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Chris Eberly

  • Program Manager and Conservation Ornithologist; ODUSD(I&E), Environmental Management Natural Resources Program (Independent Contractor)

  • Joined the Department of Defense Partners in Flight program in October 1997 as the first full-time DoD bird conservation coordinator. He held that role until August 2014.


As the first full-time DoD bird conservation professional, Mr. Eberly systematically advanced the scope and impact of the fledgling DoD Partners in Flight (PIF) program; a highly regarded initiative to support the defense mission through proactive strategies to sustain healthy landscapes and training lands. PIF achieved remarkable success in large part as a result of Chris’s able leadership in working with natural resource managers across the DoD and fostering productive relationships with several federal conservation agencies, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). He also served as the DoD point of contact for a host of federally sponsored bird conservation initiatives. His efforts resulted in a suite of robust avian inventory, monitoring, research, management and education programs, which have become institutionalized via installation Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans.

Chris attributes much of his success to the tireless efforts of NMFWA in defending the Sikes Act, bringing together the best people in DoD, providing a unified voice for military lands and its resource managers, and the incredible support of his friends and colleagues in the Association. He is proud to be a long-time member and to have served as one of its Presidents.


Chris elevated the stature of the DoD as a leading federal agency in bird conservation by crafting strategies and actions that worked. Through his tireless efforts, Chris raised awareness of DoD conservation successes nationally and internationally; most notably with respect to endangered, threatened and at-risk bird species protection and “keeping common birds common.” He got the word out via numerous presentations at professional meetings, many peer-reviewed and popular publications, and his active role on the PIF Federal Agency Committee and the national PIF Management Steering Committee; he served as chair on both. In recognition of his impact and influence, Chis became the first DoD recipient of the International PIF Leadership Award in 2002 for “Outstanding Contributions to Bird Conservation.”

Chris became actively involved in NMFWA right from the very start. He was elected Vice President and Program Chair in 2007 and then as President Elect starting in 2008. History was made when Chris was inducted as the first contractor to become the Association’s President in 2009. He also chaired the NMFWA Certification Committee for two years.

Mr. Eberly’s outstanding initiatives have become widely recognized in and out of DoD. He was a recipient of the 2012 NMFWA Natural Resources Conservation Management, Model Programs Award and the 2013 U.S. Forest Service Wings Across the Americas Award. In 2014, he was selected as an Elective Member in the American Ornithologists’ Union.

Chris also played an important role in the DoD’s highly regarded Legacy Resource Management Program, a program intended to foster conservation of biological diversity within the constraints of the military’s training and testing requirements. By engaging himself and DoD PIF representatives in the proposal review process, he was able to help ensure the quality of proposals, especially bird proposals, submitted and funded.


Building partnerships was always at the core of Mr. Eberly’s work, whether with the military services and DoD leadership, state and federal agencies, installation commanders, or the bird conservation community. Chris brought this same vision and energy to NMFWA. Often working in collaboration with others, Chris’s efforts have truly opened the eyes of the conservation community and its leadership to the “best kept secret” that is our job and our passion -- supporting the military mission while maintaining the most biodiverse public lands in America.

Notable initiatives include the following:

  • Raise awareness of the importance and impact of NMFWA and DoD natural resources management among the “national” players in natural resources management (with Steve Helfert) by strengthening connections with the Wildlife Management Institute and direct participation in the North American Fish and Wildlife Conference (2008 Special Session--Conservation Partnerships: Effective Military Natural Resources Conservation.)

  • Established and co-chaired (with Rhys Evans) a formal Military Lands Working Group within The Wildlife Society.

  • Played a lead role in drafting the Migratory Bird Rule (Federal Register June 2, 2004); crafting conservation measures and a guidance document for the new Rule; preparing a database of mission sensitive species; and standardizing bird monitoring and data entry protocols (with USGS and Dr. Rich Fischer) -- documented in a 2010 report entitled, Coordinated Bird Monitoring: Technical Recommendations for Military Lands.

  • Worked with the USFWS National Conservation Training Center to customize their Migratory Bird Conservation course for DoD biologists; organized and helped teach the course; and created a one-day short course for DoD leadership.

  • He helped to formulate a charter for the federal Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds, formed in 2011; prepare conservation guidelines for use by all federal agencies; and facilitate creation of the Federal Avian Data Center.

Chris also got the word out about DoDs successful conservation initiatives via numerous publications and presentations at over 40 professional meetings, conferences and workshops.

After leaving DoD PIF, Chris served as Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and is now Executive Director of the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership.

Chris Eberly
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