2015 Award Winners

Meghan Dennison, Executive Director, Bayfield Regional Conservancy

Meghan’s leadership was essential to creating the Lake Superior Landscape Restoration Partnership. Located in the Lake Superior basin, the Partnership fosters collaboration across private, public and Tribal lands to develop and implement a shared vision of multi-species conservation. The Partnership has strong investments from local citizens and natural resource professionals as well as funding from the US Forest Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Meghan took outstanding initiative and leadership to develop the Partnership. As part of the Partnership Steering Committee and Outreach Team, her knowledge and insights are critical to strategic outreach efforts including developing and guiding locally effective approaches for citizen engagement. Meghan and her staff work closely with hundreds of private landowners by providing support, tools, information and technical expertise to help them meet their goals for their land. Meghan is critical to the Partnership’s on-the-ground conservation efforts to protect water quality, increase sustainably managed forest land, mitigate fire risk, and restore critical habitat for rare and sensitive wildlife species in the Lake Superior basin.

Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership

Kristin Haskins, Arboretum at Flagstaff; Jessica Gist, Arizona Game and Fish Department; Bruce Greco, Arizona Prescribed Fire Council; Aaron Green, Arizona State Forestry Division; Bruce Buttrey, Camp Navajo; Mark Brehl, City of Flagstaff Fire Department; Paul Hellenberg, City of Flagstaff Fire Department; Judy Weiss, Coconino County Community Development Department; Scott Harger, Coconino Natural Resource Conservation District; Josh Edwards, Cornerstone Environmental Consulting, LLC; Bryce Esch, Ecological Restoration Institute – Northern Arizona University; John Graham, Friends of the Rio; Dirch Foreman, Highlands Fire Department; Anne Mottek, Mottek Consulting; Paul Whitefield, National Park Service Flagstaff Area National Monuments; Davy Auty, Northern Arizona University; Rebecca Davidson, Salt River Projects; Annie Lutz, SWCA Environmental Consultants; Travis Wooley, The Nature Conservancy; Shaula Hedwall, US Fish and Wildlife Service; Jessica Richardson, US Forest Service Coconino National Forest

The Greater Flagstaff Forests Partnership is a 19-year-old collaborative comprised of twenty organizations focused on improving forest health, protecting communities from severe wildfire, and providing public education. The Partnership and Arizona State Forestry Division developed a land treatment map and collaboratively planned and facilitated implementation of forest treatments on over 110,000 acres of public/private land. As a result, recent fires that intersected with treated areas were more easily contained by emergency responders.

Since 2004, the Partnership was awarded $1 million in Arizona State Forestry Division cost share grants to treat approximately 2,000 acres of private land. The Partnership is developing a Standards of Treatment Landowner’s Guide based on fire modeling results. They also led a shift in public support for forest management through an interpretive trail and kiosk at Flagstaff Arboretum, the Yellow Belly Ponderosa children’s education program, and their fire adapted community learning network hub. The Partnerships’ efforts have culminated in two landscape scale initiatives – the Four Forests Restoration Initiative and the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.

Kentucky Triplett Creek Project

Bill Lorenz, USFS Daniel Boone National Forest; Karen Woodrich, USDA NRCS Kentucky; Gregory K. Johnson, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources; Leah MacSwords, Kentucky Division of Forestry; Cathy Boyd, Kentucky Chapter of The Nature Conservancy; Pam Williams, Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation District; Danny Blevins, Northeast Rowan County Firewise Council

A majority of the Triplett Creek Watershed is classified as Wildland Urban Interface with private homes adjacent to national forests. A partnership of federal and state agencies, non-profits, and local organizations is working to increase and engage local landowners in creating fire resilient communities while addressing forest health and hazardous fuel issues on public and private forest land in the watershed. In particular, they are using public and private partnerships to expand national forest management practices onto adjoining private lands. NRCS added wildfire prevention and control practices into the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) eligible practice list, and the Kentucky Department of Forestry provided grant money to local communities for non- EQIP eligible landowners.

Since its inception, the partnership has completed 20 acres of invasive plant treatments, 230 acres of treatments designed to improve water quality, 550 acres of treatments to enhance wildlife habitat, 450 acres of treatments to reduce hazardous fuels, and made 35 new private forest landowner contracts. Resource concerns are being addressed through EQIP contracts on 533 acres within the Triplett Creek Watershed. These landscape level activities are creating fire resilient communities, while improving wildlife habitat and water quality in the Triplett Creek Watershed.

Western Arkansas Woodland Restoration Project

Reggie Blackwell, Ozark-St. Francis National Forest; Norman Wagner, Ouachita National Forest; Michael Sullivan, USDA NRCS Arkansas; Joe Fox, Arkansas Forestry Commission; Mike Knoedl, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Becky Humphries, National Wild Turkey Federation; Scott Simon, The Nature Conservancy; Melvin Tobin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Robert Bevis, Jr., Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission; Rocky Harrell, Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts; Randy Young, Arkansas Natural Resources Commission; Jane Fitzgerald, Central Hardwood Joint Venture; Graham Rich, Central Arkansas Water.

Western Arkansas forests provide significant ecosystem services benefits to the public. Land-use conversion and fragmentation, development pressures, changes in species and stand structure, invasive species, and the exclusion of historic fire regimes are significantly reducing those services. The Western Arkansas Woodland Restoration Project is a collaboration of state and federal agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, focused on restoring ecosystems by reducing fuel loads, enhancing wildlife habitat on public and private lands, and creating employment opportunities in chronically impoverished counties. The joint venture also provides the tools and resources private landowners need to better manage their forests.

Since the project’s inception, the partners have written 107 landowner contracts to implement conservation practices on 13,939 acres, and provided technical assistance to thirteen landowners. Land treatments included: fuel reduction on 2,097 acres of wildland urban interface and 7,229 acres of non-wildland urban interface; 772 acres of forest vegetation improvements; 573 acres of timber sales; 9 acres of lake habitat improvements; 2.5 miles of riparian road decommissioning and restoration; 511 acres of soil and water resource improvements; 2 miles of fish habitat restoration; 509 acres of glade restoration; 2 cave gates installed; 33,847 acres of feral hog control; 1,843 acres of invasive species control; 24 acres of native cane restoration; and 453 acres of wildlife openings maintained.