March 20, 2012 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced recipients of the 2011 Recovery Champion award, which honors Service employees and partners for outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. A total of 56 teams and nine individuals, including two in California, were honored as Recovery Champions for work to conserve species ranging from the polar bear in Alaska to the Appalachian elktoe mussel and spotfin chub in North Carolina.
"Recovery Champions are helping listed species get to the point at which they are secure in the wild and no longer need Endangered Species Act protection," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "These groups and individuals have done amazing work in helping to bring dozens of species back from the brink of extinction, while improving habitat that benefits many other species and local communities."
In the Pacific Southwest Region, David (Dave) Imper of the Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office in Arcata, Calif., and Patrick Larson of the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, Calif., were among nine individual recipients of the Recovery Champion Award which is given annually to Service employees and their conservation partners whose work advances the recovery of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals.
Dave Imper was selected for his recovery work on the western lily and multiple other plant species in Northern California. He is recognized as a leader in the conservation of the endangered western lily and is considered by many to be the foremost expert on the species. Imper has worked for decades to restore and conserve its habitat in Oregon and California, and has successfully worked with partners towards this goal.
Since 2001, Imper has developed a large and successful botany program for the Arcata FWO and has been instrumental in many other plant conservation efforts. He has partnered with groups such as the Siskiyou Land Conservancy (SLC) and students from the Marin Academy High School to restore habitat and protect dozens of rare and unique plants, including the endangered McDonald's rock cress.
Patrick Larkin and the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, Calif., were selected for the recovery work being done to conserve over 100 federally listed plants including Hidden Lake bluecurls, Cushenbury buckwheat, and willowy monardella. The botanic garden has collected and maintained seeds of federally listed plants of southern California and raised plants for planting in restoration sites which has helped stabilize otherwise declining populations or reclaimed habitat. The garden's extensive seed bank program serves not only as a safety net for listed plants, but also for plants like the San Fernando Valley spineflower, a candidate species.
America's fish, and wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. To learn more about the Service's Endangered Species program, visit: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
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