The 2023 Wetlands Conservation Achievement Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the conservation and restoration of North American wetlands and waterfowl.
Ducks Unlimited (DU) has announced the winners of the 2023 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and restoration of North American wetlands and waterfowl.
The Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards are presented in eight categories and are presented during the 88th North American Conference on Natural Resources and Wildlife in St. Louis, Missouri.
This year’s winners:
Federal Elected Official: Tom Carper, US Senator, Delaware. Among many accomplishments throughout his more than 30 years as an elected official, Carper, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, led the passage of several bills critical to wetland conservation, 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.
Federal Agency Employee: Tim Cooper, Manager, Chenier Plain Texas National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Cooper has repeatedly addressed management needs and concerns about future resources throughout the Complex and the surrounding region. Working in partnership with others, Cooper’s efforts help develop solutions, explain needs to diverse audiences, and obtain funding and permits to implement the Salt Bayou Restoration Plan, an ongoing $100 million resort-wide conservation project.
State Elected/Appointed Official: State Senator George E. “Chip” Campsen III, South Carolina. A DU member and avid duck hunter, Campsen has represented Senate District 43 for 20 years. His focus areas in the General Assembly include constitutional, natural resource and election law, fiscal policy, criminal justice reform, government restructuring and all issues affecting the state’s coastline. He is a member of the state Senate committees on Judiciary, Rules, Transportation, Legislative Oversight, and Agriculture and Natural Resources. His varied interests and service on all of 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 accomplishing Ducks Unlimited’s wetlands conservation work.
State/Provincial Agency: Mary Mertz, Director, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), and Kendra Wecker, Chief, ODNR Division of Wildlife (DOW). For the past four years, Mertz and Wecker have coordinated, directed, and implemented portions of the H2Ohio Program, resulting in improved water quality, wetland habitat, and quality of life for Ohioans. The duo increased ODNR’s role in the Ohio Partnership Hunt, led by DU in partnership with ODNR, DOW and the Lake Erie Wetlands Association to better raise awareness and support for the conservation of Lake Erie’s coastal wetlands. Both leaders are committed to continuing the longstanding partnership with the Fall Flights program, funding habitat conservation in Canada’s breeding grounds and supporting wetland conservation in southern Ontario.
Research/Technical: Dr. Bruce Dugger, Professor of Wildlife, Oregon State University. Dugger is the coauthor of more than 80 peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and technical reports. His research has addressed the challenges facing a wide variety of wetland-dependent birds, including the management of hunted species, the conservation and recovery of endangered waterfowl, and environmental challenges such as climate change. More recently, he has been studying the impacts of sea level rise on salt marshes along the Pacific coast, an area of great importance to Ducks Unlimited.
Local/Private Conservancy: Galveston Bay Foundation. Ducks Unlimited works with the Galveston Bay Foundation on coastal breakwater projects, waterfowl nesting islands, and beneficial dredging projects in the greater Galveston Bay. The foundation is involved in everything from conservation education to land protection and habitat restoration, from subtidal reefs to native grasslands.
Communications: Natalie Krebs, executive editor, Outdoor life magazine. Krebs has extensively written, edited, and assigned stories on waterfowl conservation, bringing more diversity to hunting, ethical hunting, and tips and tactics for aspiring duck hunters. Educating the public about conservation is crucial to preserving our hunting heritage and protecting the landscapes needed by outdoor enthusiasts.
Conservation Legacy: Terry Steinwand, Retired Director, North Dakota Department of Game and Fish. As director of the North Dakota Department of Fish and Game, Steinwand led the acquisition and protection of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, including the permanent protection of valuable wetlands and wetland habitat. During his 39-year career, he was active on numerous committees, including the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) Joint Venture Community, the 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 president of the Council from 2008 to 2015 and president from January 2016 until his retirement in 2021.
“Each year, Ducks Unlimited is proud to recognize the accomplishments of individuals from the United States, Canada and Mexico who have made exceptional contributions to North American wetland and waterfowl conservation. These partners, colleagues and leaders have contributed substantially to the conservation of these vital resources,” said Dr. Karen Waldrop, DU’s Director of Conservation. “DU relies on a network of talented individuals to achieve our wetland and waterfowl conservation goals. The 2023 winners demonstrate how great things can be achieved by people with a shared passion for wetlands, waterfowl and wildlife. DU is honored to recognize your work. We are pleased to honor these inspiring efforts that blaze a path for others to follow.”
Click here for a list of past winners.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world‘North America’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving vanishing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 15 million acres thanks to the contributions of more than one million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of enough wetlands to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow, and forever. For more information about our work, visit www.patos.org.