The reintroduction of whooping cranes to Louisiana made national headlines, and the man, Robert Love, who spearheaded, then directed, then coordinated efforts of local, state and federal efforts was rewarded in late March.

Love, who manages the Coastal and Nongame Resources Division inside the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, received the Governor’s Award, the Conservationist of the Year for 2014, during the 51st Governor’s State Conservation Achievement Awards banquet in Baton Rouge. The program is sponsored by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation.

LWF president Barney Callahan lauded Love “... for his commitment to the restoration of the endangered whooping crane to its historic range and increasing public education and awareness.

“As a public servant at LDWF for the past 33 years, Bob Love has dedicated his career to wildlife conservation. His earlier work with LDWF included the successful restoration of the wild turkey and acquisition of nearly 80,000 acres of land for conservation across the state. In his current role at LDWF, he has been instrumental in establishing the whooping crane restoration program in Louisiana and building supportive partnerships with the private sector,” LWF executive director Rebecca Triche said in the announcement.

Others honored during the banquet included:

•Stacey Leah Scarce, from Lafayette, as the Conservation Professional of the Year for her outreach work in natural resource conservation education. The LWF said she launched the Acadiana Master Naturalist program and developed educational programs for the Acadiana Park Nature Station.

•The Bayou Vermilion Preservation Association of Lafayette claimed the Conservation Organization of the Year Award for, as the LWF panel of judges noted, its work on increasing awareness about water quality issues in the Bayou Vermilion Watershed through public seminars, a summit, a teacher training session, and a project to create an interactive story map using Geographic Information Systems of the watershed;

•Bossier City’s Adam and Lisa Willard received the Volunteer Conservationists of the Year Award for their leadership since “... in reducing the amount of trash in Red River to improve its aesthetic qualities, remove hazards for recreational enjoyment, and restore wildlife habitat, and recruiting nearly 300 volunteers to remove 7,400 pounds of trash from Red River;”

•LSU Ag Center’s Louisiana Master Farmer Program staff received the Conservation Educator of the Year Award after taking the lead in “... educating and certifying 205 agricultural producers to address conservation and sustainability planning on their agricultural lands;”

•Chevron USA took the Conservation Business of the Year for their commitment to the Whooping Crane Public Education/Awareness Initiative that funded education materials to teachers and outreach to the public via media and events during the continued reintroduction of whooping cranes in the state’s southwestern marshes;

Selections were made from nominations submitted by the public and a panel of independent judges with expertise in the fields of conservation, the environment and communication fields.

LDWF secretary Robert Barham gave details about Love’s work for the whooping crane project, noting Love put together the state’s team to partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Whooping Crane Recovery Team and the International Crane Foundation, along with the U.S. Geological Survey Research Center in Patuxent, Maryland that provided the initial and continued supply of cranes for the restoration effort.

Barham said Love was responsible for a team meeting management approach, the integrating of staff field biologists with LSU research biologists. He then produced formal education, public awareness and outreach programs, along with coordinating a field maintenance, veterinary and law enforcement staffs to insure the viability and sustainability of the project, and directed fundraising efforts that produced $1.5 million since 2011 to add to federal and state funding sources.

Louisiana stands tall

Ducks Unlimited wrapped up its local chapters’ 2014 assessment, and several Louisiana chapters, notably LSU’s Tiger Chapter and the South Lafourche Chapter, stood tall in national listings

The Tiger Chapter, also mentioned in the President’s Elite List, topped the list of what DU calls its “Sweet 16” of top volunteer university chapters across the country. Judging is based on fundraising and overall chapter strength, and each chapter must have raised at least $24,000 during 2014.

After LSU, second was the Aggieland Chapter from Texas A&M. Southeastern Louisiana University’s chapter came in at 16th on this list.

The South Lafourche High School Chapter tied with North Carolina’s Midway High School atop DU’s “Varsity All-Stars,” a top 10 list based on total event income, membership and efficiency ratings during 2014. It’s more than raising money, because youngsters are required to acquire “... a multitude of skill sets that will help them later in life,” according to the DU announcement.

Five Louisiana chapters made the Top 100 list for 2014, and 10 more made DU’s President’s Elite standings, the latter honoring volunteer chapters that raised more than $100,000 for the organization.

Included in the Top 100 list are DU of Terrebonne at 18th, Avoyelles Parish (39th), West Bank (41st), Upper Lafourche (60th) and Plaquemines Parish (68th). The top two chapters came from Minnesota’s Wood County and Fort Worth, Texas.

Atlanta and Houston chapters were among the top three on the President’s Elite List. Louisiana chapters dominated after that with Lafayette Area fourth and Shreveport 10th on that list, which also included New Orleans (32nd), Abbeville (34th), Baton Rouge (41st), Tiger (46th), St. Tammany West (51st), East Ascension (53rd), New Iberia (71st) and Southwest Louisiana (77th).

These lists follow on the heels of DU’s honoring the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission for the state’s 50-year commitment for waterfowl breeding habitat. Set by state statute, the LWFC controls funds derived from state hunting license sales and directs those funds, most years in the neighborhood of $300,000, to waterfowl habitat projects.

For most of the past 50 years, those funds have gone to Ducks Unlimited for work on Canadian breeding grounds. The state’s contributions during the past 50 years totals slightly more than $10 million.

Bistineau meetings

South Louisiana anglers who enjoy fishing Lake Bistineau’s scenic cypress-studded shoreline should take note that the LDWF will conduct informational meetings to explain recent a update in the status of the Lake Bistineau Management Plan. The meetings are set for 6:30 p.m. April 20-21 at the LDWF’s Region 1 office, 9961 U.S. 80 in Minden. Space is limited to 100 per meeting.

The Lake Bistineau Management Plan is available on the LDWF’s website: www.wlf.louisiana.gov/fishing/waterbody-management-plans-inland.