The field office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura is pleased to announce that local Service botanist, Connie Rutherford, received the 2017 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion award; recognizing her work to advance the recovery of endangered and threatened species along the California coast.
Each year the Service recognizes employees and conservation partners from each geographical region who exemplify dedication and commitment to endangered species recovery. Rutherford was selected to represent the Pacific Southwest Region, covering California and parts of Oregon and Nevada.
Rutherford has worked as a botanist for the Service for 28 years, and within other federal agencies for a total of 34 years.
“Connie’s dedication to conserving some of the rarest plants in California has directly contributed to preventing extinction in some cases,” said Steve Henry, field supervisor for the Service in Ventura. “Her combined knowledge of the Service’s listing and recovery policy, plant biology, and the conservation community have also made her an invaluable resource in connecting the Service and our partners with institutions that support conservation efforts.”
Rutherford coordinated recovery plans for many plant species in Southern California, to include San Benito evening primrose, robust spineflower and six other species found in the mountains around the Los Angeles basin.
She facilitated actions resulting in the removal of the Eureka Valley evening primrose from the federal endangered species list, and down listing the Santa Cruz cypress and Eureka dune grass from endangered to threatened.
Over her more-than-30-year career her passion for plant conservation led her to develop partnerships between research institutions and conservation organizations. These relationships are key to recognizing and implementing recovery actions necessary for conservation of plant species and their habitats.
“This is much more than just a job for her,” said Ray Bransfield, Rutherford’s husband and fellow Service employee. “I think one of the things that’s so remarkable about Connie is how she works with people.”
Rutherford has filled numerous leadership roles within the California Native Plant Society, a network of partners dedicated to plant conservation; and also, with the help of three other female botanists, created Botswap, a forum for dialogue and information sharing within the botanical community along California’s central coast.
“Connie's decades-long, active engagement with the plant research and conservation community enables her to collaborate with species experts to address questions that contribute to conservation of our listed plants,” said Cat Darst, Rutherford’s supervisor and assistant field supervisor for the Service in Ventura. “These relationships are critical to help our partners recognize what steps are needed to recover our listed plant species.”
To read more about Rutherford’s self-described “biodiverse” career, click here: https://go.usa.gov/xQR3m