Field & Stream Names Conservation Heroes

Field & Stream announced the 2008 Heroes of Conservation on Aug. 25, recognizing seven honorees dedicated to the grassroots protection of fish, wildlife, and habitat.

"Sportsmen don't just talk about protecting wildlife and wild places," says Anthony Licata, editor. "They actually do it. What makes The Heroes of Conservation Awards so special is we're honoring the hunters and fisherman who are already doing hard grassroots conservation work, while also inspiring a lot more people to get involved and do their part."

The seven heroes will be celebrated at the third annual gala, sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on Sept. 25. Field & Stream—along with special guests Dirk Kempthorne, U.S. secretary of the Interior, and H. Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—will recognize the heroes. Each nominee will receive a $5,000 grant from Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. to support their conservation projects, and one of the honorees will be named Field & Stream's Conservation Hero of the Year and will win a new Toyota Tundra.

The 2008 Heroes of Conservation are Andy Batcho of Seattle, Wash.; Hod Kosman of Scottsbluff, Neb.; Charles Lane of Charleston, S.C.; Chad Pregracke of East Moline, Ill.; Dale Rollins of San Angelo, Texas; James and Sandra Tripp of Old Lyme, Conn.

In 1983, Batcho became president of his local Trout Unlimited salmon chapter and quickly went to work building a salmon hatchery with a sewer company in order to restore salmon runs. Since he started this work, the local salmon population has gone from nonexistent to more than 400. "In the 1920s, there were around 1,000 salmon in these streams," says Batcho. "So, I guess I'm about 40 percent done."

Kosman helped form Platte River Basin Environments Inc. to honor the memory of his friend by using his bequest to provide more land access for the hunting and fishing public. Since 1990, he has helped acquire 28,000 acres of public land, overseen the reintroduction of bighorn sheep and elk, and improved wetland habitat for migratory birds.

In 1989, Lane helped found the ACE Basin Project. "It's a unique partnership where we have hunting and other conservation groups usually associated with anti-hunting working to preserve this area for traditional land uses, which includes hunting," says Lane. The ACE Basin Project has protected more than 172,000 acres including 40,000 acres of public hunting land.

After years of seeing massive amounts of garbage in the Mississippi River, Pregracke set out to clean the 100-mile stretch in the Quad Cities region of Iowa and Illinois. In 1998, he formed Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) and expanded his project to 435 miles of river from St. Louis, Mo., to Guttenberg, Iowa. In the past 10 years, Pregracke has undertaken his work with LL&W full-time and is working with corporate sponsors and thousands of volunteers to clean up four rivers in nine states.

In 1992, Rollins started the Bobwhite Brigade, a summer camp to educate children on quail conservation, habitat management, and leadership development. Last year, he became the director of the new Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch. Rollins hopes to use the 4,700 acres to study quail nesting patterns, survival, and nutritional needs.

James and Sandra Tripp formed the Tributary Mill Conservancy to restore Atlantic salmon and herring to the Connecticut River area. The Conservancy has become a center for rearing fry and educating the public. Since 2004, they have raised more than 200,000 salmon fry for stocking, provided a protected environment for the annual herring runs, and worked with local middle and high school students to get them involved in conservation projects.

To see the heroes in action, visit www.fieldandstream.com/heroes.

Judges for the awards are Anthony Licata, Field & Stream editor; Michael Nussman, American Sportfishing Association president and chief executive officer; Matt Hogan, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies executive director; and Brian Maguire, 2007 Field & Stream Conservation Hero of the Year.

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