WICHITA, Kan. — Indiana’s Healthy Rivers INitiative and DNR deer research biologist Chad Stewart were honored with awards at the Midwest Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies director’s meeting this week in Wichita, Kan.
Healthy Rivers received MAFWA’s Excellence in Conservation Award, which recognizes a specific project exemplifying the goal of fish and wildlife conservation.
Stewart received the organization’s Wildlife Biologist of the Year Award, which is given to an individual showing unparalleled initiative toward better understanding of wildlife and their conservation.
MAFWA is a regional organization of fish and wildlife agencies from 13 states and three Canadian provinces. It was formed in 1934 to provide a common forum for state and provincial agencies to share ideas and information, pool resources, and form action initiatives to improve management and conservation of fish and wildlife resources in the Midwest.
Announced in 2010 by Gov. Mitch Daniels, Healthy Rivers identified two distinct ecological river corridors — the Wabash River/Sugar Creek and Muscatatuck River — for landscape-scale conservation projects.
Healthy Rivers was designed to enhance, restore and protect a combined 70,000 acres in the two corridors. Working in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Indiana Heritage Trust, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, and other partners, the DNR has secured protection for 30,000 acres in the first two years of the project.
Stewart was nominated for the Wildlife Biologist of the Year Award for his role in developing and defending the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife’s five-year strategy and rule changes for managing white-tailed deer in Indiana. At the same time, Stewart accomplished a number of other projects, including response to a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in cattle in southern Indiana, securing a $47,000 grant to fund surveillance testing for chronic wasting disease in deer, completing a comprehensive survey of deer hunters, working with division biologists and local communities on deer-related issues, launching the GiveIN Game venison donation program, and authoring papers for professional journals.