The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has received the honor of being the recipient of Arbor Day Foundation’s 2014 Forest Lands Leadership Award for its bottomland hardwood forest restoration program in West Tennessee.
The award is given annually to an individual or organization from across the nation whose outstanding work provides leadership in advancing sustainable forestry efforts on public forest land. The criteria for receiving this prestigious award are demonstrating initiative and leadership in sustainable forest programs, being a model for others to emulate, addressing a high need area, and having sustainable program building and development.
The TWRA and other 2014 award winners in several categories will be honored by colleagues, supporters, and friends at the Arbor Day Awards Ceremony on April 26 at the Lied Lodge and Conference Center in Nebraska City, Neb. Scheduled to be present to receive the award for TWRA are Brant Miller (Wildlife Forestry Program Manager), Damon Hollis (West Tennessee Wetlands Forester), and Jason Maxedon (Area Manager over Ernest Rice, Sr., Moss Island, and several other WMAs and refuges).
Approximately three million trees have been planted on a total of 6,800 acres of former row crop land since 2000, the year that Jason Maxedon was hired to develop and oversee TWRA’s bottomland hardwood restoration program. Damon Hollis took over in 2011, when Maxedon transferred to the area manager position. In addition to Hollis, the team includes the program’s longtime Wildlife Technician Sam Turner, Wildlife Forester Justin Hallett, and Wildlife Technician Josh Emerson.
Working with TWRA Region I personnel, the East Tennessee State Nursery and the University of Tennessee Tree Improvement Program, TWRA’s West Tennessee foresters annually restore 500-1,000 acres of bottomland hardwoods on TWRA-owned lands, with a greater than 80 percent seedling survival rate. In addition to several oak species, many other supplemental tree and shrub species are planted, as well, to promote a more natural forest composition. This has been accomplished with the help of generous grants from the Arbor Day Foundation, which have been approved for TWRA afforestation projects every year since 2010. These new forests will provide optimum habitat and mast, in an area where it is critically needed, ensuring sustainable management of various wildlife species for the benefit of Tennessee citizens and visitors.
TWRA’s goal is to connect the fragmented forests of West Tennessee into an uninterrupted travel corridor through which wildlife can fly, walk, and crawl freely. At a time when wildlife habitat is being lost to increasing urbanization, the TWRA is making strides in achieving this goal through its bottomland hardwood restoration program.