News Release

May 16, 2013

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Announces Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award Winners

Media Contacts:
Joan Jewett, 503-231-6211
Miel Corbett, 503-231-2111

The story of endangered species conservation in the United States over the past 40 years involves many heroes. Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recognized 61 of these heroes nationwide for their outstanding efforts to conserve and protect endangered and threatened fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2012 Recovery Champions.
In the Service’s Pacific Region, the award winners include the 12 members of the Northern Spotted Owl Modeling Team, recognized for their development of a state-of-the-art modeling framework used to evaluate and refine a critical habitat network for the threatened northern spotted owl, and two members of the Region’s Coastal Program Team.
“Recovery Champion awards acknowledge individuals and groups who have excelled in their efforts to protect and recover our most imperiled species,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “They exemplify the dedication and determination that has helped save countless animals and plants from extinction and that continues to raise the bar in the field of endangered species conservation.”
The Northern Spotted Owl Modeling team includes eight federal scientists, three university scientists and one private-sector GIS specialist who were tasked with developing and applying modeling tools for use in designing habitat conservation networks and evaluating their contribution to spotted owl recovery. The models developed by the team synthesized more than 20 years of data from on-the-ground demographic surveys and allowed for analysis of how spotted owl populations would fare under different habitat conservation scenarios. It was the first time modeling tools were used to help designate critical habitat for a species.
The team includes Brian Woodbridge, Brendan White, Betsy Glenn and Jim Thrailkill of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Jeffrey Dunk of Humboldt State University; David LaPlante of Natural Resource Geospatial in Yreka, CA; Nathan Schumaker of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Bruce Marcot, Ray Davis and Martin Raphael of the U.S. Forest Service; and Katie Dugger and Bob Anthony of Oregon State University.
The Coastal Program Team includes Ginger Phalen and Curtis Tanner, biologists in the Service’s office in Lacey, Washington. Recognizing the potential of National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants, Phalen and Tanner have shown leadership, teamwork and initiative—with impressive results— in protecting key Puget Sound habitats in perpetuity to benefit bull trout, marbled murrelets and Chinook salmon. Among the partners Phalen and Tanner worked with is the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. During the last 11 years, Phalen and Tanner have preserved and restored almost 9,400 acres of coastal and forested habitats in Puget Sound and since 2006 an average of 30 percent of coastal grant funds nationally has been directed to projects in Washington state.
Robyn Thorson, Director of the Service’s Pacific Region, praised the regional Recovery Champions for their innovations and leadership.
“The accomplishments of these dedicated professionals are making a big difference in how we in the Pacific Northwest manage our forests and coastal habitats,” Thorson said. “Some of the region’s most iconic species, such as the northern spotted owl and salmon, have been helped, along with we humans who benefit from a healthy environment, too.”
The Recovery Champion awards began in 2002 as a one-time recognition for Service staff members for their achievements in conserving listed species. However, in 2007, the program was expanded to honor Service partners as well, recognizing their essential role in the recovery of threatened and endangered species.
For information about the 2012 Recovery Champions, please visit:
America’s fish, 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, go to