Mike Hawkins, fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources stationed at Spirit Lake, received the Ace Cory Conservation Award at the annual meeting of the Okoboji Protective Association (OPA) on July 28, at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.

The Ace Cory Conservation Award honors an individual who has contributed substantially to the betterment of the ecological health of Lake West Okoboji. The OPA, founded in 1905, has been an advocate for clean water and a healthy environment for over a century. This is the seventh year of the award.

Hawkins was recognized for his tireless efforts and recent leadership in constructing an electrical barrier to prevent the future migration of Asian carp (an invasive species) into the Iowa Great Lakes. Flood waters in the Missouri and Little Sioux rivers during 2011 allowed for the movement of bighead and silver carp into the Iowa Great Lakes.

Fortunately, the density that migrated in was low, resulting in no biological or recreational impact on these popular lakes.
Through Hawkins efforts, future Asian carp movement will be blocked by the construction of the barrier. Construction is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

Hawkins is a native of Cascade and a 13 year veteran of the Fisheries Bureau of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.