COLUMBUS — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) recently awarded its highest honor to two individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the protection and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources. Inducted into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame were Dennis Bigler and John Blakeman.
Bigler has made noteworthy contributions to Ohio’s natural resources at the local, regional, state and national level over his 40 years of public service including the planning and creation of the National Road Bikeway in St. Clairsville, helping that city achieve “Tree City” status and spearheading the restoration of Captina Creek.
Blakeman, a retired biology instructor of 30 years, devoted much of his life to Ohio prairies and birds, planting one of Ohio’s first prairie restorations in 1973 and helping to form the Ohio Prairie Association while educating communities on raptor ecology.
The agency also presented its annual Cardinal Award for conservation achievement to Tom Cross, Senator Keith Faber, Karl Gebhardt and Scott Zody.
Cross is an outdoors writer who published “Fishing Ohio” in 2008 and has spent his career promoting the outdoors in Ohio to increase the appreciation of our natural resources in order to further protect them for future generations.
Faber was recognized during another event at Indian Lake last week for his tireless efforts and dedication toward enhancing Ohio State Parks for the benefit and enjoyment of all visitors as well as his commitment to improve water quality statewide.
Gebhardt currently works for Ohio EPA helping improve our water quality all across the state. He has also served at ODNR and the Ohio Department of Agriculture during his 40 year career supporting the mission of protecting and promoting the wise use of our lands and waters and has spent his professional career making Ohio a better place for everyone.
Zody dedicated his life and career to the protection, conservation and perpetuation of Ohio’s natural resources, serving as interim director of ODNR and Chief of the Division of Wildlife.
The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame was established by ODNR in 1966. The award recognizes a lifetime devoted to the preservation, protection and wise management of Ohio’s natural resources.
Previous Hall of Fame honorees include the legendary Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), Ohio-born explorer John Wesley Powell, botanist Lucy Braun and conservationist/novelist Louis Bromfield.
Nominated by ODNR employees, the department’s Cardinal Awards honor individuals and organizations demonstrating exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department’s mission statement.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.