Arkansas Wildlife Biologist Receives National Conservation Award
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.— As a NWTF volunteer and as a staff member at the USDA Forest Service and the NWTF, Dennis Daniel has contributed to the restoration and conservation of the wild turkey in many different ways and places.
In recognition of his various achievements, Daniel received the NWTF Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award Feb. 16 at the NWTF Convention and Sport Show.
As a wildlife biologist for the USDA Forest Service, the Clarksville, Ark., native worked on the restoration of the wild turkey at posts in Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky and Georgia while supervising conservation efforts in a few other Southern states.
Still with the Forest Service, he played a pivotal role in making the NWTF a pioneer participant in the Forest Service's Land Stewardship Program, which has allowed the NWTF to cut timber in national forests, clearing habitat for wildlife with revenue from the timber sales invested in other habitat improvements in the same forests.
Later, Daniel served as a Forest Service liaison at NWTF headquarters, strengthening the relationship between the partners. Upon retirement from the Forest Service, he joined the NWTF for four years as a regional biologist in Arkansas.
Along the way, he founded at least three local NWTF chapters and served as banquet chairman of chapters in four different states.
"I moved nine times in 31 years," said Daniel, an all-state high school football player who now lives on part of what was his grandfather's farm. "It's all about being a conservationist and trying to restore wild turkeys back to public lands and fill that niche in the ecosystem."
Daniel's last post with the Forest Service was as liaison to the NWTF at NWTF headquarters, where he strengthened the scope of the relationship between the agency and the NWTF.
"He defined the position," said NWTF Chief Conservation Officer James Earl Kennamer. "He's a very good hunter and very motivated to educate our youth about conservation. He is an excellent representative of what we're trying to do as an organization."
While in Edgefield, Daniel and the Forest Service recognized an opportunity to form a mutually beneficial partnership with the NWTF through a pilot land stewardship program.
Daniel and Kennamer went on a hunting trip to West Virginia with Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth and a regional Forest Service official that proved pivotal.
Daniel said the weather was bad and the hunting was worse. But a lot was accomplished.
"We got to spend a lot of time talking in the cabin on how we could improve habitat," Daniel recalled. "It's a win-win situation for everybody. There's more turkeys and more turkeys to hunt." The result was a 2007 stewardship agreement for the NWTF to remove timber from the Sumter and Francis Marion national forests. The NWTF was able to perform the needed clearings at a cheaper rate than if the Forest Service had done the work.
Stewardships have allowed the NWTF to greatly expand its land management efforts in the last six years.
Daniel, the avid NWTF member and supporter, was a powerful ally in the NWTF's relationship with the Forest Service.
"Dennis had a real knack for working with people," Kennamer said. "Everybody who meets Dennis likes Dennis."
Early in his career, Daniel conceived and supervised the creation of large "walk-in" turkey areas in Arkansas' Ozark National Forest that are still popular today. Later, he was successful in establishing wild turkey restoration on public lands in Eastern Kentucky.
Daniel said many of the Forest Service projects he worked on that were designed to grow populations of other types of wildlife also helped wild turkeys.
Since his recent retirement from the NWTF, Daniel has entered into a few Forest Service land stewardship agreements. On one of his current projects, he spreads lime on several dozen wildlife openings.
The NWTF, a nonprofit organization, is the leader in upland wildlife habitat conservation. Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore 17.3 million acres of wildlife habitat, investing $412 million.
Since the NWTF's founding in 1973, the North American wild turkey population has increased from 1.3 million to 6.5 million with wild turkey inhabiting 99 percent of suitable habitat.
For more information about the Wayne Bailey Award or other convention highlights, call (800) THE-NWTF, visit www.nwtf.org or go to www.facebook.com/theNWTF.