John Schmerfeld of Arlington, Va, son of Lloyd and the late Monica Schmerfeld of Quakake, was presented the 2011 Eugene W. Surber Professional Fisheries Biologist Award from the Virginia Chapter of the American Fisheries Society. Climate Change Coordinator for the National Wildlife Refuge System, Schmerfeld was cited for his work as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Division (NRDAR), a position he held from 2000 to 2010.
During his tenure at NRDAR, Schmerfeld was instrumental in settling several cases involving environmental damages, resulting in more than $8 million in damages collected and used to restore Virginia's aquatic resources. Those cases included an incident involving a tractor trailer that overturned, spilling 1350 gallons of rubber accelerant into the Clinch River. The spill killed more than 700 endangered mussels, the largest such loss since the implementation of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The case was settled for $3.8 million, with the funding directed toward mussel restoration, habitat protection and community education.
Under Schmerfeld's direction, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia Tech University have established fully staffed freshwater cultivation facilities which have produced more than 2 million mussels as part of the Tennessee River Drainage Restoration Program.