A True Conservation Champion

The IWJV is pleased to share that Jim Stutzman is the recipient of a 2018 Wetlands Conservation Achievement Award! Jim was recently honored by Ducks Unlimited for dedicating his federal career to collaborative conservation.

Jim contributed greatly to a new brand of community-based conservation during his quarter century leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in Montana. After 35 years of service and many significant accomplishments, he retired from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2012, but his dedication to conservation didn’t end there. Shortly after his retirement (now affectionately referred to as his “first” retirement), the Intermountain West Joint Venture (IWJV) hired Jim as a Habitat Delivery Specialist. With Jim’s help and financial support from Oregon Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the IWJV launched the Southern Oregon–Northeastern California (SONEC) Working Wet Meadows Initiative in 2014. Jim effectively established and led the initiative by building relationships with landowners and partnering with federal, state, and local conservation organizations to conserve flood-irrigated working wet meadows on private lands in this critical migration stopover area for the Pacific Flyway that hosts up to 5 million waterfowl during spring migration.

Under Jim’s leadership, this new initiative quickly evolved into a large-scale endeavor supported by an extensive conservation partnership. Thanks to support from Oregon NRCS and an array of incredible conservation partners, many science-based successes were achieved through the initiative and laid the foundation for continued investments by private landowners, agencies, and conservation organizations in this precious place and beyond. Jim’s nurturing of the initiative resulted in noteworthy accomplishments for working lands conservation in the SONEC region, including:

•building support for and establishing two field-based partner biologists in NRCS Field Offices;

•securing Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding to the tune of $2.6 million and leveraging $4.45 million in partner contributions;

•establish the IWJV’s first staff presence in this key landscape through a jointly funded SONEC Working Wetlands Conservation Delivery Coordinator position funded by the IWJV, Oregon NRCS, and the FWS Region 8 Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program;

•expanding implementation of the initiative from southern Oregon into northeastern California with federal and local partner support;

•obtaining an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board grant in partnership with local organizations; and

•helping partners obtain additional North American Wetland Conservation Act funding.

“Jim Stutzman is the consummate team player that committed his career to building trust and credibility with private landowners and key stakeholders,” said Dave Smith, IWJV Coordinator. “In his time with the IWJV, Jim’s work in bringing people together to forge a shared vision around working wetlands conservation in SONEC truly represents a legacy achievement. Thanks to his leadership and perseverance we now have a landscape-level initiative that will help sustain ranching families and waterfowl populations for many generations – and a great story to tell about ranchers, irrigated agriculture, migratory birds, and collaborative conservation – that paved the way for the IWJV’s emerging Water 4 Initiative across the Intermountain West. Above all, Stutz is one of the most humble, patient, and genuine conservation professionals I’ve ever worked with and I am proud to call him a lifelong friend. This award couldn’t have been presented to a finer person than Jim Stutzman”

Jim celebrated his “second” retirement in 2017 after having built a strong foundation and model program for working lands conservation in the Intermountain West. The IWJV congratulates Jim on his well-deserved achievement award and wishes him a happy, healthy and relaxing “final” retirement.