President Bush honored for conservation efforts

At the gathering to celebrate Bush, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) announced another $125,000 gift from Morris in Bush’s honor. This donation will be used to support RBFF’s new Hispanic outreach campaign. RBFF’s five-year plan is expected to increase awareness of fishing and boating among Hispanics, and engage the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population in these activities. Starting with a new Spanish-language microsite (Let’s Go Fishing), the campaign aims to motivate the Hispanic audience, especially children, to partake in the joys of fishing and boating.

Matt Connolly, president of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, presented a Monroe County Resolution and letter of support from Florida Governor Rick Scott to rename the Florida Keys’ “Little Basin” Flat to “Two Georges Flat.” The new name, a tribute championed by the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, would honor Bush and his close friend and legendary Florida Keys fishing guide, the late George Hommell Jr.

Bush and Hommell, who was a founding member of the Bonefish and Tarpon Trust, shared a deep love of fishing for Florida Keys bonefish, tarpon and permit as well as a passion for promoting better fisheries management and clean water.

George Dunklin Jr., president of Ducks Unlimited, also attended the event and presented Bush with a beautiful piece of waterfowl art, "Reydell Hole." He also shared a heartfelt letter from Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall, thanking Bush for his many conservation achievements. Hall, who served as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during George W. Bush’s presidency, outlined how Bush Sr. was responsible for conserving millions of acres across the United States.

Bush established the first national policy goal of “no net loss” of wetlands, which replaces any wetland newly affected by draining or developing with another wetland of the same size and function. Through that directive, hundreds of thousands of wetlands have been avoided, mitigated or replaced across the United States.

Another great conservation accomplishment heralded in Hall’s letter was the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), which was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by Bush in 1989. This legislation provided federal funding to implement the North American Waterfowl Management Plan in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Each federal dollar contributed through NAWCA is matched by $3 (on average) from partners such as Ducks Unlimited, private landowners, foundations, companies and other conservation groups. NAWCA is considered by many to be the most successful government/private partnership in existence today, having funded more than 2,250 projects on more than 26.9 million acres in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico.

In addition to Morris, Nussman, Connolly and Dunklin, those attending the event to pay tribute to Bush’s conservation legacy included Tom Bradbury, executive director of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust; and Ken Raynor, golf professional, avid angler and close friend of President Bush’s. Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, participated in the event by phone. The awards were presented to the president after he and the rest of the group enjoyed a great morning of fishing off the coast of Maine.