Regional Director Tom Melius presented the Silver Eagle Award to Joe Duggan, Pheasants Forever, and recognized staff involved in that partnership that have brought the success of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Grant and its resulting Waterfowl Production Area acquisitions.

“Partnerships are the bread and butter of successful organizations, and ours with Pheasants Forever is an outstanding example of that,” said Melius.  “Pheasants Forever is a long-standing partner with the Service in our Midwest Region. Their willingness to act as our ‘realty agent’ using Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage dollars to acquire lands that will become Waterfowl Production Areas, has landed over $24 million in Minnesota, since 2009.”

Pheasants Forever President/CEO Howard Vincent noted, “We have really come a long way in establishing what truly puts the Big P in the word partnerships, with the Service. We’ve grown from an operation in a basement in White Bear Lake to a national, even international, organization together with common goals of conserving habitat and wildlife for the benefit and enjoyment of people.”

All of the lands acquired through the Lessard-Sams Outodor Heritage partnership are donated as Waterfowl Production Areas. The lands are open to public recreation, hunting, fishing, trapping, photography, bird watching, environmental education and interpretation and more.

The gathering also offered Service and Pheasants Forever representatives the chance to celebrate the “front-line staff” who make things happen, insuring the dollars get to the right spot on the ground where they are needed most. Pheasant’s Forever’s Eran Sandquist, Joe Pavelko and Chad Bloom were recognized for their part in that, as were the entire Midwest Region’s realty staff.

“Be they ring-necked pheasants, or native species like bobolink or blue-winged teal, Joe and all of our great partners at Pheasants Forever place the same high priorities we do on ‘saving dirt’. That shared vision has solidified this relationship over 30 years and will sustain it into the future,” Melius said.

“Thanks to Joe, Pheasants Forever’s and our own staff for that continued dedication and great focus on conservation for the American people,” he added.

Image courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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