Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Founder of Habitat Initiative honored

ROOSEVELT — A former director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been honored by the agency he led.

The Division recently changed the name of its Mallard Springs Wildlife Management Area to the Kevin Conway Wildlife Management Area. The agency chose Mallard Springs because Conway, who began his career as a conservation officer in Roosevelt, loved this area of Utah.

The 270-acre Kevin Conway WMA is near Myton, about 10 miles southwest of Roosevelt.

Kevin Christopherson, regional supervisor for the Division, says Conway worked his way through the ranks after starting his career as a conservation officer in Roosevelt.

In 2002, he became the agency's director.

"In 2004, after losing his battle with cancer, his family brought him back to Roosevelt to be buried," Christopherson says. "Renaming the wildlife management area after him is our way of recognizing his commitment and his accomplishments over his career. It's also fitting as Kevin loved this area, and the WMA is close to Roosevelt."

Restoring one million acres
While locals still talk about Conway's ability to catch poachers by being in the right place at the critical time, he's better known for his habitat enhancement work.

As an assistant director, Conway worked closely with state, federal and private organizations. As soon as he became director in 2002, he launched the most ambitious wildlife-habitat-enhancement project ever undertaken in Utah.

"Kevin launched the Habitat Initiative," Christopherson says, "a far-reaching plan to protect, restore and enhance more than one million acres of sagebrush steppe and riparian (streamside) habitat across Utah."

Christopherson says Conway wasn't the first to enhance wildlife habitat in Utah. But he was the most successful at bringing a variety of governmental and private organizations together to get the job done.

"He formalized the process to combine efforts, obtain funds and prioritize projects through the Habitat Council, an interagency steering committee," Christopherson says. "The initiative is proving to be one of the most successful programs of its kind in the West."

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