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On March 27, 2008, Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief, National Forest Systems of the U.S. Forest Service, presided over the Wings Across the Americas Awards Ceremony, held in Phoenix, Arizona. Awards were given to Forest Service employees and their partners, including conservation organizations, universities, volunteers, foundations, and private sector firms.

Conserving Birds, Bats, and Butterflies

This annual event celebrates exceptional work that conserves birds, bats and butterflies and their habitats across the Americas . It recognizes the important roles that these species play in the environment as well as their value to human society.

Increasingly, birds are understood as providing important ecological, recreational, social, cultural, and economic benefits throughout the Americas . Unfortunately, bird species across the U.S. and the entire hemisphere are declining. Of the over 700 species that live in the U.S. at least part of the year, more than half are declining and over 200 are now at risk for becoming endangered—mostly due to habitat loss.

Bats have significant ecological roles as pollinators, seed dispersers and insect predators. Most North American bats consume large number of crop pests, contributing significantly to healthy forests and agricultural crops. Bat populations are declining globally, mostly due to habitat destruction.

The migration of the Monarchs is one of the most spectacular and unusual of the world’s natural events. Habitat loss poses a threat to Monarch throughout its annual cycle of breeding, migration and overwintering.

Partnerships Promotes Progress in Conservation

Partnerships have become an effective conservation tool in activities that take place across different land ownerships, and across domestic and international boundaries. The U.S. Forest Service has been fostering such partnerships for many years, through funding, by applying the expertise and hard work of the Agency’s personnel, and by providing a forum for participation by local citizens, governments, and organizations.

The Award Winners

The 2008 Awards ceremony held at the 73rd North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference brought partners together to recognize their outstanding achievements. Don DeLorenzo, the Wildlife Director for Region 3, as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, announced the awardees for five categories including:

1. Butterfly Conservation Award : Monarch Butterfly Research Project

From its humble beginning in 1994, the Monarch Butterfly Research Project (MBRP) has grown dramatically and now includes six important components. The first component is the migration monitoring and butterfly tagging. Since 1996 monarch migration census and tagging has been conducted by volunteers at Peninsula Point. Some of the tagged monarchs were found at over wintering areas near El Rosario , Mexico —more than 1900 miles from Peninsula Point , Michigan . The second component, larva monitoring, part of the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project at the University of Minnesota St. Paul, focuses on monitoring larvae, or caterpillars, and eggs of monarchs and the health of milkweed on the Peninsula. Data sharing constitutes the third component with an emphasis on sharing locally collected data globally. Data collected at Peninsula Point is one of the longest running datasets in North America and has helped researchers across North America learn more about monarchs, leading to greater understanding of the unique and endangered phenomenon of the Monarch butterfly migration. The fourth component is habitat improvement which includes the removal of invasive non-native plants, planting of native wildflowers for butterflies to use for nectar and documenting habitat changes year to year. Public outreach forms the fifth component of the project, with an emphasis on monarch butterflies, their migration and the dangers to the species. To date, more than 1500 children and adults have participated in these programs. The sixth and most important component is the many volunteers and our partner, Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County; who have supported the Monarch Butterfly Research Project since its inception. Success of the project is due to their support and hard work— volunteers have contributed over 7,000 hours!

Award Recipients

US Forest Service

  • Anne Okonek, Hiawatha National Forest
  • Janet Kudell-Ekstrum, Hiawatha National Forest


  • Ed McCarthy, Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County ,
  • Robert Schmeling, Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County
  • Gina Badgett, volunteer
  • Pat Landry, volunteer
  • Sue Jamison, volunteer
  • Therese Fix, volunteer
  • CJ Meitner, volunteer
  • Bill and Clara Benesch, volunteers
Certificate Recipients
  • Chelsea Badgett volunteer
  • Jack Badgett, volunteer
  • Dave Badgett, volunteer
  • Mary Lachat, volunteer
  • Nancy Mead, volunteer
  • Amy Wilson, volunteer
  • Judy Hansen, volunteer
  • George Semmens, volunteer
  • Mary Strom, volunteer
  • Naomi Hult, volunteer
  • Nancy and Herbert Carlmark, volunteers
  • Vicky and Jim Nugent, volunteers
  • Julie Landwehr, volunteer


2. Bat Conservation Award: Ecology and Conservation of Forest Bats in the Southeastern US

In 2000, the Southern Research Station initiated a comprehensive research program on the ecology and conservation of southern forest bats, led by Dr. Susan Loeb. The program is the product of numerous partnerships and collaborations with state and federal agencies, universities, and non-governmental organizations, directly responding to the needs of customers—those land managers, researchers and scientists whose work affects and is affected by bats. The three main areas of research are: 1) the ecology and conservation of endangered and sensitive species, 2) habitat associations of all southern forest bats and the effects of forest management practices on their habitat use and populations, and 3) development and evaluation of inventorying and monitoring forest bats.

The research has been fruitful, resulting in numerous reports to federal and state agencies, 7 publications, 2 PhD dissertations, 2 MS theses, and over 35 presentations at regional and national scientific meetings. The work has also been used in the development of the Indiana bat recovery plan and in several Biological Assessments on the Chatthoochee and Sumter National Forests . Moreover, results of several inventories have led to in-depth studies on the ecology of species of special concern. The program has generated many additional benefits as well. Foremost is increasing the visibility and knowledge of bats and their importance among other scientists and support staff at the Southern Research Station, the National Forests in Region 8, at National Parks and with the general public. Outreach programs stress the importance of bats, helping to dispel the many negative myths about them. The program has also funded many graduate research programs and summer internships, and provided volunteer opportunities for many additional students.

Award Recipients

US Forest Service

  • Susan Loeb, Southern Research Station
  • Dennis Krusac, Region 8
  • USFS— Savannah River
  • Gary Peters, Francis Marion/Sumter National Forest
  • Cynthia Wentworth, Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
  • Daniel Boone National Forest
  • Mike Wilkins and Doreen Miller, Nantahala National Forest


  • Dr. Eric Britzke, Britzke and Associates
  • Bill Hulslander and Theresa Thom, Congaree National Park
  • Dr. Patricia Layton, Clemson University
  • Mary Bunch, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
  • Robert Currie , U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Certificate Recipients
  • Chris Muckenfuss, MeadWestvaco
  • Bill Stiver, Great Smoky Mountain National Park


3. Research and Management Partnership Award: Mapping Landbirds Across Bird Conservation Regions: Decision Support for Joint Ventures

The need for new modeling techniques led to the birth of this partnership in 2004 that focuses on linking priority forest-breeding birds to habitat. Specifically, it became apparent that land managers needed a way to assess current distribution and abundances of birds, define population goals, and set habitat objectives in a spatially-explicit framework. The partnership resulted in an innovative modeling approach that can be readily applied to other forested landscapes and Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs) with priority forest birds. It provides a novel and potentially very useful decision support tool to conservation planners charged with developing spatially-explicit population goals and habitat objectives for Partners in Flight, a multi-agency and private sector effort to conserve landbirds.

Currently, models that will result from this project are being applied to the Central Hardwoods and West Gulf Coastal Plain BCRs that are under the planning auspices of two Joint Ventures: the Central Hardwoods and Lower Mississippi Valley , respectively. There are six National Forests within the boundaries of the project area: Mark Twain, Hoosier, Shawnee , Ozark, Ouachita, Land Between The Lakes.

This spring, two events will provide orientation and outreach about the work. A short workshop will introduce the planning tools to the bird conservation community and a workshop will give Joint Venture partners and others in-depth training in the use of the planning tools.

Award Recipients

US Forest Service

  • Frank R. Thompson III , US Forest Service Northern Research Station


  • Charles Baxter, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • D. Todd Jones-Farrand , Missouri Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
  • Dan Twedt, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
    William B. Uihlein, III , US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Jane A. Fitzgerald, American Bird Conservancy
  • John M. Tirpak, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Certificate Recipients
  • Craig P. Conzelmann, USGS National Wetlands Research Center
  • Lee E. O’Brien, US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Mark D. Nelson , US Forest Service Northern Research Station



4. Habitat Management and Partnership Award: Boy River Prescribed Burn Partnership

The Leech Lake Reservation in the Boy River area is home to the highest population of the Yellow Rail in Minnesota . The Yellow rail is a beautiful, small waterbird on the Forest Service Region 9 Sensitive Species. The habitat of this bird is fire dependent wet meadow, an uncommon habitat type on the Forest . Though prescribed burns have been conducted for more than twenty years, not until 2001 did the idea of restoring the near-natural fire regime to this unique land type emerge. Research has shown that the use of controlled burns in wetland areas can be a useful management tool for maintaining Yellow Rail habitat. Thus, a new partnership was formed—to provide and enhance habitat for the Yellow Rail as well as the LeConte’s Sparrow, and Sharp-tailed Sparrow. Partners included the Chippewa National Forest , the Leech Lake Division of Resource Management, Cass County , two Regions of the Department of Natural Resources and multiple private partners. The partnership continues to provide other benefits including fuel reduction and ensuing fire protection for many neighbors and local communities, and improving nesting habitat conditions. Success of this multi-agency habitat improvement project has been due to the efforts of the many dedicated partners involved.

Award Recipients

US Forest Service

  • Gary Roerick, Chippewa National Forest


  • Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Division of Resource Management
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Northwest Region, Park Rapids
  • Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Northeast Region, Grand Rapids
  • Cass County Land Department
Certificate Recipients
  • Charles and Barbara Donatelle, private land owners
  • James Anderson, private land owner
  • Jerome and Sharon Bofferding, private land owner
  • Carl and Debra Ellingson, private land owner
  • Don Pierce, retired DNR wildlife manager



5. International Cooperation Award: Cerulean Warbler Nonbreeding Habitat Assessment


The US Forest Service is working to protect the Cerulean Warbler, a species of intense conservation concern that is considered vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union (IUCN.) El Grupo Cerúleo, subcommittee of Cerulean Warbler Technical Group, is the authoritative source of information on the nonbreeding distribution of Cerulean Warbler. The group’s success is due to the fact that it comprises a unique partnership of individuals, agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic institutions—representing all 5 countries of the nonbreeding range of the species in South America . As one of the founding members and the current chairman, Paul Hamel has dedicated much of the past five years to coordinating the efforts of El Grupo. One of its projects, the Cerulean Warbler Winter Habitat Assessment, has focused on determining the nonbreeding distribution of the Cerulean Warbler in South America , and modeling that distribution. This modeling allows meaningful conservation, management and protection actions to be directed to maintaining and improving habitats for the Cerulean Warbler in South America .

Members of El Grupo have conducted 12 field studies of the distribution of the species, in all five countries of the northern Andes, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia, from 2003-2006, to identify new localities and confirm earlier reports. For the past five years, the group has sponsored workshops and an international conference on modeling the South American range of the Cerulean Warbler, during which historical and existing recent field surveys were used to develop 5 alternate GIS models of the nonbreeding distribution of the species. Further, group members ProAves Colombia and the American Bird Conservancy worked together to establish the first conservation reserve purchased in South America to protect habitat for a Nearctic-Neotropical migratory bird.

Ongoing work includes hosting an upcoming event that brings together additional partners to conserve migratory and resident birds in economically viable ecosystems in the Northern Andes . Funding for the work comes from the US Forest Service International Programs, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and others.

Award Recipients

US Forest Service

  • Paul B. Hamel, US Forest Service, Southern Research Station


  • Andrea Ganzenmueller, Ecociencia, Ecuador
  • Olga Lucía Hernández, World Wildlife Fund, Colombia, Colombia
  • David Mehlman, The Nature Conservancy
  • Milton Romero, Instituto von Humboldt , Colombia
  • Carolina Tovar Ingar, Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina, Perú
Certificate Recipients
  • Jennifer Baldy, University of Memphis
  • Sara Barker, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology
  • Silvia Benítez, The Nature Conservancy, Ecuador
  • Jorge Botero, Cenicafé, Colombia
  • Diego Francisco Cisneros Heredia, Aves & Conservación – BirdLife en Ecuador, Ecuador
  • Gabriel Colorado Zuluaga, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Colombia
  • Francisco Cuesta, Ecociencia, Ecuador
  • Ian Davidson, Birdlife International, Ecuador
  • David Díaz Fernández, Birdlife International, Ecuador
  • Jeremy Flanagan, Nature & Culture International, Perú
  • Juan Freile, Fundación Numashir, Ecuador
  • Gustavo Galindo, Instituto von Humboldt, Colombia
  • Santiago García, Birdlife International, Ecuador
  • Kate Girvan, Queens University and Sedbergh School , Canada
  • Esteban Guevara, Aves & Conservación – BirdLife en Ecuador, Ecuador
  • A. Bennett Hennessey, Asociación Armonía – BirdLife International, Bolivia
  • Sebastian Herzog, Asociación Armonía – BirdLife International, Bolivia
  • Megan Hill, RARE Center for Conservation
  • Miguel Lentino, Colección Phelps, Venezuela
  • Gabriela Montoya, Ministerio del Ambiente, Ecuador
  • María Isabel Moreno, ProAves Colombia, Colombia
  • Luis German Naranjo, World Wildlife Fund , Colombia , Colombia
  • Esra Ozdenerol, University of Memphis
  • Cecilia Pacheco, Aves & Conservación– BirdLife en Ecuador, Ecuador
  • David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy
  • Carlos Pedraza, Instituto von Humboldt, Colombia
  • Paolo Ramoni-Perazzi, Universidad de los Andes, Venezuela
  • Luis Miguel Renjifo, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia
  • David Romo, Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador
  • Paul Salaman, American Bird Conservancy
  • Tatiana Santander, Aves & Conservación – BirdLife en Ecuador, Ecuador
  • Francisco Sornoza, Fundación Jocotoco, Ecuador
  • Tomás Valqui, Louisiana State University, Perú
  • Melinda Welton, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory
  • Tom Will, US Fish and Wildlife Service


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