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18 Individuals Honored for Critical Wildlife Habitat Work

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Photos and interviews for media available upon request through Josh Fleming.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Eighteen individuals working on six critical projects were honored with Making Tracks with the Forest Service Awards during the 36th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show.

The Making Tracks with the Forest Service Awards recognize people and projects that that best incorporate conservation education, partnerships and wild turkey management.

The Habitat Management Program category recognizes program accomplishments that benefit wild turkeys over several years.

  • Steve Wilhelm earned the Individual Habitat Management Project Award for his work in Long Cane Ranger District in South Carolina's Sumter National Forest. Wilhelm was instrumental in improving forest health, including the use of initial thinning of pine trees, at an annual rate of 500 to 1,000 acres. Several thousand acres were thinned and multiple wildlife habitat improvements, such as prescribed burning and seeding, were made to the area.

  • Anae Otto and Burt Stalter earned the Group Habitat Management Project Award for their efforts in the Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake Ranger District in California. Their project included vegetation management and habitat restoration efforts on 3,211acres in the Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area.

  • Jason Engle and Eddie Taylor of the USFS, along with NWTF volunteers Dale Bounds and Craig White, and NWTF wildlife biologist Scotty Parsons earned the Group Habitat Management Program Award for their efforts in Texas' Angelina-Sabine National Forest. The group established a dove field to provide young hunters a chance to hunt. The program included clearing the 74-acre field area, installing a low-water crossing, a kiosk and improved parking and other improvements.

The Partnership Achievement category recognizes accomplishments in strengthening and expanding the partnership between the USDA Forest Service and the NWTF.

  • Paul Widowski, Steve Roy, Dan McKinley, Jodie Vanselow, Rob Hoelscher, Chris Casey and Sarah Schoenberg received the Partnership Achievement Group Award for their work in New York's Green Mountain/Finger Lakes National Forests. The group partnered with the NWTF and other agencies to improve seven acres of aspens for woodcock, grouse, wild turkeys and other wildlife, mow and maintain more than 30 acres of wildlife openings, provide informational brochures to visitors to the Finger Lakes National Forest and submit grant applications to improve several areas in the Great Lakes Basin and Finger Lakes National Forest.

  • Dustin Appleton from the Ozark/St. Francis National Forest, Boston Mountain Ranger District, in Arkansas, received the Individual Partnership Achievement Award for his leadership in improving and maintaining 600 acres of wildlife openings, including installing gates, protecting wild turkey habitat, eliminating invasive plants species and feral hog management.

The Conservation Education category recognizes conservation and education projects for wild turkey restoration, management and conservation.

  • Micah Thorning and Carl Petrick received the Group Conservation Education Award for their work with the More Kids in the Woods project in National Forests in Florida. The project introduced more than 1,000 youths from local schools to the outdoors in two weeks, introducing each child to a variety of activities, including turkey calling and management, prescribed burning, habitat management, archery, law enforcement, forestry and wildlife conservation and management.

The U.S. Forest Service and the NWTF are involved in several cooperative projects, including stewardship, NWTF Super Fund habitat and Energy for Wildlife projects, and grant projects like More Kids in the Woods, for the last several years.

The NWTF is a nonprofit conservation organization that works daily to further its mission of conserving the wild turkey and preserving our hunting heritage. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, investing more than $372 million to conserve 17 million acres of critical habitat for all types of wildlife.

For more information about the NWTF call (800) THE-NWTF or visit




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