Liza Poinier: (603) 271-3211
John Kanter: (603) 271-2461
March 18, 2011
Three N.H. Biologists Receive U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award
CONCORD, NH – Wildlife biologists Heidi Holman and Lindsay Webb of the N.H. Fish and Game Department and Steve Fuller, formerly of Fish and Game, have received the 2010 Recovery Champion award from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for their work in restoring Karner blue butterflies and their habitat. The award, presented to the recipients today by Michael Amaral and Tom Chapman of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, recognizes Service employees and their partners-in-mission for conserving threatened and endangered species in the United States.“Recovery Champions are leaders in the conservation of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals across the United States and beyond its borders,” said Acting U.S. Fish & Wildlife Director Rowan Gould. “It is a true measure of a commitment to protect our nation’s biological heritage for future generations by working to recover our imperiled species of fish and wildlife and plants and the ecosystems on which they depend.” Of the 29 awards presented nationwide, the only other Northeast region recipient is Mark McCollough, who works for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Maine.
“The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and its partners work diligently to recover and conserve threatened and endangered species in the Northeast,” said Martin Miller, Northeast Region chief of endangered species. “Our champions, Heidi, Lindsay, Mark and Steve, have demonstrated exceptional dedication, have assumed leadership roles and established valuable conservation partnerships to significantly improve the status of our listed species.”
Steve Fuller, Heidi Holman and Lindsay Webb individually and collectively brought the endangered Karner blue butterfly in New Hampshire from the point of extirpation to its present status as restored in the wild and numbering in the hundreds to low thousands. In 2000, biologists working to assess populations in the state were able to find only one in the wild. That summer, Steve visited the Karner blue project as part of his related doctoral work in New York, and began to advise the state on what could be done to save the butterflies. A year later, he was hired as a biologist with N.H. Fish and Game’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
“With his recent research, work experience and practical knowledge, I was confident that Steve could lead a successful effort to recover New Hampshire’s Karner blues,” said John Kanter, Nongame Program coordinator. Over the next ten years, Steve worked with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the New Hampshire Army National Guard and other partners to develop and carry out Karner blue butterfly habitat restoration in scarce pine barrens habitat in Concord, N.H. Steve also devised a program to translocate and propagate butterflies from New York. While working for Fish and Game, Steve received his doctoral degree from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He now works for the Wildlife Management Institute.
Heidi Holman, who previously worked on Karner blue butterfly habitat restoration in Minnesota, joined New Hampshire’s recovery team as a biological aide in 2005. Two years later, Heidi became a full-time biologist and has since focused on habitat restoration and management on the project. One of her successes has been planning and conducting controlled burns on 113 acres of pine barrens, with partners from the City of Concord to the New Hampshire Division of Fire Standards and Training. Heidi, a New Hampshire native, received her master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of Minnesota.
Lindsay Webb also began working in 2005 as a biological aide on the Karner project, assisting with the surveys and habitat management, as well as taking on duties in the captive rearing lab. Lindsay began full-time biological work in 2007, when she took the lead on the translocation and propagation of the butterflies. Most recently, she led the effort to compile and publish a propagation handbook for the Karner blue butterfly, which is now in use at sites across the species’ range. Lindsay has recruited numerous volunteers to help with captive rearing, habitat plantings, and surveys. Lindsay received her master’s degree in science and environmental studies from Antioch University, New England.
Heidi, Lindsay and Steve have all been leaders in New Hampshire’s small but critical Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, working in communities to implement parts of the N.H. Wildlife Action Plan while bringing Karner blue butterflies back from the brink. The efforts of these three led to the success of a program where Karner blue butterflies were brought to the state from New York, successive generations were raised in captivity and groups were released into restored pine barrens habitat. In ten years, the team, with help from many partners, restored more than 314 acres of historic pine barrens; raised and released some 13,000 adult butterflies; and planted more than 50,000 nectar seedlings and 2 million seeds on 26 restoration plots.
The overall Karner blue population trend has been increasing, with a peak estimate of 2,500 butterflies for the summer brood in 2010.These biologists dedicated themselves to leading conservation partnerships with key agencies, including the New Hampshire Army Reserve National Guard, which provides the building for the breeding program; the Roger Williams Park Zoo, which assists in the captive rearing; the City of Concord, which owns the Concord Municipal Airport and the habitat where the program is focused; and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which manages a conservation easement property with habitat and butterflies. Learn more about Karner blue butterflies at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/projects/karner_project.html and www.fws.gov/northeast/factshee.html.###