Alabama Wildlife Federation recognizes conservationists at annual ceremony
The Alabama Wildlife Federation Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards ceremony was Friday, Aug. 7, representing the highest conservation honors in the state.
Honorees at this year’s ceremony included: Dr. Mike Drummond, Forest Conservationist of the Year; Carl Jamison, Land Conservationist of the Year; and The Alabama Rivers and Streams Network, Water Conservationist of the Year.
Over the past 45 years, the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) has presented these awards to individuals and organizations that make great contributions to the conservation of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources.
Dr. Mike Drummond was recognized for his extraordinary commitment to forest management. White’s Bluff, his 1,700-acre property along the Alabama River in Dallas County, consists of riparian hardwoods, mixed pine-hardwoods, loblolly pine plantations and open pine-grasslands. Black Belt prairies and old field habitats are also interspersed throughout the property.
A variety of forest management techniques have been used to improve forest productivity and wildlife habitat at White’s Bluff, including:
- Reclaiming loblolly pine stands from hardwood invasion.
- Thinning and prescribed burning in loblolly pine plantations.
- Prescribed burning in mixed pine-hardwoods.
- Retaining riparian hardwoods along intermittent streams, creeks and the river.
In addition, Black Belt prairie restoration, old field habitat establishment and exotic species control are conducted to further improve wildlife habitat on the property and have all yielded significant results.
Jamison was presented the Land Conservationist of the Year Award for his exceptional commitment to restoration and management of one of Alabama’s unique landscapes.
As managing partner of Ridge Farms, a 2,000-acre property in Greene County composed of hardwoods, mixed upland forests, loblolly pine plantations and Black Belt prairie, Jamison established a goal to manage the property for the benefit of people and wildlife. His first step was engaging natural resource professionals to develop a habitat management strategy for the forests and prairie.
In addition to active management of the forests on the property, that strategy included restoration of over 400 acres of Black Belt prairie. These sites were invaded by eastern red cedar and have now been reclaimed and are actively managed to support functional native prairie.
Jamison’s commitment to Black Belt prairie conservation goes beyond just the property he manages. He is a member of the Alabama/Mississippi Black Belt Prairie Restoration Initiative, where he provides a private landowner’s perspective for prairie conservation. In addition, he is advancing Black Belt prairie knowledge by allowing researchers from the University of Alabama to conduct prairie-related research on Ridge Farms.
The Alabama Rivers and Streams Network was recognized as Water Conservationist of the Year. Comprised of a diverse partnership of industries, agencies, nongovernmental organizations and landowners working together to protect water resources, the network began with four organizations in 2010 and now includes 50.
Network partners have identified 60 watersheds and river reaches across the state for habitat and water quality restoration, and the recovery of imperiled and listed aquatic species. Their early results are impressive:
- Over 40 stream restoration projects.
- Over 500 Biotic Integrity Surveys.
- Over 5,000 stream/road crossing assessments.
- 200,000 cultured freshwater mussels and snails released into native streams.
- And due to studies conducted by network members, four aquatic species have been federally delisted, one downlisted, and three listed, and 13 aquatic species have avoided federal listing.
AWF’s Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards were created to promote leadership by example, and, in turn, increase conservation of the natural resources in the state, including its wildlife, forests, soils, water and air.
The program is designed to bring about a greater knowledge and awareness of conservation practices and projects and to give proper recognition to those persons and organizations that make outstanding contributions to the natural resource welfare of their community and state.
This year’s event was modified to incorporate COVID-19 safety precautions. Usually an indoor banquet with 400 attendees, this year’s event was held outdoors at the Matt Bowden Gathering Area at the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s NaturePlex facility in Millbrook, and the 90 attendees were encouraged to wear face coverings.
Gov. Kay Ivey provided a congratulatory video prepared specifically for the 2020 award recipients.
Presenting sponsors for the event were Alabama Power and PowerSouth Energy. The Westervelt Company, Hammer LGC Inc., and FirstGuard LLC sponsored the food and refreshments for the event. Alabama Gulf seafood was sponsored by the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission. Additional sponsor support was provided by the National Wildlife Federation, Southeast Region.
The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization. To learn more about AWF, including membership details, programs and projects, contact Alabama Wildlife Federation at 334-285-4550 or visit www.alabamawildlife.org.
(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)