Ruffin Powers won the award in the individual category for management of his property, Powers Farm in Robeson County, in a manner beneficial to small game species, particularly bobwhite quail.
Murphy Brown LLC in Duplin County won the award in the organization/business category for work to improve wildlife habitats on its properties, which are located throughout southeastern North Carolina.
The awards, decided by the Commission's Small Game Committee, are named for former Wildlife Commissioner Larry Diedrick, a lawyer from Rocky Mount who died in 2002. Diedrick was a passionate hunter of doves, quail and other small game, as well as a strong advocate of sound wildlife conservation practices.
Powers, whose farm encompasses nearly 400 acres of managed agricultural fields and upland pine forests, was selected for promoting early succession habitat for the benefit of quail and other habitat-dependent species using a combination of management practices. These practices include no-till farming, warm-season grass establishment, disking, mowing, chemical control, woodland thinning, prescribed burning and field border maintenance.
He also has 13 acres enrolled in the CP33 program, a federal program that pays landowners to establish strips of vegetation along the edges of cropped fields to provide habitat suitable for quail, ring-neck pheasant and other upland birds.
"A visit to Powers' property and you can see the results of his dedication and enthusiasm in the management of small game," said Victor French, a coastal forest stewardship biologist with the Commission who nominated Powers. "Brooding, nesting, escape cover and foraging sites have been enhanced or created by his management work as evidenced by his harvest of 40 quail this season while maintaining six to 10 coveys."
Murphy Brown LLC was selected for improving quail and songbird habitat on its properties, specifically the Ammon Farm, located in Bladen County. Working cooperatively with the Wildlife Resources Commission, the company has set aside 50 acres of farmland to buffer waterways, which provides water quality and wildlife benefits, and to convert cropland to wildlife habitat. The company has also worked with the Commission and N.C. State University to determine the most effective habitat designs to benefit grassland and shrubland birds.
"We plan to continue our close working relationship with Murphy Brown and to use other demonstration sites on company farms to facilitate better wildlife management and water quality practices on the 270 company-owned farms and the 1,500-plus Murphy Brown contract farms in southeastern North Carolina," said Terry Sharpe, the Commission's agriculture liaison biologist.