President Bush honored for conservation efforts

President George H. W. Bush
President George H.W. Bush, front, was honored for his conservation efforts while in office. In attendance were, from left, Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops; Matt Connolly, Bonefish and Tarpon Trust; George Dunklin Jr., Ducks Unlimited; and Mike Nussman, ASA.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine – Helping former President George H.W. Bush continue to celebrate his 90th birthday, a group of conservation leaders, headed by Bass Pro Shops founder and CEO Johnny Morris, gathered to go fishing with President Bush and to honor him for his lifetime commitment to conservation.

“All of us at Bass Pro Shops are proud to stand beside key conservation partners today to pay tribute to President Bush for everything he has done to uphold our hunting and fishing traditions as well as for his work to restore and enhance wildlife and fisheries habitat,” Morris said. “Most people aren’t fully aware of all that President Bush has done for conservation. During his presidency, he established 56 new wildlife refuges, more than even President Theodore Roosevelt, conserving more than 3 million acres of nationally significant public land.

“It is an honor to present my longtime friend with Bass Pro Shops Lifetime Conservation Achievement Award. President Bush is a remarkable man who has had an immeasurably profound, positive impact on our nation’s fish and wildlife resources. He is a passionate fisherman and sportsman whose well-known love of fishing has made him one of the best ambassadors the sport of fishing has ever had.”

Johnny Morris has witnessed firsthand Bush’s love of the great outdoors and his long-term commitment to the environment during many fishing trips with the president includingremote tent camp outings to Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada; trips to the Arctic’s Tree River; the fabled River Test; bass fishing in Alabama; trout fishing in the Ozarks; and striper fishing in Maine.

Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of theNational Fish and Wildlife Foundation, used the June 17, 2014, event to announce a partnership to provide a $1 million gift to the new President George H.W. Bush Conservation Fund. Created to recognize the president’s lifelong commitment to natural resource conservation, the Fund will support conservation projects that are important nationally and that can produce significant benefits for fish, wildlife and their habitats. The Fund’s first effort, supported by Bass Pro Shops and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will go to support the Penobscot River Fish Recovery and Habitat Restoration project. This $2 million initiative will benefit important Atlantic Coast fish species including Atlantic salmon, river herring and American shad.

Another honor bestowed upon Bush at the celebration was the KeepAmericaFishing Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his leadership and lifelong personal commitment to recreational fishing and the conservation of our nation’s fisheries and wetlands. This is the sportfishing industry’s inaugural award and is named for the former president. The award was presented by Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), on behalf of the recreational fishing industry and the nation’s 60 million anglers. ASA is the parent organization of KeepAmericaFishing, which was launched in 2010 as a way for anglers to get involved in advocating for clean water, abundant fish populations and plenty of places to go fishing.