The recipients of the 2013 Gary T. Meyers Bird Conservation Award have been announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in collaboration with the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) and the Association of Joint Venture Management Boards (AJVMB). The recipients of the awards are Kenneth Babcock, Senior Director of Conservation for Ducks Unlimited, and the North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership.
The award recognizes visionary individuals or groups that have shown unparalleled accomplishments in advancing the protection and restoration of bird populations and their habitats in North America. It is named after the retired director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, who was himself a recipient of the award in 2010.
“Birds today face more challenges than ever before, but these conservation champions give us cause for hope,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Their efforts show us that when we have the vision, the knowledge and the dedication, we can succeed and ensure that healthy bird populations endure for future generations of Americans.”
Kenneth Babcock has been an active member of the professional conservation community for over five decades, serving in leadership roles for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Missouri Department of Conservation, and numerous Joint Venture management boards. Throughout his career, he has been a key player in many conservation partnerships, but perhaps most significantly in the development and implementation of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. This seminal enterprise helped catalyze the recovery of the continent’s waterfowl populations from record lows in the 1980s, and profoundly influenced all subsequent bird conservation initiatives. Ken was also instrumental in expanding the use of science in setting hunting regulations, developed the first long-range management plan for the eastern prairie population of Canada geese, and spearheaded the foundational “Design for Conservation” for the Missouri Department of Conservation. Since 1996, Ken has worked at Ducks Unlimited, where he secured the greatest number of conservation easement acres in the organization’s history.
The North Carolina Sandhills Conservation Partnership (www.ncscp.org) has been a vital force in the recovery of the Sandhills population of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, effectively doubling the number of birds from approximately 780 in 1983 to more than 1,570 in 2012. The partnership involves 18 federal, state and non-profit organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army at Fort Bragg, U.S. Army Environmental Command, North Carolina Office of Conservation, Planning, and Community Affairs, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, North Carolina Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Sandhills Area Land Trust and the Sandhills Ecological Institute. Since 2000, these groups have worked together to conserve the native wildlife of the longleaf pine ecosystem, developing management and conservation goals for public and private lands, purchasing land or conservation easements to protect over 25,000 acres of woodpecker habitat, implementing research and survey programs, and helping restore fire regimes that are critical for maintaining woodpecker habitat.
“These conservation champions have demonstrated exceptional commitment to and success in achieving bird conservation on broad and finite scales. Each has also proven that through partnership, the whole can exceed to the sum of the parts,” said Gordon Myers, Executive North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Director and Chair of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative.