TPWD earns land stewardship award for turkey work

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The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) presented Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) with its Land Stewardship Award during the 38th annual NWTF National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn. MidwayUSA was the official show sponsor.

The NWTF has given the Land Stewardship Award each year since 1994 to forestry and utility companies and organizations for excellence in land management, partnerships and NWTF project support. The award recognizes those who have done outstanding work to benefit natural resources through land stewardship and partnerships. This year’s award winner was chosen based on how their work strengthens the NWTF’s new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative and habitat restoration within four focal landscapes in Texas.

“I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the men and women who work for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,” said Ross Melinchuk, deputy executive director for natural resources with TPWD. “It symbolizes the strong partnership between and among Texas landowners, our department, state and federal agencies, research institutions and NWTF’s staff and volunteers. I want to applaud NWTF for launching Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. The initiative aligns very closely TPWD’s goals of trying to conserve habitat, recruit new hunters into the fold and increase access for hunters.”

The state agency operates 95 state parks and natural areas, 49 wildlife management areas and eight fish hatcheries that comprise 1.4 million acres that are managed in the public trust for recreation and conservation. Texas has 12 distinct regions covering 268,000 square miles, which present unprecedented conservation and land-management challenges. TPWD’s support of NWTF programs has been vital in the Lone Star State.

TPWD has provided $350,000 since 2007 to support two cooperative biologist positions that have fostered $4.5 million of habitat work on public and private land. In addition to other financial commitments, the TPWD awarded the NWTF $1.4 million in Game Bird Stamp Funds to help create early successional habitat to benefit wild turkeys, quail, grassland birds and other wildlife on public and private land.

This commitment includes partnering with the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture in Texas to administer $410,000 for habitat work that will benefit upland wildlife species. TPWD continues their four-year commitment to infuse $50,000 of Game Bird Stamp Funds annually to assist landowners in removing invasive plant species on the Canadian River.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is a national leader in effectively conserving natural resources and promoting outdoor recreation,” said Becky Humphries, NWTF executive vice president of conservation. “The agency’s contributions to the NWTF, to conserving habitat and preserving our nation’s hunting traditions, are too generous to measure.”

The NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to give the NWTF more energy and purpose than ever. Through this national initiative, NWTF has committed to raising $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, create at least 1.5 million new hunters and open access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting and outdoor enjoyment. Without hunters, there will be no wildlife or habitat. The NWTF is determined to Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt.

For more information about the Land Stewardship Award or other convention highlights, contact Melanie Swearingen at [email protected] or (803) 637-7634.

Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

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