The Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch was recently awarded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Military Conservation Partner Award.
"On behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), I congratulate you on your selection as the recipient of our 15th annual Military Conservation Partnership Award," wrote Assistant USFWS Director for Fish and Aquatic Conservation David Hoskins in a letter to Fort McCoy's senior commander, 88th Readiness Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Jody J. Daniels announcing the award.
"This award recognizes significant natural resource management achievements by military installations, particularly the conservation of important wildlife and their habitats through cooperative work with the (USFWS) and other partners.
"Fort McCoy is an outstanding example of the conservation contributions that military instal-lations make across the nation," the letter states.
New NRB Chief Tim Wilder, who was previously the endangered species biologist for Fort McCoy, said many efforts contributed to his team earning the award.
"This is a reflection of the team effort - the many partners it takes to be successful in managing the myriad of resources entrusted to our care," Wilder said.
The team, Wilder said, includes everyone within the Natural Resources Branch including former NRB Chief Mark McCarty who recently retired); all of the employees working on the installation through Colorado State University Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands agreement who completed much of the on-the-ground work; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security personnel; volunteers; and USFWS and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) employees who either assisted with surveys or worked behind the scenes to ensure funding was secured for projects.
"We are very proud of the positive relationship we have with both the USFWS and WDNR," Wilder said.
"The relationship has been built over many years and is based on trust. They trust us to do what we say we will do. It is always gratifying to be recognized for the work you do - especially when that recognition comes from one of the agencies responsible for overseeing that work."
The USFWS recognized those Fort McCoy relationships as well.
"Your partnerships with the (USFWS) and the state of Wisconsin are protecting and restoring four federally and 33 state-listed species," Hoskins' letter states. "Aggressive habitat restoration and management activities on Fort McCoy are providing conservation benefits that reach beyond the installation fence line."
Fort McCoy completed 107 high-priority projects scheduled during the most recent annual conservation planning review, exceeding a 98 percent completion rate.
"Recently, your Natural Resources Branch partnered with the (USFWS) and WDNR to remove the failing West Silver Wetland Dam and completed over a half mile of stream habitat enhancement," the letter states. "Fort McCoy has met recovery goals for Karner blue butterfly and, through partnerships with the (USFWS) and WDNR, is ensuring continued progress toward delisting.
"We are moved by your efforts to provide hunting and fishing opportunities for youth and disabled people," the letter further states. "Because of your commitment, you are successfully conserving rare species and providing robust outdoor recreation programs to the public, all while achieving success in your military mission."
In the awards submission letter, other efforts by NRB were also noted.
Some of those additional efforts include supporting research projects, such as:
• a grasshopper sparrow geo-locator study looking at determining migration routes and over-wintering locations.
• research looking at the fungal relationships between Pennsylvania sedge and surrounding vegetation.
• a snake fungal disease study.
• western slender glass lizard research aiming to understand chemical signaling and divergence among isolated populations.
• prairie fame flower DNA sequencing.
• research dealing with conspecific attraction as a management tool for endangered and at-risk species.
"The golden-winged warbler, a species currently undergoing a status review, was one of the target species of this research," Wilder said.
A presentation date for the USFWS award is being planned for later in 2019.
(The Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch contributed to this article.)