News Release

For Immediate Release
Lee Walker, (804) 912-6121

NOTE: This news release was distributed on 10/16/2012. The information below may no longer be the most up-to-date information available, or may pertain solely to events that occurred in the past. Please contact the person listed as the contact person for this release for the most current information.

Clarence W. Watson Award Given to David Whitehurst

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) is proud to announce David K. Whitehurst, Director, Bureau of Wildlife Resources, has been awarded the prestigious Clarence W. Watson Award at the 66th Annual Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies October 2012 Conference held at Hot Springs, Arkansas. This recognition was given to recognize Whitehurst's outstanding contribution to wildlife conservation.

A North Carolina native, David received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from North Carolina State University. During his 38-year career at the VDGIF, David Whitehurst has been instrumental in bringing science-based management to the Commonwealth's fisheries and wildlife conservation programs. His numerous conservation achievements include: restoring and enhancing the striped bass programs at Kerr Reservoir and Smith Mountain Lake, which have provided excellent public fishing opportunities; driving the acquisition of the Department's Stewarts Creek Wildlife Management Area; establishing the 845-acre Briery Creek Lake, which has become a premier largemouth bass fishery; taking a leading role in efforts to restore waterways for anadromous fish, including the breaching of the Embrey Dam on the Rappahannock River; establishing a fishway on Bosher's Dam on the James which opened hundreds of miles of river to spawning fish; establishing the Virginia Master Naturalist Program; developing the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, which provides wildlife viewing opportunities while bringing in millions in tourism dollars to the communities through which trail loops run; developing the Virginia Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive plan which documents species of greatest conservation need in Virginia; and establishing the Aquatic Wildlife Conservation Center to propagate and recover endangered aquatic species.

He is also the recipient of a number of awards and honors, including the River Conservationist of the Year award from the Virginia Wildlife Federation and the Conservationist of the Year award from Trout Unlimited in 1993. In 1997, he was recognized by WWBT TV in Richmond for his efforts to restore anadromous fish populations in the James River, and in 1999 he received the Professional Service Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. The Virginia Society of Ornithology recognized his contributions to bird conservation and the development of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail in 2002. In 2004, he received the Coastal America Partnership Award from President Bush for his efforts as a team leader in a multi-organization project to remove Embrey Dam from the Rappahannock River. In 2005, he received the Dr. Henry S. Mosby Award from the Virginia Chapter of The Wildlife Society for outstanding contributions to the wise management of Virginia's wildlife resources; and he was given a Special Recognition Award from Watchable Wildlife, Inc., for the establishment of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail.

In making the announcement regarding the Watson Award, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Executive Director Bob Duncan said, "David Whitehurst is the consummate professional and it is especially gratifying to see David's contributions recognized in this fashion. In my opinion, this award is richly deserved by David."

The Clarence W. Watson Award is the most prestigious conservation award given in the Southeast and is presented to the career individual who, in the opinion of the award committee, has made the greatest contribution to wildlife or fisheries conservation during the previous year or years in areas such as research, administration, law enforcement, Information and Education, or wildlife and fisheries management. Preference is given to nominees in the Southeast. David Whitehurst joins former VDGIF Director Chester Phelps (1971) and VDGIF Game Warden John Crumb (1968) as fellow Virginian recipients of the Clarence W. Watson Award.

A photo of Mr. Whitehurst is available upon request.