Rice producers recently honored Dave White, former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, for his innovative conservation achievements.
White was presented with the fourth annual USA Rice Federations’ Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award at the 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference held in Saint Louis, Mo.
“Dave worked very closely with the rice industry during his tenure as NRCS chief,” said Leo LaGrande, a California rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Producers’ Group conservation committee. “His vision and foresight led to the development and implementation of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in several mid-South and Gulf of Mexico coastal states, including the five rice-producing states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.”
White helped develop the program in response to the oil spill in the Gulf to provide habitat for millions of migratory birds whose annual habitat sites in the Gulf region had been damaged by the spill. Most of the program’s enrolled acres were rice fields. White also worked closely with the California rice industry to develop and implement the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program, or WHEP, based on the efforts in the Gulf region.
The University of Delaware also conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the MBHI implemented in response to the Gulf oil spill. That report was issued earlier this year.
NRCS is also working with the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership, composed of Point Blue Conservation Science, Audubon California and The Nature Conservancy, to monitor bird response to the new conservation activities undertaken by California farmers.