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02/13/2014

Passionate Conservation Advocate Wins NWTF National Award



Jim Garrison
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NASHVILLE, Tenn.— Jim Garrison's leadership and commitment to promoting hunting and conservation practices earned this 33-year veteran of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award at the 38th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn. MidwayUSA was the official show sponsor.

The award recognizes wildlife managers who have proven themselves exceptional stewards of wild turkey populations and habitat.

The Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award is named in honor of a former Georgia Department of Natural Resources wildlife chief for his leadership and the vital role he played in improving wildlife management. Kurz also was a principal figure in the wild turkey trap and transfer program across North America.

"Being nominated in the same category as the previous winners, by an organization I respect so much, is an incredible honor," said Garrison, who retired from Florida FWCC in December 2013. "Keeping land open to average hunters who may not have much money to spend is essential to preserving our hunting traditions. Since I was a boy, I felt working with wildlife and improving wildlife habitat was my life's calling. To win an award for doing what I love just blows me away."

The NWTF determined this year's award winners based on how their work strengthens the organization's new Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative. Throughout his tenure as area biologist for the 76,000-acre Camp Blanding Wildlife Management Area, Garrison has been an outstanding advocate for hunting, and the restoration of wildlife habitat and endangered species.

In 1985 he was instrumental in establishing youth hunts on Camp Blanding WMA. These hunts continue to provide high quality deer hunting opportunities for novice hunters. He often helps young hunters clean their harvest and teaches them about ethics and biology during these hunts. Garrison has mentored dozens of young aspiring outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife biologists by working with them at game check stations, during wildlife population surveys and on prescribed fires.

He and his staff cultivate more than 50 acres of wildlife openings of cool- and warm-season plantings on Camp Blanding WMA, which is primarily used as a training area for military personnel. A strong advocate of conducting prescribed burns, Garrison helped start an aerial prescribed burning program on the WMA. Prescribed burning on the area totals approximately 12,000 acres per year, which benefits wildlife and increases hunter satisfaction. The WMA is consistently a prime destination for spring turkey hunters and the annual wild turkey harvest there often approaches 50 birds. Wildlife and the citizens of Florida reap the benefits of Garrison's passionate advocacy for conservation and hunting.

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 Joe Kurz Excellence in Wildlife Management Award or other convention highlights, contact Melanie Swearingen at mswearingen@nwtf.net or (803) 637-7634.

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