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NWTF and USDA Forest Service Awards Recognize Conservation Achievements

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Making Tracks with the USDA Forest Service awards recognize people and projects that best incorporate conservation education, partnerships and wild turkey management.

February 18, 20243 min read

The NWTF presented the awards in different categories during its 48th annual Convention and Sport Show, sponsored by Mossy Oak, to projects and programs that bolstered NWTF’s mission delivery on our nation’s forests and grasslands.

2023 Making Tracks with the USDA Forest Service award recipients are:

Dena Holmes Collaboration Award: National Master Stewardship Agreement Team

Dena Holmes, who passed away in January 2022, was a 22-year employee of the NWTF and served as the stewardship agreements and contracting manager for more than 15 years of her time with the NWTF. Holmes’ namesake award honors collaborative and creative projects that accomplish great work on the ground through the stewardship authority, as well as other tools and agreements.

The 2023 Dena Holmes Collaboration Award recognizes the collaborative, interdisciplinary team that helped develop and implement the NWTF and USDA Forest Service’s $50 million, 20-year National Master Stewardship Agreement.

This first-of-its-kind agreement paves the way for these partner organizations to work together to address the wildfire crisis in the West and promote healthy forests across the U.S. 

This agreement is the largest in the NWTF’s 50-year history and is one of the first long-term agreements of its kind between the Forest Service and a conservation partner. The NWTF is the largest and longest-serving non-governmental partner involved in Forest Service stewardship agreements. This master stewardship agreement expands funding and partnership opportunities with other federal and state agencies and tribes, as well as with the timber industry, municipal water providers, other conservation partners and volunteers.

Partnership Achievement: Six Shooter Team

The Making Tracks Partnership Achievement Award is being awarded to representatives from the Forest Service’s Klamath National Forest, Forestry First and California Deer Association for their collaborative efforts in stewardship agreements and the Timber Transport Pilot Project in California.

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

The NWTF implemented the Six Shooter project on the Goosenest Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest, which included harvesting 2,746 acres of fire-salvaged material that supported mill infrastructure in three states, and about 3,000 acres of habitat and fuels reduction work. This project was also the first project to test a rail transportation pilot that moved logs from an area where there was surplus timber to an industry partner in another state who lacked material.

With respect to the railway timber transportation pilot, partners sent approximately 713 truckloads of fire-salvaged material to Gilchrist Forest Products in Oregon, from which 82 railcars of logs were delivered to Wyoming.

Working together to do something that hasn’t been done before embodies strong partnership. Despite overcoming many new obstacles, the players on the team had great individual skill sets that were maximized by everyone’s willingness to collaborate. Together the team worked through administrative and implementation issues to get a great project done for wildlife conservation, while supporting the timber industry and wildfire crisis strategy goals.

Habitat Management Program Award – Shawnee National Forest

The NWTF currently has two active stewardship agreements on the Shawnee National Forest, Buttermilk Hill Wildlife Project and Log Mark Pine Stewardship Project. Both projects include a variety of habitat work that is instrumental in improving wildlife habitat and preserving the native oak-hickory ecosystem of Illinois.

Since the Shawnee is the largest body of public land in the state of Illinois, it is heavily used for outdoor recreation; failure to perform work laid out in these agreements would reduce overall recreation ability and enjoyment for the many people that recreate in the Prairie State.

The Buttermilk Hill Stewardship Agreement is a multi-faceted project that includes forest stand improvement, non-native invasive species, control, mastication and tree planting. The Buttermilk Hill project includes over 1,200 acres of forest improvements.

Similarly, the Log Mark Pine Stewardship Project is also a multi-faceted project that includes a variety of forest management practices. The Log Mark Pine project includes over 2,000 acres of habitat improvement work. This work will impact the Little Cache reservoir area and cretaceous hills area of the Shawnee NF. To date 1,035 acres of forest stand improvement and invasive species control work have been accomplished.

The work accomplished via these two stewardship agreements is positively impacting wildlife habitat in many ways, including improving foraging habitat, creating temporary nesting habitat within timber-dominated ecosystems, while also producing early successional habitat within timber stands as the canopies are opened up.

“We have forged an incredible partnership with the Forest Service that is making our nation’s forests and grasslands healthier, optimal for wildlife and better for all citizens,” NWTF co-CEO Kurt Dyroff said. “We  are proud to recognize these exceptional and noteworthy partnerships and programs.”

About the National Wild Turkey Federation  

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has positively impacted over 23 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The NWTF has also invested over $9 million into wild turkey research to guide the management of the wild turkey population and to ensure sustainable populations into perpetuity. The organization continues to deliver its mission by working across boundaries on a landscape scale through its Four Shared Values: clean and abundant water, healthy forests and wildlife habitat, resilient communities, and robust recreational opportunities. With the help of its dedicated members, partners and staff, the NWTF continues its work to provide Healthy Habitats. and Healthy Harvests. for future generations. 

Filed Under:
  • Convention and Sport Show
  • Land Management