U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Awards in California

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould has announced the 18 recipients of the Service’s 2008 Recovery Champion award. The Recovery Champion award recognizes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees and their partners for contributions to the recovery of threatened and endangered species in the United States.

“The Recovery Champion award both recognizes the exceptional conservation accomplishments of its honorees and highlights the importance of strong and diverse partnerships in species conservation,” said Gould. “Recovery Champions are helping imperiled species regain their place in the natural resources fabric of our country while focusing attention on the importance of conserving our nation’s biological heritage for future generations.”

The 2008 Recovery Champion honorees are working to benefit a range of endangered and threatened plants and animals. From whooping cranes to mussels, Service employees and partners such as universities, conservation agencies, and private organizations are devoting their resources to a shared mission. Habitat restoration, public awareness campaigns, and species’ monitoring programs are just a few examples of this year’s Recovery Champion honorees’ efforts.

There were two award recipients in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Pacific Southwest Region:

Nadine Kanim, USFWS:
Nadine Kanim has led the way to ensure that Yreka phlox, listed as endangered under both state and federal law, continues as a part of our natural heritage. Her ability to bring people together to generate action has led to significant progress in recovering this rare plant. Given its restricted range and limited number of populations, this is a true accomplishment. Ms. Kanim has engaged partners to permanently protect from development four parcels of land representing more than 60 percent of occupied habitat on China Hill. Her enthusiasm for conserving the Yreka phlox is contagious and has generated enrollment in the recovery team. The group has focused on removing the threat of land development and herbicide applications. Recent surveys have located additional populations of the Yreka phlox.

Dr. Patrick Kelly, California State University, Stanislaus:
baby riparian brush rabbitsDr. Patrick Kelly is a Recovery Champion for his work conserving riparian brush rabbits. His leadership in recovering this species is particularly notable in that after the 1997 Central Valley floods, there was concern that riparian brush rabbits had become extinct. Dr. Kelly has been applauded for his “watchful eye, passionate commitment, scrupulous focus and leadership.” His work entailed capturing animals for a propagation program, releasing them, health-checking the young, radio-collaring and tagging them, releasing them into the wild, and then monitoring them for survival, healthy reproduction, and habitat use. Dr. Kelly has introduced riparian brush rabbits on the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge and adjacent private land. He has saved the riparian brush rabbit from the brink of extinction and transported it to the road to recovery.

“Nadine Kanim and Dr. Patrick Kelly deserve these awards. They have shown a commitment to the recovery of these species that goes well beyond expected actions. Thanks to their efforts the Yreka phlox and the riparian brush rabbit have a much better chance of survival,” said Ren Lohoefener, Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Southwest Region.

For additional information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Champion website at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/recovery/champions/index.html

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.