Christopher Estes Receives Stanley Moberly Award for Fish Habitat Conservation

November 8, 2021

Contact: Beth Beard
[email protected]


Brian Murphy, Christopher Estes, and Gary Whelan

(Baltimore, Md.) November 8, 2021 – Christopher Estes received the Stanley A. Moberly Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievements and Contributions to Fish Habitat Conservation. American Fisheries Society (AFS) Past President Brian Murphy and AFS Fish Habitat Section President Gary Whelan presented the award at a Plenary Session at the AFS 151st Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Stanley A. Moberly Award was established in 2019 and is presented annually to an individual who has achieved significant success in a fish habitat career related to research, policy, management, education, project implementation, communications and outreach, or another endeavor. The award covers freshwater, coastal, and marine habitats, and was developed by the AFS Fish Habitat Section in partnership with NOAA Fisheries and the National Fish Habitat Partnership.

“We applaud the distinguished contributions of Christopher Estes and thank him for his continuous efforts to further the conservation of fish habitats,” said AFS Past President Brian Murphy.

Estes’ pursuit of habitat conservation is best characterized by his exceptional knowledge and tireless advocacy for seizing every opportunity to lead, implement, and support science-based legal, institutional, and public involvement actions and solutions to successfully conserve adequate amounts of instream flows and water levels in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs to sustain fish, wildlife, and habitat conditions on a global basis.

Estes’ exceptional 46+ year professional career began in 1975 as a fish and wildlife biologist with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks contributing to water quality, instream flow, and water level conservation studies. Estes next joined the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in 1977 and worked there until retiring in 2010. His notable achievements included development and leadership of the department’s initial formal statewide instream flow and water level conservation program in 1986, later referred to as the Statewide Aquatic Resources and Coordination Unit. Estes coordinated all fish and wildlife scientific and related technical and policy actions, including outreach, pertaining to securing reservations of water (water rights for instream flows and water levels) on behalf of the ADF&G under AS 46.15.145.  He also participated in the development of state legislation, regulations, and policies relating to AS 46.15, including representation of Alaska’s interests pertaining to proposed federal laws.

ADF&G supported Estes’ participation in international and national habitat conservation initiatives benefiting the department. As a result, Estes cofounded the National Instream Flow Program Assessment (NIFPA) project in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to further improve the abilities of state fish and wildlife agencies, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regions, and Tribes to successfully secure adequate amounts of water for fish and wildlife in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, and to better address other water related regional and national conservation issues. The NIFPA project led to the 1998 formation of the Instream Flow Council (IFC) in which Estes was a contributing founder. The IFC is composed of the 50 state fish and wildlife agencies representing the United States and its territories and their Canadian provincial/territorial counterparts. Estes serves as one of its Directors at Large.

Estes also served in a national leadership and coordination role providing significant contributions facilitating the development of the 2006 National Fish Habitat Action Plan (NFHAP). Approval of NFHAP by leadership of state and federal agencies resulted in the formation of the National Fish Habitat Board and National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP). Estes also served as a staff member to the original board and contributed to formation and operation of Fish Habitat Partnerships. Estes continues to serve on the NFHP national Science and Data Committee. Collectively, these actions contributed to success of the NFHP, and in 2020, its codification under federal law (Title II of PL 116-188).

Estes formed Chalk Board Enterprises, LLC in 2011 to provide instream flow and water level conservation services as an Aquatic Resources and Habitat Scientist. He continues to serve on national and international advisory panels and actively participates in professional organizations. Estes has been an AFS member since 1976 and spearheaded the development of its first instream flow and water level related conservation policy. In 2020, Estes was inducted into the AFS Fisheries Management Section Hall of Excellence.

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Editor’s Notes:

Founded in 1870, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) is the world’s oldest and largest fisheries science society. The mission of AFS is to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals. With five journals and numerous books and conferences, AFS is the leading source of fisheries science and management information in North America and around the world.

AFS general link:

High resolution award photo link: