Office of External Affairs
Mountain-Prairie Region


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Mountain-Prairie Region
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 20, 2009   

Contact:  Diane Katzenberger 303-236-4578


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species

Recovery Champion Awards


Elaine York, West Desert Regional Director for The Nature Conservancy in Utah and

Mark Butler (posthumously) Platte River Recovery Program Liaison Receive Awards


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Rowan Gould today announced the 18 recipients of the 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.   


The Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region recognizes two recovery champions for their contributions to the conservation and recovery of imperiled species.


Before his untimely death, Mark Butler worked tirelessly to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to protect and restore river-related habitat in Nebraska for four endangered species as well as other native species.  As the Service’s Platte River Liaison, Mark worked with representatives from the State of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, water users, and various environmental organizations to develop a cooperative approach to river recovery - the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program.   


“Mark was instrumental in developing working relationships with partners outside the Service that led to a program promising real progress in habitat recovery,” said Steve Guertin, Director of the Mountain-Prairie Region.  


While only in its initial stages, the recovery program is already showing progress toward acquiring the requisite land and water resources it has committed to secure during the first 13-year increment.   Mark also worked to funnel mitigation funding to continuing Platte River channel restoration work being done by the Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and others prior to implementation of the Platte Recovery Program.


In 2008, a record number of endangered whooping cranes were observed using the central Platte River, and terns and plovers have returned to nest on river sandbars in reaches of the river where they had not nested for years.  For more information about this award and the Platte River Recovery Project, please call Greg Wingfield  at 308-382-6468 ext 18.


For the past decade, Elaine York, West Desert Regional Director for The Nature Conservancy, has been actively involved in species protection and land conservation in southwestern Utah.  Her numerous achievements include developing conservation partnerships and securing funding for research and land acquisition, 


One of Elaine’s significant accomplishments is the development and acquisition of the White Dome Nature Preserve in South St. George.  The Preserve will provide habitat for wildflowers, reptiles, birds, and mammals including two endangered plants and five State-sensitive species.  Coordinating with the State of Utah, Elaine sought and achieved funding matches for grants to purchase over 250 acres in the 800-acre Preserve.


“Elaine has shown tremendous perseverance in her goal of ensuring long-term protection of southern Utah’s threatened and endangered species.  She is a highly effective facilitator and has brought together a diverse group of partners who are making the White Dome Nature Preserve a success,” said Guertin.  “We are indebted to Elaine for her vision and enthusiasm.”  For more information about this award and the White Dome Nature Preserve, please call Larry Crist, the Service’s Utah Field Office Project Leader, at 801-975-3330.


For additional information, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Recovery Champion website at:


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