FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2013
DACS Press Office, 850.617.7737
FWC Press Office, 850.488.8843
GOVERNOR, CABINET HONOR NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGERS OF THE YEAR
~Award recognizes state land managers’ commitment
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.
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
"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.