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Illinois Landowner Wins National Award


Wayne City, Ill.     Tom Blasdel of Wayne City, Ill., was honored by the National Wild Turkey Federation as the Wild Turkey Woodlands National Award winner for practicing quality land management, as well as his community and NWTF chapter involvement.

The NWTF is a national nonprofit conservation organization that was founded in 1973 and has worked with wildlife agencies to restore wild turkey populations from 1.3 million wild turkeys in 1973 to nearly 7 million today. Now, NWTF volunteers raise funds and work daily to improve critical wildlife habitat, increase access to public hunting land and introduce new people to the outdoors and hunting.

Blasdel was recognized during the NWTF's 33rd annual National Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn., held Feb. 19 to Feb. 22.

Blasdel has planted more than 25,000 trees and shrubs on his 160-acre property and manages timber and controls non-native plants on his land to provide quality habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife. He also plants food plots to produce food for wildlife.

In addition, Blasdel has enrolled acreage in the Natural Resource Conservation Service's Conservation Reserve Program, which helps farmers and ranchers address soil, water and other natural resource concerns on their lands in ways that benefit the environment and are cost-effective - essentially helping landowners accomplish more to benefit wildlife than they could without funding assistance.

Blasdel serves as president of the NWTF's Big Muddy Longbeards chapter and is an active NWTF Habitat Pro Staff member, a program in the Hunting Heritage Club that has local experts provide wildlife habitat management information to their community. He has participated in the Wild Turkey Woodlands program since 2004 and has used his property as a demonstration site for Wildlife Habitat Management workshops and field days.

The Hunting Heritage Club focuses on bringing all types of hunters into the fight to maintain the freedom to hunt and manage lands for wildlife. The program also promotes hunting as part of our North American heritage and encourages landowners to have a written management plan for their property.

"Tom Blasdel's habitat work is a perfect example of what the NWTF and Hunting Heritage Club promote," said Gary Burger, NWTF forester. "The Wild Turkey Woodlands awards highlight people around the country who practice sound land management and preserve places for wildlife and future generations to enjoy."

In addition to his involvement with the Big Muddy Longbeards chapter, Blasdel volunteers as a hunter safety instructor and lake monitor for the Environmental Protection Agency; serves as president of the Southeastern Illinois Pharmacists Association; and is an active member of Keenes Christian Church, the Wayne City Merchant's Association and the House of Delegates for the Illinois Pharmacist's Association.

Other 2009 Wild Turkey Woodlands Award winners were:

  • 1st Runner-up: Joseph A. Cioni, DMD, Lebanon, Ill.
  • 2nd Runner-up: Gordon K. Rhine, Rural Route Stonefort, Ill.

In addition, the following people were name outstanding land steward winners:

  • G. Joseph Parell, M.D., Panama City, Fla.
  • Randall Phelps, Clarkson, Ky.
  • Clarence Smith, Cookeville, Tenn.
  • Don Allex, Palm City, Fla.
  • Bob Wright, Augusta, Ga.

2009 Convention Sponsors

Bank of America, Bass Pro Shops, Browning, Call Makers and Collectors Association of America, Chevrolet, Crescent Cardboard Co., LLC, Federal Premium Ammunition, Foxy Huntress, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, Knight Rifles, Leupold & Stevens, Longleaf Camo, Marlin Firearm/H&R 1871 LLC, Mathews Bows, Inc., MeadWestvaco, Motorola, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Band and Tag, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., Outdoor Channel, The Outdoor Connection, Inc., Remington Arms Company, Inc., S.C. State Chapter, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Tennessee State Chapter, The Sportsman Channel, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Weatherby, Inc., Weyerhaeuser, Wild Turkey Bourbon and Winchester Olin

About the NWTF:  In 1973, Tom Rodgers founded the National Wild Turkey Federation in Fredericksburg, Va., as a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit conservation and education organization with a mission dedicated to conserving wild turkeys and preserving hunting traditions. Shortly thereafter, Rodgers relocated the NWTF to Edgefield, S.C., where it's still headquartered today.
At the time NWTF was established, there were only 1.3 million wild turkeys. Today that number stands at more than seven million birds throughout North America, thanks to the efforts of state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members and partners.

Growth and progress define the NWTF as it has expanded from 1,300 members in 1973 to nearly a half million today. With that growth has come impressive strides in wildlife management as the NWTF has forged dynamic partnerships across the country to further its conservation mission. Together, the NWTF's partners, sponsors and grassroots members have raised and spent more than $286 million upholding hunting traditions and conserving nearly 14 million acres of wildlife habitat.
While wild turkey restoration is nearing completion, the NWTF still has much work to do. Across North America, supporters are working to enhance habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife while providing hunters with more opportunities and access to public and private land. In addition, NWTF volunteers and partners are introducing youth, women and people with disabilities to the outdoors through special educational events.
If you would like to become a member of Team NWTF, join a committee or start a chapter, please visit our Web site at or call us at 800-THE-NWTF.

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