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Cross honored by ODNR with the prestigious Cardinal Award

Tom Cross, left, accepts the ODNR Cardinal Award from ODNR Director James Zehringer.
Tom Cross, left, accepts the ODNR Cardinal Award from ODNR Director James Zehringer.

Defender columnist recognized for his conservation efforts –

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) on Sept. 22  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.  He has also been a columnist for The People’s Defender for many years, covering numerous outdoor topics.
“I was surprised to get the call from Susan Banks  informing me I had been selected to receive ODNR’s Cardinal Award presented to an individual (or organization) that demonstrates awareness and concerns for ideas reflected in ONDR’s mission statement,”  said Cross.
“The Adams County Travel Bureau, of which I’m executive director of, tirelessly promotes eco-tourism here in Adams County and the Travel Bureau has also secured funding to build two canoe/kayak launches on Ohio Brush Creek further advancing outdoor tourism opportunities such as canoeing and fishing. I’ve been the outdoor columnist for the local paper for nearly 40 years, also in 2008 my book ‘Fishing Ohio’ was published and is in its third printing, having sold over 5,000 copies, it remains a solid fixture on Ohio’s best sellers list and touches on nearly every public fishing spot and fishing opportunity found within the Buckeye state in its 362 pages.”
“I am pleased to have been chosen for this award, it is an honor and as I look down the names of past recipients I am clearly in a distinguished class. I’ve been a fisherman, hunter, outdoor enthusiast all my life and have championed the outdoor cause throughout. My work with the Adams County Travel Bureau reflects that as eco-tourism and hunting are huge contributors to the local economy. For years I have touted the outdoor experience through my children, my outdoor columns and the many articles throughout various publications.  To join the ranks of John Ruthven, Charles A. Eulett, Richard and Lucile Durrell, the Ohio Nature Conservancy and others that in each of their own way have made a positive impact on Ohio’s natural resources and those untold benefits to our daily lives is truly a remarkable honor.”
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.

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