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~Award recognizes state land managers’ commitment to Florida’s environment~

David Jowers

David Jowers accepts the Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year award from Governor, the Florida Cabinet and staff.

TALLAHASSEE  Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet today signed three resolutions sponsored by Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam, honoring the recipients of the 2013 Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year Award. Each year, natural resource managers from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service’s Florida Forest Service, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are selected for this award—one of Florida’s highest environmental honors.

This year’s award recipients are David Jowers, park manager of DEP’s Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Charles “Bruce” Hill, Jacksonville district manager for the Florida Forest Service and Philip Manor, district biologist in the FWC’s northwest region.

The Jim Stevenson Resource Manager of the Year was established by DEP in 1992 to recognize the employee who is judged to have made the most significant progress in the stewardship of state lands that are actively managed by each of the three agencies. The award recipients are selected by a committee of environmental professionals representing the Sierra Club, Florida Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy.

“I’m proud to recognize David Jowers of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park as one of Florida’s top resource managers,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. “His outstanding service to DEP, the Florida Park Service and the people of Florida ensure that the remarkable natural resources in these parks will endure for future generations.”

About Jowers: David Jowers, park manager of Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, has served the Florida Park Service for 34 years and has provided service to eight different parks in four districts. His daily duties include managing Paynes Prairie Preserve, as well as Price’s Scrub and Gainesville- Hawthorne Trail, covering more than 23,000 acres of state land and 16 miles of trails. Additionally, David works with his team to conduct prescribed burns to prevent devastating wildfires in the ecosystem he manages. In the past year, his team burned more than 1,300 acres on 22 separate burns. They were the first team to ever conduct an aerial ignition. David has been instrumental in the $25 million wetland restoration project known as Sweetwater Branch Sheetflow Restoration. This has taken many years of pre-planning. The project will enhance 125 acres of wetlands and restore the sheetflow to nearly 1,300 acres of wetlands.

“Philip Manor has looked across agency boundaries to create effective conservation programs on 16 Wildlife Management Areas,” said FWC executive director Nick Wiley. “It’s no surprise Phil helped found the multi-agency Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance, dedicated to improving over 1 million acres in the Apalachicola River basin. Whether our residents and visitors are enjoying scenic paddling trails on the Apalachicola, Aucilla and Wacissa rivers or hunting on the Joe Budd Wildlife Management Area, Phil’s efforts have enhanced their experiences.” 

About Manor: Philip Manor, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission district biologist in the northwest region, leads efforts to restore and enhance wildlife habitat on FWC lead-managed and partnership lands. His efforts have not only transformed landscapes, but also helped create a diversity of nature-based recreation from nationally acclaimed paddling trails to high-quality wildlife viewing opportunities. Phil was instrumental in inspiring and organizing the Apalachicola Regional Stewardship Alliance, a consortium dedicated to enhancing management of natural resources on over 1 million acres in the Apalachicola River basin. He has led efforts to reestablish wetlands and restore hydrological flow in the Apalachicola River floodplain, the largest expanse of floodplain forest in Florida and one that protects, feeds and nurtures Apalachicola Bay. Within the Wildlife and Habitat Management Section of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, Phil leads a team of 18 biologists and technicians assigned to 16 Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) encompassing 980,000 acres, including 137,000 acres where FWC is the lead manager.

“The Florida Forest Service saves lives, homes and property from wildfires in every corner of the state. Our foresters manage more than 1 million acres of public forest land, offering unique recreational opportunities to Floridians and preserving the natural wildlife,” said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “I am proud to recognize Jacksonville District Manager Bruce Hill Jr., who served 31 years with the Florida Forest Service before his retirement this month. He was not only a dedicated resource manager, he was also a gifted teacher. By developing and implementing an interactive education program, he shared his knowledge and passion for Florida’s great outdoors with hundreds of others, and his legacy will live on for generations.”

About Hill: Charles “Bruce” Hill Jr. served 31 years in the Florida Forest Service before retiring as the Jacksonville District Manager this month. He oversaw all forestry operations in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties. He was the incident commander of the Florida State Interagency Gold Incident Management Team during the hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 and the Dairy Road Fire in 2007. Hill’s leadership led to the first cooperative deployment of a Florida Incident Management Team and an Urban Search and Rescue Team during Hurricane Ivan, and he was involved in developing forest management plans for four new forests – Jennings, Four Creeks, Belmore and Ralph Simmons. Additionally, Hill passed on his knowledge to the next generation, developing and implementing the Teachers Tour program to provide information on forestry to 445 public school teachers each year.