RALEIGH, N.C. (July 11, 2013) — Eddie Bridges, a long-time conservationist and advocate of North Carolina’s wildlife and wild places, today received the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The Commission presents the award annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation.
Bridges, of Greensboro, accepted the award, along with plaque and a framed print of a Sandhills longleaf pine forest, from Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers at the agency’s business meeting in Raleigh.
“It is an honor and a privilege to present this distinguished award today to Eddie — a true conservationist who has worked tirelessly to ensure that future generations of North Carolinians have opportunities to enjoy the abundance and diversity of wildlife and wildlife habitats that we enjoy today,” Myers said.
Bridges, who founded and voluntarily serves as the executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation, is well known in conservation circles for his dedication and enthusiasm to conserve and protect wildlife habitat in the Tar Heel state. Under Bridges’ leadership, the Foundation has raised nearly $4 million in donations and has funded more than $1 million of wildlife conservation programs and projects, such as rebuilding quail populations, enhancing fish habitat around piers and restoring Willow Pond, a public waterfowl-viewing site located in Harkers Island. Through its Adopt-An-Acre Program, the Foundation has purchased more than 200 acres of prime wildlife habitat that will be added to the Commission’s North Carolina Game Land Program.
Bridges is a former Wildlife Commissioner, appointed by Gov. James B. Hunt in 1977. He served on the Commission board for 12years, during which time he created the N.C. Wildlife Endowment Fund, also known as the “Eddie Bridges Fund.” Since its inception in 1981, the endowment fund has generated nearly $150 million for wildlife conservation work across the state. It is a “401(k)” for wildlife that has been duplicated by more than30 states across the nation and has provided the Commission with money to fund critical projects that enhance hunting, fishing, trapping and other outdoor recreational pursuits.
Bridges also was instrumental in the creation of two other programs that have benefited North Carolina’s wildlife and habitats — the North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print Program and the North Carolina Tax Check-off for Nongame and Endangered Wildlife. Funds from the stamp and print program help conserve, protect and enhance waterfowl habitat in North Carolina while donations to the North Carolina tax check-off fund projects that conserve and protect nongame wildlife and their habitats.
The Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award is the latest in a long line of prestigious awards given to Bridges over the years. These include the Chevron Conservation Award in 1989;the Sol Feinstone Environmental Award in 1991; the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Award of Excellence in 1993 as the North Carolina Conservationist of the Year; the National Budweiser Conservationist of the year; the Wildlife Federation’s Hall of Fame in 2004; Field & Stream magazine’s Conservation Hero of the Year in 2012; and most recently, the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2013.
“I appreciate being the recipient of this award,” Bridges said. “Not because of anything I may have accomplished,but because of the namesake of this award, a man who was a true conservationist, someone who believed in giving back, who provided so much for future generations and wildlife.”
Bridges is the eighth person to receive the honor. The first recipient was Dr. Quay himself, a former professor of zoology at N.C. State University and self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist.” Quay, who passed away in April 2012, served on a variety of conservation boards while lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes.
For more information about wildlife conservation in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s Conserving page.
a high-resolution photo. Please credit Melissa McGaw/NCWRC