The name Eddie Bridges might not ring a bell but in North Carolina he made an indelible mark on wildlife conservation in this state. He served on the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for 12 years and was the father of the lifetime hunting, fishing, and sportsman’s licenses. In addition, he helped start the tax check-off for the nongame and endangered wildlife fund and the NC Waterfowl Stamp and Print Program.
In addition to his work with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, in 1992 he founded and served as the voluntary, unpaid, executive director of the North Carolina Wildlife Habitat Foundation. That foundation has raised over $15 million to help buy land for wildlife, fund projects and studies, and to maintain over 2,000 acres of conservation easements.
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission back in 2013 listed all the awards Bridges won for his conservation work.
The Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award is the latest in a long line of prestigious awards given to Bridges over the years. These include the Chevron Conservation Award in 1989;the Sol Feinstone Environmental Award in 1991; the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s Governor’s Award of Excellence in 1993 as the North Carolina Conservationist of the Year; the National Budweiser Conservationist of the year; the Wildlife Federation’s Hall of Fame in 2004; Field & Stream magazine’s Conservation Hero of the Year in 2012; and most recently, the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2013.
On winning the Field & Stream Conservation Hero of the Year Award, he said this to the Greensboro Daily News.
“It’s also crucial to keep kids interested,” he told Field & Stream in 2012. “I’ve been hunting and fishing since I was 6 years old, and I’m still kind of addicted to it. … I just turned 79, I don’t wear glasses and I don’t need a walker or false teeth, so I think it’s done me some good.”
Bridges estimated he raised over $200 million for wildlife, conservation, and his alma mater Elon University where he played baseball and football. On raising the money for conservation, he said:
“It’s about the thousands of people who are members of my foundation and other interested folk who have embraced my cause,” Bridges told the News & Record’s Jeff Mills in 2019. “It’s about the 1 million men, women and children who hunt and fish in North Carolina, people who have generated $2.3 billion a year for our state’s economy. No other sport has done that.”
A long-time resident of Greensboro, Bridges was 87.