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2014 National Fish Habitat Award Winners Honored

National Fish Habitat Partnership
In conjunction with the National Fish Habitat Board meeting on Wednesday, November 5th at the Gaylord Convention Center, just outside of Washington, DC. Tim Birdsong (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) (Guadalupe Bass Restoration Initiative) and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, were named as the recipients of the National Fish Habitat Award for Extraordinary Action in Support of Fish Habitat Conservation. This was the sixth year the National Fish Habitat Awards have been handed out, recognizing outstanding achievements in Fish Habitat Conservation.

About the Award Winners:
(Tim Birdsong)
Tim Birdsong was instrumental in organizing and developing the Native Black Bass Keystone Initiative, a Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP) sponsored program of which the Guadalupe Bass Restoration Initiative (GBRI) is a part collaborating and planning with multiple local, nongovernmental, state, federal, and foundation partners to address these watershed scale conservation objectives directing funding for research to fill critical information gaps to support Guadalupe Bass genetic and habitat restoration implementing on-the-ground restoration projects to protect and restore watershed habitats and providing coordination and adaptive management for the GBRI. Tim’s role at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as Chief of the Habitat Conservation Branch includes overseeing watershed conservation, watershed restoration, instream flow science, conservation of imperiled fish and mussel species, management of aquatic nuisance species, river recreation, and river public access. Birdsong brings more than a decade of experience at the state and federal levels in addressing aquatic resource science, restoration, and policy issues. Since 2013, he has also served as Chair of the SARP Steering Committee.

(Matanuska-Susitna Borough)
The exceptional leadership of Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB) staff and departments is making substantial and positive contribution to fish habitat conservation in the MSB – from filling gaps in geospatial and habitat information, implementing fish passage projects, protecting habitat, to adopting plans and policies to prevent future habitat impacts. Examples of conservation actions underscoring the MSB’s exceptional contributions include:

Partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state to raise $6 million to remove 81 fish passage barriers at road-stream crossings

Developing local wetlands and stormwater management plans and assisting with completion of a functional wetlands assessment to help the Borough grow with minimal impact on water quality and fish habitat.

- Obtaining unanimous Borough Assembly support for adoption of an ordinance requiring road-stream crossings to be designed to pass fish and mirror natural channel functions.

- Filling Information Gaps: Obtaining LiDar and aerial imagery for 3,450 square miles of the MSB that will improve capacity to assess the condition of fish habitat.

Prioritizing salmon research and fish passage in annual capital improvement funding requests to the State Legislature and successfully securing these funds ($2.5 million in 2014) in order to help match Service and State dollars supporting fish passage and other related habitat improvement projects.

Previous National Fish Habitat Award Winners:
Region 2 US Fish and Wildlife Service: New Mexico Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Arizona Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, Mora National Fish Hatchery US Forest Service: Gila National Forest and Coronado National Forest and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and the Arizona Game and Fish Department (Extraordinary Action Award)

Corinne Smith (TNC) (Scientific Achievement Award)
Maureen Gallagher (FWS) (Jim Range Conservation Vision Award)
BLM, Coos Bay District Office (Extraordinary Action Award)*
National Fish Habitat Assessment Team, Michigan State University & NOAA (Scientific Achievement Award)
Glen Lake Association (Outreach and Education Award)
Scott Robinson (SARP) (Jim Range Conservation Vision Award)
Lower Bourbeuse Landowner Committee/Missouri Department of Conservation (Extraordinary Action Award)*
David Moe Nelson (NOAA) (Scientific Achievement Award)
Wasilla Soil and Water Conservation District (Outreach and Education Award)
Lake Leaders Institute, University of Wisconsin- Extension Lakes (Outreach and Education Award)
EPA Office of Research and Development (Scientific Achievement Award)
Yvon Chouinard – Patagonia (Jim Range Conservation Vision Award)
Project SHARE (Extraordinary Action Award)*
Chesapeake Bay Foundation (Outreach and Education Award),
The Fish and Aquatic Ecology Unit of the U.S. Forest Service & Trout Unlimited
(Co-winners – Scientific Achievement Award)
Stephen Perry (NH) (Exceptional Vision Award)
About the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
Since 2006, the National Fish Habitat Partnership has been a partner in 417 projects in 46 states benefiting fish habitat. The National Fish Habitat Partnership works to conserve fish habitat nationwide, leveraging federal, state, tribal, and private funding resources to achieve the greatest impact on fish populations through priority conservation projects. The national partnership implements the National Fish Habitat Action Plan and supports 19 regional grassroots partner organizations.