International Programs U.S. Forest Service 1 Thomas Circle NW Suite 400 Washington, DC 20005 Phone 202 644-4585 email@example.com U.S. Forest Service honors outstanding achievements in bird, bat, butterfly and dragonfly conservation Omaha, Nebraska, March 12, 2015 Last night, Cindi West, the Associate Deputy Chief for Research and Development, U.S. Forest Service, presided over the 2015 Wings Across the Americas Conservation Awards ceremony. The festive event was held as part of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. U.S. Forest Service employees and their partners are celebrated at the ceremony for their outstanding work in the conservation of birds, bats, butterflies and dragonflies. Migratory species play unique ecological roles, figure prominently in culture -and are intrinsically beautiful. The Forest Service invests heavily in protecting habitat for migratory species, many of which spend the winter in Latin America and the Caribbean. If habitats in these areas are not protected, the U.S. domestic investment in conservation is wasted. We work extensively in the winter ranges of many critical species to develop capacity to better manage the winter homes for these animals—a small investment with a big impact. Despite their value, many birds, bats, butterflies and dragonflies unfortunately continue to face a multitude of threats. The 2015 Awards ceremony was held at the 80th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference. Gregory Butcher, as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies, announced the winners for each of the following categories: 1. The Urban Communities in Conservation award went to the Greater Atlanta Pollinator Partnership: A Model for Urban Pollinator Conservation. This coalition of private and public partners has worked with communities in the Atlanta metropolitan Area to create and restore viable pollinator habitats by connecting private and publically-owned lands through habitat corridors. The partnership demonstrates what community engagement can achieve for conservation in urban settings. 2. The second award of the evening was in the category of Bat Conservation. The award went to Project EduBat – Education Taking Flight! The project advances bat conservation and management through robust environmental education efforts. The work taps the skills of the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Project Underground, National Cave and Karst Research Institute, Bat Conservation International, and Prince William County Schools. Together, they have developed a wealth of new curriculum materials and resources for both formal and non-formal educators, including the only existing activity about White-Nose Syndrome. 3. The Research Partnership Award went to the North American Bat Monitoring Program which tackles the unprecedented threats that bats face from habitat loss and fragmentation, white-nose syndrome, wind energy development, and climate change. The North American Bat Monitoring Program documents the impact of stressors on bat populations, identifies priority species for conservation actions, and measures the effectiveness of agencies’ conservation and management actions to mitigate stressors. Partners include the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Department of Defense, Canadian Wildlife Service, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, and Bat Conservation International, with assistance and input from many additional scientists and natural resource managers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom 4. The Habitat Management and Partnership Award went to Central and Southern Great Plains Migratory Bird Habitat Conservation. For more than two decades, the Rainwater Basin and Playa Lakes Joint Ventures have worked with partners to manage 200 million acres of native grassland, wetland, river and stream habitats for many important bird species across Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Through public-private engagement, the nearly 70 conservation organizations and government agencies involved in the Joint ventures have leveraged funding, addressed regional planning and landscape design, developed outreach and promotional materials, and collaborated with landowners to conserve the region’s bird species. 5. The Bird Conservation Award went to the Puerto Rican Parrot Recovery Milestone, to celebrate the wild breeding of Puerto Rican Parrots in a new area of the island. Partners include El Yunque National Forest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Puerto Rican Parrot recovery program, Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and private partners. Their work has laid the foundation for future parrot population growth and for managing human use conflicts. 6. And the final award went to the Latin American Reserve Manager Training Program (RESERVA) in the International Cooperation category. Started in 1989, the program was the first internationally focused, hands-on, protected area training program in Latin America. RESERVA graduates manage habitats throughout Latin America that are vital for migratory species that breed on U.S. national forests and grasslands and winter south of our borders. To date, RESERVA has graduated 458 professionals, representing 23 Latin American countries & several from 5 countries outside the region.