Release Date: 05/02/2006

The U.S. Army presented awards to two Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Wildlife Division personnel at a ceremony at Fort Polk on March 31.

Leonard Bennett, wildlife technician, received a "Certificate of Appreciation" for his work with the military managing the wildlife resources on Fort Polk.  Bennett also received the "James Brooks' Technician of the Year Award" from the National Wild Turkey Federation for his management work with wild turkeys on the Fort Polk Wildlife Management Area (WMA).  Biologist Manager John Robinette accepted a "Commander's Award for Public Service" for his professionalism and dedication to the stewardship of Fort Polk's natural resources.  Brig. Gen. Michael Barbero, who is the commanding general at Fort Polk, presented both awards. 

Robinette is the Wildlife Division's Region 5 biologist manager in Lake Charles and oversees all wildlife management activities in southeastern Louisiana.  Bennett is the Fort Polk WMA area supervisor.  Robinette and Bennett, along with other Region 5 Wildlife Division personnel, were also heavily involved with restoration and recovery activities following the two hurricanes.

In return, LDWF's Wildlife Division presented a "Certificate of Appreciation" to outgoing Garrison Commander Col. A. Wade Woolfrey Jr. for his dedication and support in helping the department manage the wildlife resources for public recreational opportunities on the Fort Polk WMA.  Col. Woolfrey, who is transferring to a base in Virginia at the end of April, was very instrumental in building the working relationship between the Army and LDWF.  Fort Polk and LDWF will continue their working relationship with new Garrison Commander Col. David G. Sage when he takes over the command May 2.        

The Army and LDWF have developed a cooperative partnership in the operations and management of the wildlife resources which exist on the 145,000 acres of the military training complex known as Fort Polk and Peason Ridge.  These military facilities are located mainly in Vernon Parish and were first established in the 1940s.  Fort Polk's mission has been to train military troops during World War II, the Vietnam Conflict and Gulf Wars.  Today, Fort Polk is the command center of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment Transformation and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), which involves training military personnel for current assignments around the world.

About half of Fort Polk and Peason Ridge is owned by the Department of Defense.  The other half is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, which leases that half to the U.S. Army for training.  LDWF leases both areas from the U.S. Army for both Peason Ridge and Fort Polk WMAs.

The areas habitat consists of rolling hills and sandy creek bottoms of mixed hardwood and pine timber.  The area supports good populations of many species of wildlife, but is hunted mainly for deer and turkey.  The area also supports the highest number of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) colonies in the state.

Region 5 Wildlife Division personnel have been working with the U.S. Army since 1994 to understand each organization's prospective mission and how to meet each other's goals in a cooperative manner.  Over the past 12 years, an efficient line of communication has evolved among the U.S. Army, U.S. Forest Service and LDWF.  Today, military training and the management of the habitats and wildlife species have merged to benefit the U. S. Army, U.S. Forest Service, LDWF and also the thousands of people who utilize these areas for outdoor recreation.

EDITORS: For more information, contact John Robinette at 337-491-2575 or jrobinette@wlf.louisiana.gov.