News Release

May 16, 2014

Washington's Lisa Bellefond Honored as Endangered Species Recovery Champion

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May 16, 2014

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today recognized 55 individuals and teams for their exceptional efforts to conserve and protect the nation’s rarest fish, wildlife and plants by designating them 2013 Recovery Champions. Among the award winners honored for their work this year is Washington’s Lisa Bellefond, the external affairs director for the Puget Sound Partnership.

“We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to these dedicated conservationists who are on the front lines fighting the battle against extinction,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Their spirit and determination is the application of Aldo Leopold’s counsel to ‘keep every cog and wheel,’ and they provide hope for all of us that our children and the generations that follow will be able to enjoy the same tremendous diversity of plants and animals that we do today.”

A recovery champion for the South Puget Sound Prairies for more than a decade, Bellefond brought together representatives of the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and the Interior in the Sentinel Landscape Initiative, integrating national security, food security, ecosystem restoration, and species recovery.  The initiative has already been credited with an investment of $6 million towards permanently protecting habitat for the streaked-horned lark, Taylor’s checkerspot butterfly, golden paintbrush, and Mazama pocket gopher.  With Bellefond’s support, Thurston County received $1.8 million in Habitat Conservation Planning grants during three years to develop a countywide plan to benefit 16 species  in prairies, oak woodlands, and grasslands.

Through her advocacy, Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Army Compatible Use Buffer program became the first in the nation to adopt the strategy of acquiring and restoring lands off the post, a key step in launching the expansive Sentinel Landscapes.  A leader in collaborating and innovating, Bellefond has engaged diverse partners in protecting prairies and working lands for sustainable economic development.

“Lisa has been a true champion for conservation in the Puget Sound area for many years now.  She is an essential part of the partnership network in Washington,” said Robyn Thorson, the Service’s Pacific Region Director. “Lisa’s advocacy on the Sentinel Lands partnership has made it possible for the Service, in coordination with U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Defense, to conserve and improve nonmilitary, rural working land for critical wildlife habitat, thus ensuring that essential military training can continue at Joint Base Lewis McChord,” 

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 2013 Recovery Champions, please visit: