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DNR's Halvorsen recognized with leadership award

Last June at a ceremony in Wausau, Harvey Halvorsen was awarded the 2017 Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management Leadership Award. Pictured (from left): Eric Lobner – Wildlife Management Bureau Chief, Harvey Halvorsen – Area Wildlife Supervisor from New Richmond, and Aaron Bucholtz – Division Administrator of Fish, Wildlife, Parks. Submitted photo

For many who live in the New Richmond area and enjoy the outdoors, Harvey Halvorsen is a familiar face. Whether it be running in a 5K benefiting a community organization, leading a discussion about a local river or wildlife issue or naming the bird behind a beautiful song on a tour of a local prairie, Halvorsen has been the knowledgeable and neighborly face of the Department of Natural Resources in these parts since transferring to the Baldwin Service Center in 1994.

Last June at a ceremony in Wausau, Halvorsen was awarded the 2017 Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management Leadership Award. The award was initiated in 1993 to provide field staff with an opportunity to recognize an individual who has provided exemplary leadership in the Wildlife Management field. A coalition of some 30 employees under Halvorsen's supervision nominated him for the award. Not the type of person to seek the spotlight, Halvorsen was deeply moved by his co-workers' nomination.

"I'm not a person who looks for awards or recognition, so I got pretty emotional. It meant a lot to me that they, my co-workers nominated me. I'm very grateful," said Halvorsen.

Friends and coworkers would agree with the sentiments expressed in the DNR's Nov. 6 press release: "Throughout his career, he (Halvorsen) has exhibited exemplary passion for his craft, providing the highest level of commitment and dedication to Wisconsin's natural resources and to the citizens of this great State. He has been an ardent advocate for the needs of his coworkers and employees. For these reasons, he was selected as the much-deserving recipient of the 2017 Wisconsin DNR Wildlife Management Leadership Award."

Upon earning his Master's Degree in Natural Resources Management from UW-Stevens Point, Halvorsen joined the department in 1985. Initially stationed at the Bong Recreation Area in Kenosha County, Halvorsen was involved with tracking new releases of wild turkeys in the Kettle Moraine State Forest and working with staff on the managed pheasant hunt at Bong. While at Bong, he developed a district-wide private lands program offering grassland and wetlands restoration services for landowners. In 1986 Halvorsen helped form and became president of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin credited with the remarkable recovery of the Eastern bluebird in Wisconsin.

Halvorsen transferred to Baldwin in 1994 to accept the position of Area Pheasant Biologist for the DNR. Working in coordination with biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) county agriculture staff, Halvorsen is credited with the development of thousands of acres of grassland and wetland habitat for wildlife on private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Halvorsen was also responsible for initiating the Star Prairie Seed Farm, a collaborative effort with the USFWS to provide local ecotype prairie seed for state and federal properties. The program has been recognized for saving the Wildlife Management program about $750,000 over the past 15 years.

In 1996, Halvorsen became the local DNR biologist for St. Croix and Pierce Counties. His responsibilities continued to include private lands programs but he also became manager of the deer program and land acquisition projects in both counties. Halvorsen brought in over $3 million in North American Wetland Conservation Act funds matched by another $9 million from partnering organizations including Ducks Unlimited, local chapters of Pheasants Forever and the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust. Those funds helped in the acquisition of more than 1,200 acres for the Western Prairie Habitat Restoration Area (WPHRA) which were added to the public land base. Those acres continued to be enjoyed by countless outdoor enthusiasts including hunters, bird watchers, photographers and hikers.

In 2011, Halvorsen was promoted to the Eau Claire Area - Natural Resources Supervisor. In 2015, Halvorsen oversaw wildlife management involvement with the St. Croix Crossing bridge mitigation project including the relocation of a small population of the state-endangered blazing star.

Harvey has served in leadership roles to give back to the community and to the conservation of wildlife resources. He served as president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the Wildlife Society, an international association of wildlife management professionals, in which he holds certification as a Wildlife Biologist. He also helped form a local chapter of the grassroots organization, "The Prairie Enthusiasts." He is currently working with the New Richmond Pathways Committee on the Willow River Water Trail project. This group seeks to improve safe canoeing and kayaking of the Willow River in the New Richmond Area.