RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 10, 2019) – The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission presented the prestigious Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award to Tim Eaton at its business meeting Thursday.
Wildlife Management Division Chief Brad Howard presented Eaton with a plaque and the traditional gift of a new drip torch, recognizing Eaton’s efforts to restore and enhance wildlife habitat for small game, in particular bobwhite quail, on his 200-acre farm in Yadkin County. With the assistance of Wildlife Commission biologists, Eaton has been intensively managing his working farm over the last five years, using a variety of management practices, such as prescribed fire, pasture restoration and plantings of native warm season grasses (NWSG).
The use of NWSG, in particular, has been very beneficial for not only wild animals but also livestock. Because of their growth structure that creates open space at the ground level and protective canopy cover above, NWSG are used by many wildlife species, from ground nesting birds, such as quail and wild turkey, to small mammals, like rabbits and voles. Additionally, NWSG provide excellent forage for livestock through grazing and hay production.
Other management practices Eaton uses to improve wildlife habitat on his land includes thinning timber to allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, which encourages the growth of understory vegetation, and installing fences along streams and riparian buffers to keep cattle out to protect stream integrity and water quality.
Through the “field days” that he hosts, Eaton opens his farm to other landowners to show them the dual benefits of NSWG for wildlife and livestock and how they can manage their properties in a similar fashion. He also allows local fire departments to use his property for prescribed fire trainings and the N.C. Forest Service to conduct chainsaw trainings for its personnel.
“Tim has been and continues to be an exemplary habitat cooperator and friend of the Wildlife Commission,” said Jason Smith, District 7 wildlife biologist. “He has a passion for wildlife conservation, particularly small game, is a proponent and practitioner of sound land stewardship and exemplifies Aldo Leopold’s ‘Land Ethic’ philosophy.”
The Commission presents the Lawrence Diedrick award to individuals or organizations whose actions significantly and positively impact North Carolina’s small game populations through habitat management, education, research, the Hunting Heritage Program or other efforts. These actions also benefit other species, including nongame animals such as songbirds, reptiles and amphibians. The awards are named for the late Larry Diedrick, a lawyer and a former Wildlife Commissioner from Rocky Mount who died in 2002. Diedrick was well known for his passion and advocacy of wildlife conservation, in particular small game.
For more information about small game management in North Carolina, visit www.ncwildlife.org/hunting.
Jodie B. Owen
Download a high-resolution version of the image above. Photo by Melissa McGaw/NCWRC. From left to right:
Wildlife Commission Chairman David Hoyle, Jr., Wildlife Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers, Tim Eaton, Wildlife Management Division Chief Brad Howard, and District 7 Wildlife Biologist Jason Smith.