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


Matt Allen (above) is park manager at Grayton Beach and Deer Lake state parks. Justin Ellenberger (below) is lead area biologist on the Guana Wildlife Management Area.

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 Matthew A. Allen, park manager of DEP’s Deer Lake and Grayton Beach state parks; Florida Forest Service forestry supervisor Chris Colburn of Lake Talquin State Forest and biologist Justin Ellenberger of FWC’s Guana River Wildlife Management Area.

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.

“Florida’s state parks are home to many of our state’s most valuable natural resources, and the Panhandle area state parks preserve unique coastal forest ecosystems, a variety of wildlife and pristine coastal dune lakes” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr. “I’m proud to recognize Matt Allen of Grayton Beach and Deer Lake state parks as one of Florida’s top resource managers. His outstanding service to DEP, the Florida Park Service and the people of Florida ensure that the remarkable natural resources in these Panhandle parks will endure for future generations.”

About Allen: Matt Allen, park manager of Grayton Beach and Deer Lake state parks, has served the Florida Park Service for 22 years promoting to Assistant Manager at Grayton Beach in 2002, and then to Park Manager in of 2012.  Allen was honored for his commitment to improving water quality in the park streams and unique coastal dune lakes; installing and improving firebreaks to enhance the prescribed fire program; and restoring disturbed sandhill and wet prairie habitats that support imperiled gopher tortoises and the endemic Gulf Coast lupine.

"Justin Ellenberger has done a masterful job of managing fish and wildlife habitats at Guana River Wildlife Management Area, while making sure the property is open and accessible to the public for fish and wildlife-oriented recreation," said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “As a steward of the land, water and wildlife on the 9,815-acre public property near St. Augustine, his efforts also contribute to Florida’s tourism industry by providing an excellent destination for people to enjoy fish and wildlife."

About Ellenberger: Justin Ellenberger has worked on the Guana WMA in St. Johns County for 11 years, nine of those as lead area biologist. In that time, he has worked with stakeholders and communities on efforts to restore, enhance and manage habitats to maintain or increase wildlife populations of imperiled species like the gopher tortoise, wood stork and roseate spoonbill; and maintained healthy populations of nongame wading birds and game animals like quail, turkey and waterfowl. He did this with prescribed fire, mechanical shrub removal and cycles of drawdowns and flooding of impoundments. Plus, by obtaining funds to build infrastructure, he enhanced nature-based recreation on the WMA where people can now view wildlife, fish, hunt, kayak, hike and ride horses.

“The Florida Forest Service manages more than 1 million acres of public forest land. Our foresters keep millions of people safe from wildfires, provide unique recreational opportunities and teach children and adults about the bounty of the state’s public lands,” said Commissioner Putnam. “I am thrilled to recognize Forestry Supervisor Chris Colburn for his work to protect and improve our state lands and teach others how to enjoy what Florida has to offer.”

About Colburn: Chris Colburn is the Florida Forest Service’s Forestry Supervisor on Lake Talquin State Forest, which consists of 19,384 acres in Leon, Gadsden, Liberty and Wakulla counties. His dedication to excellence has helped develop improved prescribed fire and recreational programs on the state forest land. He also oversees the Bear Creek Educational Center, which provides outdoor educational opportunities for many local schools. Through monitoring the hardwood timber market, Colburn has been able to convert areas at Lake Talquin back to native longleaf pine while generating state revenue rather than paying significant costs for restoration. He has also secured mitigation funds from a nearby project that allowed the park to reforest 145 acres, develop five acres of wildlife food plots and 38 acres of hydrologic restoration.


Chris Colburn (above) is the Florida Forest Service's Forestry Supervisor on Lake Talquin State Forest.