Two dedicated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service professionals and a long–time land conservation partner are the recipients of the 2012 National Realty Awards.

The winners of the three awards presented annually by the National Wildlife Refuge System Division of Realty are Richard Grimes of the Service’s Pacific Southwest Region; Jon Dyasuk, a refuge interpreter in Alaska; and the nonprofit Trust for Public Land.

Dieffenbach Award

Pacific Southwest Region supervisory realty specialist Richard Grimes is the recipient of the Rudolph Dieffenbach Award. The award is given to a Division of Realty employee for significant contributions to the Service’s land acquisition systems, operation or mission.

Grimes played a key role with The Nature Conservancy in acquiring the pending $18 million, 1,905–acre Hidden Valley parcel within San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, CA. His extraordinary level of coordination and cooperation ensured that lands at risk for residential development came into the Refuge System, thereby further consolidating public land ownership in the highly urbanized San Diego area.

The transaction was particularly complex in light of funding sources, including $8 million from Customs and Border Protection. Grimes’s attention to detail—especially legal and legislative authority—was important in securing the transaction.

Land Legacy Award

Jon Dyasuk of Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska received the Land Legacy Award for significant contributions to the Service’s mission. The award is given to a Service employee or volunteer who does not work in the realty function.

Dyasuk, an Alaska Native (Yupik Eskimo), has been a Service refuge interpreter at the 4.7–million–acre refuge for 25 years. He has provided invaluable support to Alaska Region realty specialists by acting as a bridge between the Service and Yupik landowners, most of whom are elders and do not speak English.

His contacts with the landowners and skills as a Yupik interpreter, along with his understanding of Alaska Native culture, are primary reasons for the success of the region’s acquisition program at Togiak Refuge. Dyasuk has contributed to the acquisition of more than 6,000 acres within the refuge, including designated wilderness.

National Land Protection Award

The Trust for Public Land 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.

For decades, “the Trust for Public Lands has been one of our cornerstones that furthers our agency’s acquisition efforts,” Refuge System Headquarters realty chief Eric Alvarez said in presenting the award at last fall’s Land Trust Alliance Rally in Salt Lake City. “TPL has helped us conserve over 300,000 acres with an estimated market value of over $220 million.These acres have become part of the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

TPL is a national nonprofit that conserves land for parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands and other natural places. It works from the inner city to wilderness, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. TPL has helped conserve land at more than 50 refuges.

Most recently, TPL has helped the Service conserve more than 3,000 acres at Valle de Oro Refuge, NM; Silvio O. Conte Refuge, which spans four New England states in the Connecticut River watershed; Umbagog Refuge, NH; and Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge, NJ.