The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) today announced recipients of the 2011 Recovery Champion award, which honors Service employees and partners for outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. A total of 56 teams and nine individuals were honored as Recovery Champions for work to conserve species ranging from the polar bear in Alaska to the Appalachian elktoe mussel and spotfin chub in North Carolina.
“Recovery Champions are helping listed species get to the point at which they are secure in the wild and no longer need Endangered Species Act protection,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “These groups and individuals have done amazing work in helping to bring dozens of species back from the brink of extinction, while improving habitat that benefits many other species and local communities.”
From the bull trout in Washington, Oregon, and Montana to the red-cockaded woodpecker in Florida, Alabama and Texas, Recovery Champions are taking action to benefit these species. Service employees and partners, including federal and state conservation agencies, tribes, universities, conservation organizations, private landowners, and zoos and botanic gardens, are making a difference through activities such as removing dams so that anadromous fish can reach their spawning grounds, restoring longleaf pine forests in the Southeast, and reintroducing an endangered bird species into its historical range.
For example, the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) is being recognized for its work in endangered species recovery programs over several decades.
Numerous species across multiple states have greatly benefitted from TESF’s continued support over the years and are on the road to recovery thanks in large part to these efforts, such as the black-footed ferret, red-cockaded woodpecker, Chiricahua leopard frog and Northern Aplomado falcon.
Notably, the TESF has been active and supportive in gray wolf recovery in the United States, both in the Northern Rocky Mountains and in the Southwest. Since 1997, the Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility, located on R.E. Turner’s Ladder Ranch in south-central New Mexico and operated by TESF is one of the program’s three primary captive pre-release facilities and has been instrumental in housing and selectively breeding Mexican wolves for release to the wild.
Also this year, National Wildlife Refuges from Maine through Virginia are being honored for conserving more than 250 breeding pairs of piping plovers on refuge, state, municipal and private lands.
In the West, the Colorado Rare Plant Conservation Initiative, comprised of more than 22 organizations, after creating a strategy for needed actions such as best management practices for oil and gas development, is working with the industry to implement the practices.
And in an unusual accomplishment, a team of biologists, avian husbandry experts and veterinarians captured wild Nihoa millerbirds, insect-eating songbirds on the Hawaiian island of Nihoa, and translocated them to Laysan Island, restoring Millerbirds to the island after an absence of 100 years.
Restoring streams, releasing listed species into their historical ranges, and conducting field surveys and monitoring programs are among the diversity of initiatives by this year’s Recovery Champions. What began in Fiscal Year 2002 as a one-time award for Service staff members for achievements in conserving listed species was reactivated in 2007 and expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
For information about the 2011 Recovery Champions, please visit: