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Chester O. Martin

Mr. Chester O. Martin began his distinguished career with the Department of Defense by serving 4 years as a U.S. Navy Officer where he proudly defended our freedom while on active duty in Vietnam. Following an Honorable Discharge, he attended Texas A&M University (TAMU) where he earned both B.S. (1961-66) and M.S. (1970-74) degrees in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences. He also received post-graduate credits from Mississippi State University and New Mexico State University. While a graduate student at TAMU, he honed his burgeoning artistic skills by illustrating The Mammals of Trans-Pecos Texas and providing several drawings for The Mammals of Texas. Those skills would later be used extensively throughout his career to provide artwork on both the cover and within the NMFWA annual meeting program.

Upon graduation from TAMU, Chester began a long career with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), when he was hired in 1975 as the first Wildlife Biologist in the Galveston District. In 1981 he moved to the USACE Waterways Experiment Station in Vicksburg, MS, and launched a 27-year career as a Research Wildlife Biologist. His skills were quickly utilized in a variety of both civil works and military research programs, as were his leadership skills as Leader of the Wildlife Resources and Environmental Stewardship Teams; and as Acting Chief, Wetland and Habitat Management Team. He served two years on a NATO Task Force for developing environmental guidelines for large Civil Works projects and as a member of the Executive Committee for the North American Bat Conservation Partnership.

Chester was best known professionally for his research on bats throughout the U.S. and portions of Mexico from the early 1970s until his retirement in 2008. He played a lead role in environmental assessments of the potential impacts of military training on endangered bat species and their habitats. He directed numerous studies of bats and their habitats on military and civil works lands and waters nationwide, and was widely recognized as the “go-to” man in DoD for bat issues. He provided assistance on bat management as part of the Army Conservation Assistance Program to numerous military installations, including Fort Hood, Fort Huachuca, Fort Leavenworth, and the U.S. Military Academy. His expertise with bat surveys and habitat management guidelines have been instrumental in supporting the military mission at Fort Knox, Fort Belvoir, Scott AFB, San Clemente Naval Base, Camp Shelby, Camp McCain, Meridian Naval Air Station, and the Upper Connecticut River Basin in Vermont and New Hampshire. Chester was considered the Department of the Army’s leading expert on bat conservation and management and authored/coauthored more than 40 articles on bats in professional journals, technical reports, and other media, and delivered more than 50 technical presentations on bats at professional meetings. His publications addressed organochlorine insecticides residues in bats, bat systematics and life-history, and inventory and monitoring. He founded the Bat Working Group for the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association (NMFWA) and served on state, regional, and international bat conservation committees.

In the mid-1990s Chester began to focus his research efforts on Threatened and Endangered (T&E) species, primarily because of needs to assess T&E species issues on military installations. As such, he served as the EL species subject matter expert on military installations and as the EL technical representative for development of the “Army T&E species research and development management plan.” This work led to development of research projects on various aspects of T&E species management for several military programs, including Legacy, SERDP, and the Army Basic Research Program. From 1997-2001 he directed an Army study that resulted in a conceptual community-based regional plan for managing T&E species on military lands in the southeastern U.S. Concurrent with this work, he developed the first training course within the USACE on riparian ecosystems in 1994, and the base curriculum from that course has been taught annually for more than 20 years to hundreds of USACE and military attendees.

Chester was involved from the very early years of the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association, and his early influence has been part of many of the historical accomplishments of the Association. He served five terms on the NMFWA Board of Directors, was Editor of the Association newsletter (FAWN) for several years, managed the NMFWA membership database, and ultimately, was elected and served as NMFWA president from 2003-2004. His leadership, camaraderie, and personality always provided a sense of professionalism, as well as oft-needed levity, during his interactions with other NMFWA members. He testified before Congress in 2004 to provide support to Association members whose jobs were being threatened with outsourcing. To show appreciation for his tireless support for the Association, Chester received the NMFWA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Chester is also a free-lance artist who works in a variety of media, including pen-and-ink, watercolor, and acrylic. Favorite subjects include fish and wildlife, seascapes, and rural landscapes. He often combines ink and watercolor to create special effects. Chester was born and raised in southern Texas, and his early years were spent along the Gulf Coast. His love of the sea is well reflected in his many drawings and paintings of shrimp boats and other coastal scenes. Many NMFWA members have his artwork on the walls of their office or home and wear NMFWA t-shirts bearing a variety of his wildlife artworks.

Chester was involved widely in many professional societies and working groups and received numerous awards during his illustrious career. He served as Chair of the NMFWA Bat Working Group from 2001-2006, Chair of the Mississippi Bat Working Group from 2001-2006, and as a participant on the Executive Committee of the North American Bat Conservation Association from 2005-2006. In 2005 Chester was honored with the establishment of the Inaugural Chester O. Martin Award by the Mississippi Bat Working Group. This award was established in Chester’s name to recognize outstanding contributions to the Mississippi Bat Working Group by one of its members. Chester founded the Group in 2001 to address the need for conservation and management of Mississippi’s rich and diverse bat fauna. The Bat Working Group has grown to approximately 100 members representing State and Federal agencies, private organizations, and universities.

He earned the Department of Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2001 and the Army Director’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Technology Transfer in 1996. When he retired in 2008 from ERDC, he was presented with the Bronze De Fleury Medal, which is one of the highest distinction awards presented within the USACE to honor those individuals who have provided significant contributions to Army Engineering.

In summary, over the course of his long career, Chester served the public, the research community, the NMFWA, and the USACE with distinction. His expertise, knowledge, and wisdom have had wide-reaching effects on the development and implementation of wildlife and habitat management programs that achieve conservation goals of DoD lands in a manner that is compatible with the Corps/Military missions. His perseverance, ability to work collaboratively with peers, and eagerness to take on challenges has allowed him to successfully resolve numerous controversial issues. The techniques and guidelines Chester and his associates developed have improved the ability of natural resources managers to achieve conservation goals nationwide. His advice was always available and widely sought by academic and governmental colleagues nationwide. His accessibility and tireless devotion to duty was widely recognized and in the best tradition of the DoD and the NMFWA. Mr. Martin’s abilities and accomplishments reflect great credit on himself, the NMFWA, and Department of Army.

Dr. Richard Fischer

NMFWA Past President; 2011-2012

Chester O. Martin
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