Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Regional Director Dennis David on Wednesday, June 27, received a high honor at the Commission meeting in Palm Beach Gardens. The Florida Sportsmen’s Conservation Association recognized David with the Wildlife Resource Management Achievement Award.
This award recognizes a conservationist who has exemplified the highest principles of good public relations and strong leadership to achieve a significant impact for conservation.
The Florida Sportsmen’s Conservation Association chose David for the award primarily because of his work on the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area, a new national wildlife refuge in central Florida. David’s leadership helped ensure that public access, including hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing, are provided as requested by stakeholder groups.
“David’s involvement was critical in turning a negative situation into a positive outcome,” said Todd Hallman, Florida Sportsmen’s Conservation Association board member. “He worked tirelessly with stakeholders, making sure everyone involved was fully informed of the process.”
David’s leadership helped formulate an unprecedented agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the FWC. This formal agreement allows the FWC to pass rules and manage public hunting access on the planned purchase of 50,000 acres of public lands brought into the federal refuge.
“More than once, David’s leadership skills were put to the test,” said Hallman. “He excelled at keeping all parties seated at the same table and united toward a common goal.”
“It is an honor to work with the sportsmen to play a positive role in establishing the only new national wildlife refuge in Florida added during my 38-year career with the FWC,” David said.
The new refuge will have “tremendous” conservation benefits for the diverse fish and wildlife resources in this part of the state, he added, as well as provide sportsmen with considerable new hunting opportunities.
“It was because of the commitment and perseverance of the sportsmen’s groups that we gained the widespread support of the hunting and conservation community and private ranches in the area necessary to make this refuge a reality,” David said. “We built bridges and forged new partnerships, and everyone came away with a broader understanding of the gains that come from working together. We’ll continue to invite additional conservation groups to partner in this effort.”
David was born in Coral Gables and grew up in the Miami area. He earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of South Florida in 1974 and immediately started a career with Florida’s then-Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission (now the FWC). David served as a biologist, focusing most of his career on alligator biology. In 2001, he became the regional director for the FWC’s Northeast Region. As such, David represents the executive director’s office, addressing legislative issues and serving as a liaison with other government agencies, conservation and sportsmen’s groups and the public.
David is set to retire from the FWC this year but will likely remain involved with the project, as he is passionate about conservation.
The Florida Sportsmen’s Conservation Association [not affiliated with Florida Sportsman Magazine --Ed.] was founded in June 1994 by a group of sportsmen who shared a vision for creating a conservation organization that would serve the needs of modern outdoorsmen and their families.