News Releases

Mike Brooks, leader of Florida’s Wildlife Management Areas, receives conservation excellence award

News Release

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291; Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459

Photos available on the FWC’s Flickr site: External Website

Mike Brooks, an innovative leader of the state’s Wildlife Management Area system, has been honored with the 2016 Louise Humphrey Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the conservation of Florida’s fish and wildlife. The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida presented the award to Brooks at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Sept. 8 meeting in St. Augustine.

Brooks, who retired earlier this year from his job as wildlife and habitat management section leader within the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, proudly accepted this honor recognizing his 36 years of service with the FWC and its predecessor agency, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. He is credited with transforming the state’s 147 WMAs into a national model of effective, objective-based management of native wildlife and habitats.

Mike Brooks demonstrated incredible commitment to conservation excellence during a long, distinguished career. He began as a biologist in the Ocala Wildlife Management Area where his research identified the cause of a declining deer population and led to its recovery.

“Over the past 12 years, Mike’s leadership of Florida’s Wildlife Management Area system focused on innovation, experimentation, collaboration and evaluation to improve our WMAs,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.

“WMAs conserve the diversity of Florida’s wildlife and habitats, and provide great places for people to enjoy the beauty and fun of being outdoors,” Eason added. “The best way for anyone to appreciate Mike Brooks’ legacy is by visiting any of the many WMAs scattered throughout the state.”

Florida’s public lands conservation system goes back 75 years and covers nearly 6 million acres, with the FWC as lead agency for many WMAs and co-manager of other WMAs in partnership with governmental and private landowners. More than 2.5 million people a year visit Florida’s WMAs for activities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, hiking, biking, boating and camping.

The co-workers and employees who nominated Brooks for the award designated him as the “chief architect” of cutting-edge approaches to managing natural resources. The Wildlife Conservation Prioritization and Recovery program, for example, takes a proactive, science-based approach to managing imperiled species. Staff integrate conservation planning, population analysis and geospatial techniques to model potential habitat for focal species. These assessments, combined with expert knowledge, produce a species management strategy identifying habitat management treatments, species actions and monitoring protocols.

The Louise Ireland Humphrey Achievement Award is named after the first woman appointed to serve on the board of the then-Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission in 1984. A Leon County resident and owner of Woodfield Springs Plantation, Humphrey served until 1999 and was recognized as a conservationist for her love of the land, particularly the Red Hills area north of Tallahassee, and for her leadership style on fish and wildlife issues. The award reflects dedication to the conservation mission that guided Mrs. Humphrey and now guides the FWC.

Go to and click on Wildlife Management Areas to find WMAs by name or location and explore all the things going on at each WMA.

FWC Facts:
The Marine Fisheries Stock Enhancement program breeds and rears game fish and mollusks for release into marine waters and evaluates the use of hatchery-reared animals.

Learn More at AskFWC