Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award

Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award

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Patrick Dunn, 2016 Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year

Patrick earned his bachelor’s in biology from The Colorado College and his master’s in ecology from California State University, Los Angeles. Pat has restored natural lands and conserved rare species in salt marshes of Southern California, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the tropical dryland and rainforests of Hawaii, and the prairies and oak woodlands of Cascadia. Pat’s expertise includes habitat restoration and management for rare species, including plants, rainforest birds and prairie butterflies, birds and mammals.

More than 20 years ago, Pat founded the South Puget Sound prairie conservation and restoration effort that originated with The Nature Conservancy and was transitioned to the Center for Natural Lands Management in 2011. Patrick provides direction, management and oversight for CNLM’s preserves and operations in Washington. Under his direction the South Puget Sound Program was designated the pilot for the Sentinel Landscapes Program, a federal initiative that brings together three federal agencies to assist conservation in a specific landscape, in this case the South Sound Prairies.

If you visit Prairie Appreciation Day in May at the Glacial Heritage Preserve you will now see about 600 acres of blue camas, yellow buttercups and a myriad of other flowers, a much different sight than the wall of Scotch broom prior to restoration. You can visit a patch of federally listed golden paintbrush that today contains more individuals than were present in the world ten years ago. Pat helped this plant on its way to one of the fastest trajectories ever to become a delisted species. Similarly, you might be lucky enough to see some Taylor’s checkerspots, a federally listed butterfly that was reintroduced.

Pat’s restoration efforts started with helping Joint Base Lewis-McChord on their prairies – improving the Army’s training lands for both the soldiers and conservation. That relationship with the Dept. of Defense remains today, and provides major funding of prairie conservation efforts in the South Sound, both on and off military lands. Pat also initiated much of the infrastructure needed to conduct restorations throughout the region. Fire is a historically important process on prairies, and Pat’s group now leads the greatest number of prescribed burns in the Northwest.

They work with the Evergreen State College Sustainability in Prisons Project, where inmates grow and plant a hundred thousand plant plugs each year, benefitting both conservation and the community of inmates. They also employ vets from the Veterans Conservation Corps providing the simple joy of working outdoors alongside a mission driven team dedicated to conservation.

Furthermore, Pat has completed a number of critical land acquisitions advancing efforts to protect the South Puget Sound Prairies. He assisted with the Black Hills Audubon and Friend’s project, the West Rocky Prairie Wildlife Area. Pat advised our attempt to save this area from development by Citifor and the Port of Tacoma. Through the negotiations, the initial owner sold the site to the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, creating a wildlife area that supports western spotted frogs, golden paintbrush and Mazama pocket gophers. We also procured a mitigation fund that continues to support conservation projects on the wildlife area.

Pat has cultivated partnerships with diverse groups, developing innovative conservation strategies to facilitate prairie conservation throughout the ecoregion, from British Columbia through the Willamette Valley. We thank Pat for his tremendous work. (By Elizabeth Roderick, graphic freestock.ca )