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franklin county times

Mississippi landowner wins wetlands award

By By James L. Cummins / special to The Star
June 25, 2004
Jack Branning of Vicksburg, and a member of Wildlife Mississippi, has won the 2004 National Wetlands Award for Landowner Stewardship. He was honored at a ceremony on May 20th at the Senate Caucus Room in Washington, D.C. in recognition of his efforts to restore wetlands on a 3,498-acre farm.
Branning enrolled his entire farm in the permanent protection of the Natural Resources Conservation Service's (NRCS) Wetlands Reserve Program. With help from NRCS and Wildlife Mississippi, Branning developed an intensive restoration plan that maximizes habitat for migratory birds and other wetland-dependent species by providing a diversity of wetland types, including seasonally flooded bottomland hardwoods, moist-soil wetlands, emergent marshes, shrub/scrub wetlands and deepwater habitat.
Although the restoration construction was completed in 2003, Branning, with part-time help, devotes more than 900 hours annually to wetland management. The property now boasts 2,675 acres of naturally flooded bottomland hardwoods and 757 acres of manageable wetlands. He has forested habitat for at least 43 different species of waterfowl, shorebirds and wading birds, including threatened wood storks and bald eagles. His efforts have also significantly increased the habitat of the adjacent Delta National Forest and the soon to be Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge.
Since 1989, the National Wetlands Award program has honored exceptional individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary effort, innovation and excellence in wetland conservation, research, or education through programs or projects at the regional, state, or local level. The program is co-sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
We are grateful for the exceptional efforts of Mr. Branning. His efforts to protect and preserve our nation's wetlands help sustain healthy aquatic habitats for diverse species of plants, fish and wildlife. The well-being of natural communities is essential to the quality of life in Mississippi.
James L. Cummins is Executive Director of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation in Stoneville, Mississippi. Known as "Wildlife Mississippi," the Foundation is a non-profit, conservation organization founded to conserve, restore and enhance fish, wildlife and plant resources throughout Mississippi. Their web site is www.wildlifemiss.org.

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