Ohioans Receive State's Top Conservation Honor

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COLUMBUS, OH - The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) today awarded its highest honor to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the protection and enjoyment of the state's natural resources. Jack Vodrey was inducted into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame. Other Hall of Fame recipients this year include Jack Fishburn, owner of Cardinal Shooting Center in Marengo, and Bob and Hope Taft, former governor and first lady of Ohio.

Vodrey has spent more than 40 years advocating for the conservation of lands along the Little Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River. As owner of Beaverkettle Farms, he has placed more than 1,600 acres of conservation easements on his lands to further protect the area. Vodrey has hosted numerous hikes, canoe floats, clean-ups and other educational activities, including the annual Max Gard hike.

Fishburn has turned his small shooting range into one of the largest private ranges in the world, complete with campground, retail space and the ability to host national shooting championships here in Ohio. Fishburn has been instrumental in furthering the mission of shooting sports, promoting outdoors education and providing generations of Ohioans with a way to connect and grow in appreciation of the great outdoors.

Former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and Ohio First Lady Hope Taft have a long history of public service in Ohio, and they have spent much of their time on conservation efforts in our state to preserve natural resources for future generations. Both have led efforts specifically in the Little Miami River region, to create the Little Miami Scenic Trail, and they founded the Little Miami River Kleeners, a group who maintains the river.

ODNR also presented its annual Cardinal Award for conservation achievement to Gary Winterburn, manager of Beaverkettle Farms. Jane Beathard, outdoor news reporter, the Wilds and Ducks Unlimited have also been chosen to receive this reward.

Winterburn’s management of more than 4,000 acres of land surrounding Little Beaver Creek has always kept the State and Nationally Designated Wild and Scenic River in mind to reduce erosion from trails and logging practices. Winterburn has planted thousands of trees, organized clean-up activities and written books on the history and importance of the area “so that future generations may enjoy the pleasures that were taken for granted by generations of the past.”

Beathard is one of the state’s most prolific outdoor writers, covering topics from Ohio’s forests, parks, natural areas, wildlife and water issues. Because of her efforts over the years, more people are encouraged to get outside and to enjoy the wide range of tremendous natural assets found throughout Ohio.
The Wilds is built on reclaimed coal mine land. This land has been used since the 1980s "to lead and inspire by connecting people and wildlife." By highlighting environmental impacts to animals found in Africa and Asia, the Wilds also reminds us about environmental issues here at home.

Ducks Unlimited’s efforts in Ohio span the entire state, from restoring depleted wetlands in the northwest, protecting intact wetlands in the northeast and conserving land along the vital Scioto River corridor. Through their Great Lakes Initiative, Ducks Unlimited addresses multiple habitat types and provides abundant resources for breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl. Additionally, their Big Rivers Initiative focuses on the restoration, enhancement and protection of wetlands used by millions of waterfowl as they migrate between wintering and breeding grounds each year.

The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame was established by ODNR in 1966. The award recognizes a lifetime devoted to the preservation, protection and wise management of Ohio's natural resources. Previous Hall of Fame honorees include the legendary Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), Ohio-born explorer John Wesley Powell, botanist Lucy Braun and conservationist/novelist Louis Bromfield.

The department’s Cardinal Awards honor individuals and organizations demonstrating exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department's mission statement.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.
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