenuity and initiative in recent years have notably advanced sound natural resource management and conservation in North America. The Mule Deer Working Group of the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) was accorded the honor for 2006, for its work to improve the status and management of mule deer populations.

Founded in 1997, the Mule Deer Working Group consists of representatives from the WAFWA, a quasi-governmental organization of 23 agencies charged with the conservation and management of wildlife resources in the western United States and Canada. The Working Group's goals are to develop strategies to reverse the trend of declining mule deer populations, to improve communication among mule deer biologists and to provide a forum to supply the information needs of agency administrators.

The Working Group has notably aided mule deer management in recent years through development of: the North American Mule Deer Conservation Plan; a mule deer information website; the technical book, Mule Deer Conservation: Issues and Management Strategies; and a popularized version of the book, to help nonbiologists understand mule deer management issues. The Working Group also produced an interactive GIS map of North America=s mule deer habitat, to help biologists manage the species on a landscape scale. And perhaps the most impressive achievement is an ongoing effort to create a set of habitat guidelines for the seven ecoregions encompassing mule deer home range.

"These accomplishments have dramatically helped all people involved in mule deer management," said Steven Williams, WMI president. "Agency administrators now have excellent tools to respond to the public's desire to understand mule deer management issues, and biologists have more information to make solid management decisions concerning the species. The energy, creativity, dedication and excellent work of the Mule Deer Working Group reflect the highest standard of cooperative conservation professionalism."

Jim DeVos of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, and chair of the Mule Deer Working Group, accepted the award on behalf of the group members and the western states and provinces they represent.

April 14, 2006