Two Californians instrumental in the transfer of Skaggs Island to San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and a group of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service professionals are recipients of the 2011 National Realty Awards.

The winners of the three awards presented each year by the Refuge System Division of Realty are Stephen Dyer of the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region; Alexandra Elias of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command in San Diego; and the Service/Refuge System Cadastral Data Working Group.

Dieffenbach Award

Pacific Southwest Region senior realty officer Stephen Dyer is the recipient of the Rudolph Dieffenbach Award. The award is presented annually to a Division of Realty employee for significant contributions to the Service’s land acquisition systems, operation or mission.

“Steve has successfully concluded most of the difficult land acquisition negotiations within the FWS Pacific Southwest Region over the last 8–10 years,” regional refuge chief Marge Kolar said in nominating Dyer.

Kolar credited Dyer with playing an important role in: the transfer of the Skaggs Island from the Navy to San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, CA; major land acquisitions at Upper Klamath Refuge, CA; the establishment of, and initial acquisitions at, Tulare Basin Wildlife Management Area, CA; the acquisition of the future headquarters site at San Pablo Bay Refuge; and other land–related issues.

National Land Protection Award

Alexandria Elias, a civilian employee of the Navy, received the National Land Protection Award. It is given to private citizens, groups, organizations, corporations, public agencies and their employees or volunteers outside the Service, for contributions to land protection for fish and wildlife resources in partnership with the Service.

Elias helped pave the way for legislation that led to a memorandum of agreement between the Secretaries of the Navy and the Interior regarding the transfer of Skaggs Island to the Service. The legislation also allowed the Navy to utilize available state funding for removal of infrastructure to facilitate the transfer.

“Ms. Elias worked diligently with the Service, California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Bay Conservation and Development Commission, California Department of Transportation, nonprofit organizations and private landowners to ensure the cleanup was complete and that repairs to pumps and other infrastructure were accomplished prior to transfer,” San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex project leader Mendel Stewart said. “Without her efforts, we do not believe this transfer would have been successful.”

Land Legacy Award

The Service/Refuge System Cadastral Data Working Group received the Land Legacy Award.

The group, led by former Service chief cartographer Doug Vandegraft and current chief cartographer Sean Killen, is composed of a fluid roster of geographers, biologists, cartographers, surveyors and IT professionals. The names of the individuals who will be honored had not been finalized as Refuge Update went to print, but the group en masse was cited for developing and deploying the FWS Lands Mapper.

The Web–based Lands Mapper is designed for use by non–geographic information system (GIS) specialists. It provides detailed topographical, street and aerial views of refuge boundaries, trails and roads nationwide, complete with latitudinal/longitudinal coordinates. It also can display comprehensive acquisition information about individual refuge tracts.

The Lands Mapper is available to Department of the Interior employees using work computers at