Jack Rabbit, Texas-Photo Credit Chase Fountain

Burrowing Owl, Nevada - Photo Credit Tim Torrell

Eyed Trout Eggs, Tonto Creek Hatchery AZ - Photo Credit George Andrejko

Humpback Whales, Orca, Alaska - Photo Credit Sandstrom, Riley Woodford

 
 
 

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WAFWA Honors Career Achievements of Western Conservation Professionals

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is honoring conservation professionals from several western states with awards lauding their work to conserve fish and wildlife resources.

Tod Stevenson from New Mexico is being honored with WAFWA’s most prestigious award, the Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Stevenson’s tenure with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish spanned more than 30 years in various capacities. He started his career working in a fish hatchery in 1977 before becoming a game warden in 1981. He rose through the ranks to become the agency’s director before retiring in 2011. Throughout his career, Stevenson championed a scientific approach to wildlife management, inspiring his colleagues and leaving a legacy for current leadership. The award is named for Phillip W. Schneider of Oregon whose legendary commitment to fish and wildlife resources spanned more than 40 years in a career in which he served as director of the state’s game and fish agency, and later as a commissioner and commissioner emeritus of Oregon’s Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Colorado Wildlife Officer Nate Martinez is being honored for his bravery with the Pogue-Elms Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. Martinez is credited with saving the life of a sheriff’s deputy in northwest Colorado in 2015 after a harrowing altercation in which he wrested a gun from an armed suspect who was preparing to shoot both him and the deputy. Without his heroic action, both the deputy and Martinez would likely have been killed. Wildlife officers and game wardens across the country are commissioned peace officers and are often called upon to back up local law enforcement. The award honors Idaho Fish and Game officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, who were killed in January 1981 while trying to arrest a poacher in a remote region of southwestern Idaho. 

Bill Bates from Utah and Clay Brewer from Texas have each been honored with the Professional of the Year Award. Bates began his career with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in 1977 as a seasonal employee, and became a full-time biologist in 1982. He has served in numerous roles in his career, most recently as wildlife section chief. His commitment to building partnerships to benefit conservation has been apparent throughout his career. He is also lauded for his leadership efforts among WAFWA wildlife chiefs and his mentoring of his colleagues. His co-workers say that he has had a huge positive influence on the next generation of Utah wildlife professionals.

WAFWA’s Wild Sheep Coordinator and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employee Clay Brewer is also being honored with the Professional of the Year Award. Brewer’s career spans three decades of natural resource contributions across Texas and the western states. During his TPWD career he has served in various roles in the wildlife division, including as a wildlife division regional director and acting wildlife division director. He became WAFWA’s Wild Sheep Working Group Chair in 2011 and has furthered conservation goals of wild sheep throughout the West on numerous fronts.

WAFWA is proud to honor the conservation efforts of federal partners with the Federal Conservation Partner of the Year Award. This is the first time this award has been conferred and the inaugural recipient is Kathi Stopher with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As visitor services manager at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Stopher has partnered with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources on an innovative educational partnership that has helped more than 10,000 students explore the habits and habitats of Utah wildlife. 

The awards were announced on July 25 at WAFWA’s annual summer conference, held this year in Cody, Wyoming. The conference was hosted by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Other awards conferred included the President's Award, which is shared this year by Jeff Gould (ID), Ken McDonald (MT), and Brian Nesvik (WY) for their work on de-listing the Yellowstone grizzly bear under the Endangered Species Act. The Commission of the Year Award went to the Nevada Board of Wildlife Commissioners for their commitment to science-based wildlife management, especially on controversial issues.  The WAFWA Contributor of the Year Award went to Jim Heffelfinger (AZ) and Lance Cherry (NM) for their respective career achievements. The Special Achievement Award went to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks' Wildlife Action Plan Website Tool Development Team. WAFWA also conferred lifetime membership awards to six individuals for their career accomplishments and service to the organization: Clay Brewer (TX), Lisa Hadway (HI), Richard Hatcher (OK), Robert Mansell (AZ), Will Naillon (ID), and Lyle Lyle Saigeon of Saskatchewan.

WAFWA news releases available at http://www.wafwa.org/news/

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 23 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.   

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Media Contact: 
Larry Kruckenberg, 307.631.4536
larry.kruckenberg@wafwa.org

Photo Credit Bill Harvey, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (c)

Posted by WAFWA at 7/26/2016 3:00:00 PM
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