Pennsylvania Wildlife Manager Receives National Award
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Richard Cramer can take special satisfaction when he sees wild turkey, white tailed deer, bears, and other species of wildlife - big and small - roaming two particular tracts of land in and around the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania.
Cramer, a land management group supervisor with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, supervised two major projects that greatly enhanced wildlife habitat in this popular spot for hunters and conservationists in the central region of the state.
For his work in rescuing a 120-acre grassland tract from non-native invasive plants and enhancing 20,000 acres for wildlife in the Allegheny National Forest, Cramer received the NWTF's Joe Kurz Wildlife Manager of the Year Award Feb. 14 at the NWTF National Convention and Sport Show.
The scope of the work Cramer supervised - he also had several other projects, including some with local NWTF chapters using NWTF Super Funds, in progress - could have been overwhelming.
But now the "Beanfields" grassland project along the Allegheny River and the "Martin Run" project on national forest land have proven to be huge successes.
"It's been a challenge, but it's been a welcome and fun challenge," said Cramer, who currently serves as president of the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association. "It's always nice to go back and see how the wildlife is using the land."
The Joe Kurz Award is presented annually to a wildlife manager or wildlife technician who has contributed greatly to wild turkey habitat enhancement, conservation or our wildlife resources and the mission of the NWTF.
NWTF regional biologist Bob Eriksen praised the work of Cramer and his PGC crews over the three years of the projects.
Through a grant from the National Forest Foundation, Cramer's crew worked with the NWTF restored 65 acres of permanent herbaceous openings for wildlife at Martin Run. Cramer's crew refurbished 27 acres of wildlife openings, far more than could have been accomplished using only outside contractors.
The work at Martin Run included planting of trees and shrubs on 255 acres, construction of 21 vernal ponds, the enhancement of bat habitat and the addition of apple trees as food sources.
"(Cramer's) supervision and his knowledge resulted in outstanding results on those openings, and almost immediate improvement in the use of the openings by wild turkeys, deer and black bears," said Eriksen.
At the "Beanfields," part of a Bobb's Fork Stewardship Agreement, Cramer and his crews planted 65 acres with legumes, warm season grasses and wildflower mixes. They also worked with the NWTF on a 10-acre aspen generation cut to benefit American woodcock.
The Beanfields project included construction of a bat condominium on site. The expertise of Cramer and his crew allowed portions of the agreement to be completed under budget.
"Rich and his crews have worked tirelessly and made great strides in wildlife habitat enhancement in the years since our project was initiated.
Cramer said the projects would have a positive impact on thousands of acres for wildlife.
"They've been really good projects," he said.
The NWTF, a non-profit organization, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation in North America. The NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and other wildlife species and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
Through vital partnerships with state, federal and provincial agencies, the NWTF has conserved 17.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, investing more than $412 million.
Since the NWTF was founded in 1973, the wild turkey population has increased from 1.3 million to almost 7 million and has been restored to 99 percent of suitable habitat. Wild turkeys are in the 48 continental U.S. state and Hawaii.
For information on the NWTF, go to www.nwtf.org or call (800) THE-NWTF.