Archived Outdoors

WNC represented in conservation awards

Two Western North Carolina people and organizations were recognized in this year’s Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards, presented by the N.C. Wildlife Federation.

The 59th annual awards honor 18 recipients, including the yet-to-be-announced winners of wildlife enforcement and marine patrol officers of the year.

“Each year, we’re amazed by the commitment and creativity of North Carolinians working to protect the wildlife, air, water and land we all depend on,” said T. Edward Nickens, NCWF awards committee chair. “This year’s conservation heroes are land stewardship champions, water advocates and leaders in the preservation of unique ecosystems — and we’re thrilled to be able to honor them in person at our banquet this year.”

The Asheville-based professional forestry nonprofit EcoForesters was named Conservation Organization of the Year for its work to conserve and restore Appalachian forests in North Carolina through stewardship, education and collaboration. By assisting landowners with ecologically sustainable forest management plans and addressing invasive plants, Ecoforesters empowers and supports forest stewardship while bridging gaps in agency capacity.

Brandon Jones of Fontana Dam was named Public Lands Conservationist of the Year. Jones launched a successful cleanup effort for Lake Fontana, removing more than 200,000 pounds of trash from the lake and its shoreline in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Through partnerships with organizations like the Wildlife Federation and Mainspring Conservation Trust, the initiative has made a significant impact and inspired others to take ownership of the cleanup, making it the most extensive cleanup on national park lands.

Award winners will be honored during a banquet Saturday, Sept. 9, in Cary.

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