Past Recipients

SER Gallery of Award Honorees

SER Awards have been a highlight of our Annual and World Conferences since 1994. The Society owes gratitude to the first Awards Committee Chair, Karl Smith, and his founding committee members, for developing this excellent program of recognition.

The following archive catalogs the special achievements of individuals and organizations that have been honored by the Society for advancing the science and practice ecological restoration. We encourage you to participate in this process by making your own nomination in a coming awards cycle.

2013

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: David Polster

This award honors those who have dedicated their time and skills to the advancement of ecological restoration and/or to the development of the Society. 

The Society recognizes David Polster for his important and ongoing contributions to ecological restoration and SER.  He was one of the founders of the British Columbia chapter and has served as its treasurer since the chapter was founded. He was also treasurer for the organizing committee for the 2004 SER meeting at the University of Victoria. Dave has 30 years of experience as a restoration practitioner, regularly teaches students at the University of Victoria, and is respected across Canada for his innovative work in restoration and reclamation.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Bill Kleiman

This award honors individuals who have made significant advancements to the science or techniques used in restoration practices. 

SER recognizes Bill Kleiman, the project director for The Nature Conservancy’s Nachusa Grasslands in north-central Illinois. Bill is widely respected for his outstanding stewardship of the Nachusa Grasslands and his ground-breaking work utilizing volunteers to help establish and maintain the greater than 3000-acre site. Bill is actively engaged in several research projects that advance the science of ecological restoration by investigating variable seeding rates for prairie recreations, methods of over-seeding prairies to enhance diversity, and techniques for improved control of invasive species. Bill exhibits great service to the broader restoration and stewardship community, including as a founding member and past-president of the Illinois Prescribed Fire Council and leader within the Grassland Restoration Network.

FULL CIRCLE AWARD: Michael Keefer and Robert Williams

The Full Circle Award is given in recognition of restoration projects that incorporate the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples in significant ways and reflect a balance between indigenous and non-indigenous knowledge and techniques in the project’s design and implementation. 

SER presents the Full Circle Award to Michael Keefer M.Sc., P.Ag. and Robert Williams for their work with the Tipi Mountain Native Plant Nursery. It is the premier native plant nursery in the Southern Interior/Kootenay Region of British Columbia. Robert is a young Ktunaxa elder who specializes in archaeology and GIS, and whose vision led to the creation of Tipi Mountain Native Plants. Tipi Mountain Native Plants is a majority aboriginal-owned business and employs First Nation and non-First Nation staff. The business is focused on providing native plant material that is local to each project, and is suited for ecological restoration, reclamation, site remediation, and landscaping uses.

COMMUNICATION AWARD: John Liu and the Environmental Education Media Project

The Communication Award acknowledges the importance of all forms of communications that advance the goals of the Society.

SER recognizes John Liu and the Environmental Education Media Project for their thought-provoking, beautifully photographed and timely video productions that highlight both functional and damaged ecosystems. Many of their productions have examined the successes and occasional failures of ecological restoration projects around the world – in China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Mozambique, Haiti, and Portugal. These videos have reached a large audience and greatly increased awareness of the benefits of ecological restoration.

SER SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Dr. Richard Hobbs

SER presents a Special Recognition Award to honor Richard Hobbs for his achievements as editor-in-chief of the Society’s flagship journal Restoration Ecology. Richard is an inspirational scientist and ecologist and has made a significant contribution to improving our understanding of the regeneration of degraded ecosystems. In particular, he has helped form a growing link between the science underpinning restoration, and the practice that then informs that science. His efforts as editor-in-chief have been instrumental in making Restoration Ecology an even more successful journal and have helped introduce practical considerations into the science of restoration, while increasing the rigor of restoration practice. 

2011

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Dr. Peter C. 'Rocky' Smiley Jr.

The Society presented the 2011 John Rieger Award to Dr. Peter C. ‘Rocky’ Smiley Jr. of the USDA Agricultural Research Station in Columbus, Ohio. The John Rieger Award recognizes those who have dedicated their time and skills to the advancement of ecological restoration and/or to the development
of the Society. 

The Midwest region is the birthplace of SER and a major center for the development and growth of the ecological restoration movement. Thus, it is vital that SER has an active and vigorous chapter in the Midwest to carry on the traditions established there. While the SER Midwest-Great Lakes Chapter is currently one of the Society’s most active chapters, that was not the case less than a decade ago. When Dr. Smiley arrived in Columbus in 2005, the former SER Ohio Chapter was defunct and had been dissolved. Thanks to Dr. Smiley’s leadership and dedication, in less than three years, this former chapter was not only revitalized but expanded to include the entire Great Lakes region. SER looks forward to collaborating with this reinvigorated chapter as we celebrate our 25th anniversary in Madison, Wisconsin in 2013.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Dr. Steven N. Handel

The Society conferred this year’s Theodore M. Sperry award on Dr. Steven Handel of Rutgers University and the Center for Urban Restoration Ecology. The Theodore M. Sperry award honors individuals who have made significant advancements to the science and/or practice of ecological restoration. 

Dr. Handel is a pioneer in the restoration of urban sites, particularly highly degraded urban sites. He is best known for his work at the Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York, Orange County Great Park in California, and the landscapes surrounding the 2008 Olympic Games sites in Beijing, China. In addition to his work on urban sites, Dr. Handel has dedicated a significant portion of his career to advancing the Society, such as serving on the SER Board of Directors for four years, and as Associate Editor of Restoration Ecology, the Society’s professional journal. Currently Dr. Handel is Editor of Ecological Restoration, an affiliated journal that extends the Society’s reach and strengthens ties with practitioners, philosophers, academics, and scientists.

COMMUNICATIONS AWARD: Jesús Matos Mederos

SER recognized Jesús Matos Mederos' efforts to promote ecological restoration in Cuba and Latin America by presenting him with this year’s Communications Award. The Communications Award acknowledges individuals or groups that work to increase public awareness and acceptance of ecological restoration. It recognizes the importance of all forms of communications that advance the goals of the Society. As the founder of RIACRE (Red Iberoamericana y del Caribe de Restauración Ecológica), Sr. Matos Mederos has organized several international meetings, including the 2007 and 2009 Simposios Internacionales sobre Restauración Ecológica in Santa Clara, Cuba. His leadership in publishing the RIACRE Boletín has been vital in communicating the benefits and successes of ecological restoration throughout Latin America. The RIACRE Boletín is published quarterly and distributed free to individuals and groups in Latin America, the Caribbean, and worldwide.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Contracting Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity

Kalemani Jo Mulongoy accepted the 2011 SER Special Recognition Award on behalf of the Contracting Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. This award recognizes the CBD’s vital efforts to promote both the preservation of biodiversity and the necessity of using ecological restoration to assist with that preservation. In particular, SER recognizes the CBD’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan, which represents a significant advancement in the way in which restoration is integrated into global biodiversity policy. It provides a framework for national governments to combat biodiversity loss through, among other things, ensuring that the benefits of ecosystem services to all populations will be enhanced through an ecological restoration program, with an emphasis on those areas that provide crucial ecosystem services to people. By agreeing to Targets 14 and 15, Parties to the CBD have agreed to develop corresponding national and regional targets for restoration and to address these targets in their efforts to implement the objectives of the convention. These efforts are likely to lead to improved effectiveness and broader engagement in restoration activities worldwide as the global community embraces ecological restoration as a fundamental approach to combating biodiversity loss.

2009

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Keith Bowers

Keith Bowers recognized the need for ecological restoration more than 25 years ago, before it was even recognized as a field. As President and founder of Biohabitats, this internationally recognized landscape architect has planned, designed, and managed the construction of over 200 ecological restoration projects throughout the United States. Keith also teaches ecological restoration seminars and workshops and participates in numerous industry panels.

Keith Bowers joined the Board of Directors of SER International in San Francisco at the 11th annual conference in 1999. Keith’s business acumen was immediately put to effective use when he was named treasurer of the Society in 2001. From that point on, Keith’s focused direction and leadership became apparent, and he was named Vice Chair of the Society in 2002 and Chair of the Society a year later. Keith’s leadership during his time as Chair and Vice Chair brought new direction and focus for the Board and staff that has directly led to the health and stability that we experience today as an organization. In 2008, Keith agreed to serve as the Society’s first Global Restoration Ambassador, a role he continues to fulfill at present and one that has him working in various capacities to promote the Society and provide experienced leadership wherever required – most recently in the development of the Society’s Certification Program for ecological restoration practitioners.

Keith has also been a tremendous ambassador for the Society in the International policy arena, beginning in 2003 when he was part of a team of SER representatives travelling to Malaysia to participate in the Commission for Ecosystem Management of the IUCN. 2003 also saw Keith participate in the World Parks Congress in South Africa, where he continued to spread the word about ecological restoration and SER International. Along with George Gann, Keith participated in the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok, Thailand in 2004 and more recently, the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in 2008. Furthermore, he was just recently named restoration theme leader for the IUCN’s Commission on Ecosystem Management.

In the history of the Society for Ecological Restoration International, there are few people who have been more passionate than Keith Bowers about spreading the word of the Society and its vision. Congratulations to the 2009 recipient of the John Rieger Award – Keith Bowers.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Dr. Wally Covington

The Theodore M. Sperry award honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to the science and/or practice of Ecological Restoration. Recipients must have demonstrated innovation and pioneering in the development of a new approach to restoration; research and development in regard to restoration methods and tools; the development of useful restoration criteria and standards; and/or the development of effective ways of integrating volunteers or involving the public in restoration programs.

More than any other single individual, Dr. W. Wallace Covington – Wally – has provided the combination of science and vision for restoration of ponderosa pine forests of North America, where he has worked for more than 30 years, both as a graduate student and then as a member of the faculty of Northern Arizona University. During this time, he has made an enormous contribution to the basic understanding of the structure and function of ponderosa pine forests, as reflected in a truly extraordinary lifetime record of publication in restoration ecology. Dr. Covington has also been the leading voice for ecological restoration in these dynamic ecosystems. He and his colleagues and students have pioneered basic approaches to restoring forest structure and keystone processes, particularly fire. 

Wally also founded and directs, the Ecological Restoration Institute (ERI), one of the leading university programs fostering a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to restoration science and practice. A generation of his students now occupies leadership positions in forest ecology, management, and restoration. Never one to remain sequestered in the ivory tower, Wally is also a key player in national and international forest policy, and an important voice in legislation promoting ecological restoration.

The Awards Committee can think of no more appropriate recipient of the 2009 Theodore M. Sperry Award than Wally Covington, and we extend our congratulations.
 

GOLDEN TROWEL AWARD: Karen Rodriguez

One of the privileges of being the Chair of the Society is that, upon stepping down, you have the opportunity to recognize the contributions of a special person or persons who helped you to achieve your work. The SERI Golden Trowel Award is given in recognition of Special Service to the Chair during his or her tenure. While acknowledging that it is becoming increasingly difficult to choose a single individual for this award, it brought me great pleasure to surprise outgoing Secretary Karen Rodriguez with the Golden Trowel Award at our awards banquet in Perth. 

Karen joined the SERI Board in 1998, during my first term as Chair, and we immediately developed a collegial and productive working relationship. Originally the Midwestern U.S. & Canadian Regional Representative, Karen helped not only to spread the word about restoration within her region, but also to promote education and training initiatives. Within Board meetings, she could always be counted on to provide thoughtful and productive contributions. Over the last five years, Karen served the Society as Secretary, a position without much limelight, but one critical to SERI’s health and development. Early on as Secretary, she worked with me to record the myriad changes to the Society’s bylaws during a period of major governance reforms. During my time as Chair, she developed a defensible and consistent process whereby the SERI Board could make decisions for the Society between meetings. Finally, Karen was always there for me to provide guidance and support when I needed it, regardless of how chaotic the period. Thank You Karen! (By George Gann, past Chair)

2007

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Bill Halvorson

Bill Halvorson has been one of SER’s most active members, practically since the founding of the organization in the mid- 1980s. Most often working behind the scenes, “his performance has been distinguished by a quiet and persistent competence,” wrote colleague Dennis Martinez, who nominated Bill for the award.

A botanist and plant ecologist, Bill has particular expertise in arid and semi-arid ecology and restoration of natural ecosystems. He was first asked by the Board, in 1988, to become a member of the Program Committee, and he helped to put together the first SER annual conference, which took place in Oakland, California. Little did he know that he would still be coordinating programs for SER conferences 19 years later.

Bill served for three years on the Standards Committee, and then became Treasurer of SER for nine years. When he stepped down as Treasurer in 2001, he remained on the Board as an At-Large Representative through 2004. And in 2002, he became chair of the Conference Working Group, a position he will hold through 2007.

While Bill was developing his particular expertise in arid and semi-arid ecology and restoration of natural ecosystems, and gaining wide experience with research and education programs related to natural resource management and natural area public policy and law, he was also becoming an expert on conference logistics, financial spreadsheets and navigating airports around the world.

As a volunteer for SER, he traveled across the globe to help coordinate and plan world conferences for the Society. He served as Program Chair for the 6-day, joint SER/ESA annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona in 2002, and also for the joint SER/ESA meeting in San Jose, California, in 2007. He generously shared his wealth of knowledge and experience as a member of the SER Site Visit and Planning Team for the 2003 Austin, Texas, annual meeting and for the Zaragoza, Spain, 2005 World Conference on Ecological Restoration.

Bill is an inspiration to those who work to fulfill SER’s mission. He has enthusiastically served the Society with energy, dedication, and graciousness. Passionate about ecological restoration, he has honored the field by donating thousands of hours of his time to SER during the last 20 years of his 45-year professional career. “Bill is the quintessential scientist,” wrote Martinez. “He has demonstrated great dedication to both his professional field and to SER.

Bill will be retiring from SER service after the San Jose conference. He richly deserves to be honored with the John Rieger Award for his numerous contributions to SER and the field of ecological restoration.” The Board heartily agrees, and offers its congratulations and sincerest thanks to Bill Halvorson for his outstanding service to the field and to the Society.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Edward Redente

As a professor of Restoration Ecology at the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University in the United States, Edward has inspired colleagues, students and collaborators for more than a quarter of a century as a teacher, researcher, author and advocate for ecological restoration.

While acting as Director of the Center for Ecological Risk Assessment and Management, Edward incorporated sound ecological restoration research that had originally been addressed to the academic community and made it applicable to practitioners and land managers. His role allowed him to influence the restoration practices of many different organizations, both public and private, in the United States. He received numerous research grants from various entities including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Defense, the National Park Service and numerous natural gas and mining companies.

Specializing in the ecology of disturbed lands, and with his personal interest in plant ecology and plant– soil relationships, Edward has improved the field’s understanding of the methods and mechanics of restoring some of the more drastically disturbed ecosystems. For example, he helped to develop metal toxicity thresholds for numerous plant species commonly used in mine land restoration plans.

Throughout his career, he has been prolific, authoring and co-authoring more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and six book chapters related to the restoration of soils, heavily disturbed ecosystems, invasive species and rangeland ecosystems of the western United States. He has also been a leading educator of restoration. At Colorado State University, Edward was appointed Interim Department Head of the Warner College of Natural Resources Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship Department. He became Vice Provost for Research, and was later tapped to serve as Interim Dean of the College.

After many years of teaching, research, writing and being an inspiration in the field, Edward retired this year. He leaves behind an impressive legacy. The Board of Directors offers its congratulations to Edward Redente for his pioneering work in the field of ecological restoration.

COMMUNICATION AWARD: James Aronson

In the history of the field of ecological restoration, there are few people who have been more passionate than James about spreading the word about the need for ecological restoration. James has traveled across the world to speak and write and teach about the importance of restoring all nature’s goods and services for the benefit of people. Not only has James been dedicated, but he has also been extremely effective in enriching the public conversation about restoration.

Based in France, James recently created the Restoring Natural Capital (RNC) Alliance. His focus on restoring natural capital has been the subject of his numerous presentations at conferences, journal and popular writings, papers, books, and website, www.rncalliance.org, With cofounders James Blignaut, Andy Clewell, and Olga Martha Montiel, the RNC Alliance is an international network of nonprofit, non-governmental organizations that offer locally appropriate solutions to resolve environmental and economic development problems simultaneously, in underdeveloped countries and industrialized countries alike. The RNC Alliance has projects in the Mediterranean Basin, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, Latin America and South Asia.

In addition to his pioneering work communicating the mission and importance of the RNC in as many venues as possible around the world, James also has served as editor of the SER/Island Press Book Series. During a period of just a few years, he has facilitated the publication of 13 seminal books on restoration ecology.

“In my opinion, James Aronson proves that one person can make a difference for the better, even in the troubled and damaged world today,” wrote Sue Milton in her nominating letter. The Board of Directors offers its congratulations to James Aronson for being a passionate and effective advocate for restoration.

2005

JOHN REIGER AWARD: Don Eastman

Through the John Rieger Award the Society acknowledges its debt to those who dedicate their time and skills to advance environmental restoration and/or to advance SER International. Recipients of this award must have made major contributions to environmental restoration, the Society, or both, and have had significant impact on the theory, practice, or public awareness of restoration.

The 2005 Rieger award recipient, Don Eastman, is the faculty coordinator of the award-winning Restoration of Natural Systems (RNS) program at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Through this program and teaching he educates and inspires many restoration professionals and undergraduates about restoration.

He is involved in many community groups and projects; throughout his career he has conducted extensive research and published numerous scientific studies that contribute to environment-restoration knowledge. He is a founding member of SER British Columbia and served as president.

After a 32-year career as a conservation wildlife biologist with the Ministry of the Environment, British Columbia, followed by a five-year career focused on environmental restoration as head of the RNS program, Eastman is retiring.
 

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: William Mitsch

The Sperry Award honors pioneers and innovators in environmental restoration who advance the Society's goals. It is named for Theodore M. Sperry (1907-1995), a prominent environmentalist and professor emeritus of botany and ecology at Pittsburgh State University.

William Mitsch, professor of natural resources and environmental science, Ohio State University, was awarded the Theodore M. Sperry Award for his wetland research spanning 35 years. A pioneer in ecological engineering, he is founder and editor-in-chief of Ecological Engineering, the leading publication in the field.

He is one of the most influential scholars and educators in the field, publishing more than 160 scientific articles and 13 books. His book Wetlands is the standard textbook for university wetland classes throughout the world and a standard reference for wetland practitioners.

His innovative research shaped many aspects of today's theories and practice of wetland restoration and creation, ecological engineering, wetland modeling, and wetland education. He was president of the Society of Wetland Scientists from 1994-96.

Recipient of numerous awards, in 2004 Mitsch received the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden for his contributions to environmental understanding, conservation, and wetland restoration.

COMMUNICATION AWARD: Richard Scott

The Communication Award recognizes the organization or individual who improves environmental restoration and increases public awareness and acceptance of the activity. Designated for 2005 is Richard Scott, senior project manager of Landlife located in Liverpool, England.

Landlife is a nonprofit British wildlife conservation agency. Working mainly in urban and urban fringe areas, the organization creatively uses wildflower mixes to bring nature and people together. Scott receives the Communication Award for Wildflowers Work. The publication has inspired thousands of people to participate in creative woodland conservation projects. The guide condenses Landlife's experience over 27 years and features wildflower projects implemented in 12 national community forests in the U.K. over the last four years. Wildflowers Work highlights several exceptional restoration projects, including the use of recycled clothing and cockleshells as soil for tree and wildflower plantings.

Landlife's philosophy is "Working with people for nature, working with nature for people." The perspective acclaims the benefits of promoting nature where people live. Landlife has been influential in applying this philosophy by taking conservation out of parks and nature reserves and into people’s lives.

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: Puget Creek Restoration Society

Restoration projects that have truly advanced ecosystem restoration and on which future projects may well be modeled are eligible for the Society's Model Projects Award. Projects must be 10 years old or older and meet at least some of the goals or standards of the plans.

The 2005 Model Project Award was given to the Puget Creek Restoration Society (PCRS). Nearly two decades of effort has made the Tacoma, Washington, organization the leader for restoration and maintenance studies in the area.

Working with local industries, organizations, and citizens, PCRS 
developed a bold plan to restore a 66-acre wetland habitat, including reestablishing plant diversity and habitats for fish and wildlife. PCRS joined with the Tacoma Neighborhood Network Center and developed a program that enables mobility impaired, developmentally disabled, and sight and/or hearing challenged individuals to be involved in stream restoration. The process is published and is available to all groups and agencies.

The organization developed an outreach program to the diving community to participate in eelgrass research. Some consider eelgrass a nuisance weed which adversely affects the quantity and quality of shellfish. PCRS coordinated the research with local and state agencies and universities.

2004

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Kern Ewing and Warren Gold

Kern Ewing and Warren Gold, of the University of Washington's (UW) Restoration Ecology Network received the award for their instrumental work promoting the theory and science of ecological restoration, as well as contributing to the advancement of ecological restoration science and practice. They head the UW-Restoration Ecology Network (UW-REN), which serves as a regional center to integrate student, faculty and community interests in ecological restoration and conservation. The core of the UW-REN mission is to advance higher education in restoration while helping the Pacific Northwest region meet the growing needs and challenges of ecological restoration. This comes at a crucial time for the Pacific Northwest, as that region grapples with the conservation of endangered species and natural landscapes in the face of rapid human population growth and urbanization.

For students at the university, UW-REN offers interdisciplinary curricula and undergraduate research (Capstone experiences) in restoration. Because of the work of Ewing and Gold, students at UW's three campuses (Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma) have access to learning about ecological restoration, including electronic courses; multi-disciplinary, comprehensive restoration project experiences; student restoration projects and internships; and intensive restoration sites associated with each campus.

Not only does the UW-REN program reach university students, but it unites community residents and organizations, increasing public awareness of restoration. One of the highlights of the program is the Senior Capstone Project, where students of different academic backgrounds work together to complete an actual restoration project. Students learn about planning, design, installation, and monitoring of a restoration project using a team environment. Capstone experiences span three academic quarters.

Clients in the community, including local governments, utilities, non-profits, and private firms, submit requests for proposals (RFP) to UW-REN for restoration problems or opportunities. A group of 5 to 8 students involved in the Capstone reviews and responds to the RFP, and the student proposal is reviewed by faculty and the client. If the proposal is a fit for the program and the client, the students prepare a detailed work plan. Students then proceed with installation--usually with assistance from volunteers and the client. Students also prepare maintenance and monitoring plans. As the final step, the client is trained on the plan to ensure the highest probability of restoration success.

As the parties responsible for the US-REN program, Drs. Ewing and Gold were chosen to be the recipients of the 2004 John Rieger Award, which is given to those who have made major contributions to ecological restoration, the Society, or both, and who have made contributions that have had significant impact on the theory, practice, or public awareness of restoration. This award, originally called the Service Award, was renamed in 1997 to honor John Rieger who is one of the four founders of the Society and who served as its first President.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: South Carolina Oyster Restoration & Enhancement

The South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement program (SCORE) is a small, community-oriented restoration program that restores fishery habitat, excites local communities, and helps young minds explore the science of habitat restoration. Coen and Hadley have been the inspiration, architects and managers of the SCORE program since its inception in 2000. They secured funding for the program and forged partnerships to create an outstanding model for community-oriented restoration practitioners.

Nearly 95 percent of South Carolina's oysters are intertidal, which is unlike the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay. South Carolina has historically significant oyster areas whose oysters are primarily subtidal. While it might seem that restoring intertidal oysters would be easy, South Carolina's tidal creek banks consist of pluff mud--mud so soft it could "swallow a dime," according to local lore. In this precarious environment, the SCORE program has built more than 80 reefs at 24 sites with 200 tons of shell along 160 miles of the South Carolina coast.

The success of the SCORE program lies in its volunteers. South Carolina waters are blessed with an abundance of oyster larvae. The amount of oyster habitat is limited by the amount of hard substrate on which the spat can settle. SCORE volunteers collect shells from donors—restaurants, caterers and private individuals. The volunteers then place bushels of shell into mesh bags and form a human chain, moving the bags across the pluff mud and onto a reef. The mesh bag creates a stable, three-dimensional habitat that is conducive to recruitment of young oysters. The mesh bags are laid side-by-side on the shore to create a "footprint" that will eventually become a living oyster reef. Each reef is constructed of approximately 100 shell bags, and most sites have three reefs. Since 2001, nearly 9,000 hours of volunteer support have been logged building reefs by more than 2,000 individuals ranging in age from 8 to 80.

Science-based monitoring is an essential component of successful restoration programs. The information provides feedback on what works and what doesn't work. Monitoring one's projects feeds research programs invaluable data, and it also shows funders the result of their contributions. The SCORE program has more than fifty teams of volunteers that regularly monitor the recruitment and growth of oysters on the constructed reefs, the water quality of the creeks in which the reefs are located, and the health of the salt marsh that is now protected by the reef from erosive boat wakes and waves. The SCORE web site allows the volunteer monitoring army to enter data online, where it receives an instantaneous, initial quality control review (full reviews can take a week). The site also conducts graphical analyses with all data in the SCORE database. Efforts to develop lesson plans that follow the state curriculum requirements are under way.

Working on SCORE projects shapes young minds, and this legacy may be the program's most valuable long-term benefit. Sixteen schools and several scout troops have built SCORE reefs and serve in the monitoring army. A local scout troop enjoyed their SCORE experience so much that it was written up as a feature story in the March 2002 issue of Boys Life—a magazine with a monthly audience of 7 million readers. In addition, SCORE projects have been featured in more than 135 newspaper articles since 2001. Several SCORE volunteers have used their SCORE experience as the basis for science fair projects. This past school year, two of these volunteers finished first and third place overall in the Lowcountry science fair; these two students reflect a competition that involved more than a thousand students (sixth through eighth grades) from a five-county area. In addition, the Beaufort Marine Institute, which is a member of the Associated Marine Institutes, Inc., a non-profit organization that operates more than 50 programs for juvenile offenders, uses SCORE projects to provide its youth with constructive, hands-on learning experiences.

The SCORE program augments is small state budget with funds that are competitively earned from several sources, including the Community-based Restoration Program (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Five Star Restoration Program (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), the Fish America Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association, and South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. SCORE has leveraged its resources with other community-oriented programs, such as the South Carolina Phytoplankton Monitoring Network.

For their success in developing SCORE and for the model program that SCORE has become, Hadley and Coen were chosen to receive the Theodore M. Sperry award, which recognizes achievements that improve restoration programs. Recipients are innovators and pioneers in restoration. Other restorationists "stand on their shoulders" because they truly lead the way.

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: Parks Canada National Park System

Parks Canada National Park System's Fire Management Program was recognized by SER with the 2004 Model Project Award for its leadership in fire management. The broad goal of Parks Canada's National Parks System is to preserve, protect and present representative natural landscapes throughout Canada. One of the more difficult ecological processes to manage is the significant role of fire. Eliminating fire from ecosystems by suppressing wildfires is like shutting out the wind or the rain. The use of controlled burns is helping to reintroduce fire into ecological management practices, and it is recognized that fire has shaped landscapes across Canada and around the world. Many ecosystems have evolved with fire and depend on it for renewal. The restoration of ecological integrity through the appropriate re-introduction of fire has represented a unique opportunity for Parks Canada.

In La Mauricie National Park of Canada, in Quebec, for example, prescribed burns have been implemented in white pine communities to encourage white pine regeneration. Twenty years of prescribed burning accompanied by careful monitoring has resulted in a significant regeneration of white pine in these communities. Parks Canada's staff's relentless efforts have contributed to establishing a fine balance between sustaining fire-dependent ecosystems and providing fire protection.

For their outstanding work, Parks Canada was given SER's 2004 Model Project Award, which recognizes those restoration projects that have truly advanced the craft of ecosystem restoration and upon which future projects may well be modeled.

2003

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: George Gann

The John Rieger Award was established to recognize those who have dedicated their time and skills to the advancements of ecological restoration and/or to the development of the Society. Past recipients have included Andre Clewell and William Niering. This year’s John Rieger Award has been given to George Gann. Gann is one of the founding members of SER International and has been one of the longest-serving board members of the Society (10 years) including serving as chair of SER International's Board of Directors.

Gann’s work on SER International's behalf has been tireless. Gann hosted the 1997 International Conference in Florida and was instrumental in creating the Conference Planning Working Group. Gann currently chairs the Membership Working Group where he has been active in the formation of new chapters, particularly in Europe. Gann’s recent focus has been helping to improve relationships between chapters and SER International. He has represented SER at a number of key meetings in North America, the West Indies, Europe, and Asia served SER particularly well as a delegate to the recent SER/IUCN summit in Malaysia. Gann was instrumental in helping draft the SER/IUCN collaborative documents, Global Rationale for Ecological Restoration and the Framework for the Selection and Description of Case Studies in Ecological Restoration.

Gann is a field botanist and Executive Director of The Institute for Regional Conservation in Miami, Florida. His intense interest in the floristic elements of restoration design, and work on restoring rare plant populations and the ecosystems they inhabit has lead him to become a staunch SER volunteer and luminary in the field of restoration over the years.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Oliver Henry Knowles

Oliver Henry Knowles was awarded the SER Theodore M. Sperry Award in recognition of his contributions to the science and art of tropical forest ecosystem restoration. The Theodore M. Sperry Award recognizes achievement in the innovation and improvement of restoration practices. Recipients are pioneers in restoration, leading the way for the rest of the field. Knowles is such a pioneer, particularly in the field of native forest restoration on open-cast mining sites.

Born in Sussex, England in 1929, Knowles has enjoyed an adventurous life and varied career as a surveyor, forester, educator, and environmentalist in his native U.K., as well as Egypt, Sierra Leone, Peru, and his adopted home, Brazil, where he has lived and worked since 1963. He served as a technical advisor and instructor for FAO’s mission to the Brazilian Amazon in the 1960s, during which time he developed an extensive knowledge of Amazonian forest ecosystems and their management. He continued his involvement in industrial forestry in the Brazilian States of Amapá and Pará in the 1970s, joining the staff of the Brazilian mining company Mineraçao Rio do Norte, S.A. (MRN) as manager of the company’s Environmental Department for its newly-opened bauxite mining operations in Trombetas, Pará (the world’s largest producer of aluminum ore) located on the Trombetas River, a northern tributary of the Amazon River in north-central Amazonia. During his tenure with MRN, he was responsible for the development and management of the company’s reforestation of open-cast bauxite mines, as well as other programs for environmental protection, urban forestry, and erosion control associated with the bauxite mine and its transportation, processing, and urban infrastructure. He held this position until 1987, when he became Environmental Advisor to MRN on issues related to environmental policy, education, preservation, research and development.

Knowles pioneered work in the development of all aspects of an integrated approach to native forest restoration for the approximately 50 hectares of “primary” forest lands destroyed annually by open-cast mining at Trombetas. When he began this work in 1977, not a single published paper on Amazonian forest restoration existed, virtually nothing was known (by scientists and forest managers) about the life histories, propagation, site requirements and silviculture of all but a handful of the many hundreds of tree species that comprise the forests of this region, and post-mining reclamation in the region was either unheard of or limited to seeding with exotic grasses or hardy tree and shrub species, usually exotics. Through his efforts, the company adopted (years before its requirement by Brazilian law) the ambitious policy goal of restoring to the greatest possible extent the complex forest ecosystems that existed prior to bauxite mining.

Knowles initiated an extensive, but streamlined, research program to develop quickly the knowledge base required to meet the challenge. This included: detailed long-term phenological studies of 160 or the approximately 210 tree species found in forests surrounding the mining site; nursery research and field trials to develop and evaluate methods for nursery propagation, direct seeding, and transplanting of these native species; field trials involving various species combinations and plantation establishment and management techniques for both native and selected exotic tree species; and development of mining operational practices aimed at optimizing reclamation and topsoil management. Reforestation of mined areas at Trombetas began in 1981. By 1984, as a result of careful monitoring of the numerous field trials established earlier, and a continual learning process (or adaptive management) developed for the company by Knowles, a basic strategy for reforestation (involving mixed plantings of up to 100 species of early, intermediate and late successional tree species) was implemented on most of the mined lands.

This pioneering approach to forest restoration, which continues to be practiced by MRN to this day, has been critically evaluated by research scientists from several countries and found to be very effective in catalyzing post-planting development of floristic and faunal biodiversity and ecosystem processes that are essential for the future productivity and ecological viability of these restored forest ecosystems (see literature references below). This work serves as a model for operational-scale forest restoration on severely degraded lands (such as mined lands) worldwide, but particularly in the moist tropics where restoration is too often viewed as an unattainable goal.

Through his work, Knowles has demonstrated the value of “working with nature” in the development of forest restoration techniques to reach desired goals at minimal cost, and has helped to dispel certain myths that unfortunately still constrain most forest restoration activities, particularly in tropical countries. Specifically, his work has clearly demonstrated the ecological value (and financial savings) associated with judicious topsoil management and the need to integrate reclamation (engineering) and restoration (planting and aftercare) operations. Further, his approach to planting large numbers of native species of all successional classes in relatively dense, mixed stands (which mimics what actually occurs in nature following major natural disturbance) has challenged the still-common assumption that restoring complex natural forest ecosystems on severely degraded sites requires a sequential planting strategy stretching over several years or decades.   

                            

COMMUNICATION AWARD: Restoration Radio

Canadian radio program Restoration Radio is the winner of SER International's 2003 Communication Award, for their outstanding coverage of the people, groups and institutions that are actively restoring the Cascadia environment, community and economy. This award acknowledges the importance of all forms of communication that advance the goals of the Society, improve the quality of ecosystem restorations and increase the public awareness and acceptance of ecosystem restoration. Restoration Radio offers intelligent, thoughtful radio programs that focus on the thousands of organizations and volunteers who are making conscious choices to intervene on behalf of their local environment. Restoration Radio tells the stories of the citizens, farmers, foresters, water managers, cities, counties, marine industries, developers and politicians involved in restoration. Through its radio stories, website and partnerships with other non-profits throughout the region, Restoration Radio increases the public awareness and acceptance of ecosystem restoration.

Restoration Radio has prepared more than 77 radio reports on restoration activity in the Cascadia bioregion. These stories have been broadcast in the Puget Sound region on KMTT 103.7 FM. Restoration Radio reports are broadcast twice a day, once during the afternoon drive time and again during the evening listening hour. Based on Arbitron ratings, the last 40 spots were heard by 65,000 listeners an average of 8 times. Each spot covered a different restoration project underway in the Puget Sound area. Thus more than 70 local non-profit groups have had their efforts recognized.

Restoration Radio produces high-quality news stories and features by experienced radio journalists and hosts. Each spot directs listeners to the Restoration Radio website —www.restorationradio.net — where they can learn more about ecological restoration. Viewers of the Restoration Radio website have access to these stories and additional information in both text and audio formats.

The Restoration Radio website has also benefitted from a partnership with www.tidepool.org, an online environmental news organization. A project of Ecotrust, Tidepool has created a database of restoration news stories found in the media in the Cascadia region and posts daily updates on the Restoration Radio and the Tidepool websites. More than 800 news stories have been catalogued so far.

SER is awarding Restoration Radio the 2003 Communication Award for its success in objectively telling the stories of the restoration movement, illuminating how people are consciously acting on behalf of their local environment while being mindful of the needs of nature, local culture and local communities. As good journalism does, the programs highlight successes and failures, as well as controversies and challenges. Each show engages listeners with compelling and informative reporting as well as inspiration to take action to restore the environment in their homes, neighborhoods and region.

PROJECT AWARD: Alcoa World Alumina Australia

Alcoa World Alumina, in Western Australia, is the recipient of the SER Model Project Award for its work returning the botanical richness of the jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) forest in restored bauxite mines in Western Australia. The Model Project Award is given in recognition of projects that have truly advanced the craft of ecosystem restoration and upon which future projects may well be modeled. Going well beyond regulatory requirements, Alcoa’s project spanned 12 years and succeeded in re-establishing young jarrah forests with plant species richness equal to the surrounding native forest. The project included research, development and implementation of many innovative practices and technologies in the areas of seed treatment, seed application, topsoil handling, mine planning, and native plant propagation, offering an example of one of the world’s best practice in native ecosystem mine restoration.

2002

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Andy Clewell

Andy Clewell was presented the John Rieger Award by both John Stanley and John Rieger. Clewell was selected for this award based on his sustained and productive involvement — from serving as an officer on the board and continued active leadership in SER programs, as well as his work as a consultant and educator. Andy drafted the first policies for the Society and managed to get several of them adopted and posted on the Society’s web page until they were superceded by the most recent work, The SER Primer on Ecological Restoration. It is acknowledged in this major work that the genesis of it comes from Andy’s original and later writings for the society. Andy was one of the three major authors generating the final product that is now on our web page and adopted unanimously by the board. So driven by his belief that the Primer will establish a strong foundation for the advancement of the Society and its mission to advance ecological restoration, Andy has already begun presenting workshops on the material.

FULL CIRCLE AWARD: Clarence Mortenson

Accepting for himself and his sons, who are now managing the family ranch,Clarence Mortenson was presented the Full Circle Award by Dennis Martinez. Clarence, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, began a restoration program in 1950 when he took over his family ranch — 22,000 acres in western South Dakota near where the Cheyenne River flows into the Missouri. In a lifetime undertaking, Clarence, and now his sons, has worked with the natural systems to heal the devastation from rapid land clearing and over settlement during the early 1900s. Through a combination of constructing small sediment-trapping dams on gullied creeks, shifting to a rest-rotation grazing system, and deferring summer grazing in riparian areas and in woody draws, they have brought the land full circle. Where 50 years ago there were barren hills and a big gash — 70 feet wide by 20 feet deep — in the ground called Foster Creek, there is now a thriving riparian area with cottonwoods, willows, beaver, and dense mats of prairie cordgrass. Clarence and his sons continue their restoration work and ecologically sustainable ranching techniques to the present day.

2001

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Will Bond

Will Bond of Alaska Environmental received the John Rieger Award. While the ecological restoration movement recognizes the importance of competent design from capable individuals or organizations, as well as the value of volunteers and the community in nurturing projects; the industry generally skates over the need for professionals to implement plans that are getting bigger and more ambitious year on year. A contractor is still something you bring in to do a bit of bulk work and whom you off-hire before he can do any real damage. Ecological restoration is in danger of suffocating its own development, because it lacks the infrastructure to progress. Too often restoration ecologists have to both design, and then supervise the implementation of complex schemes by inexperienced workers, and through familiarity have become comfortable with the compromise. Evolution is stifled. Alaska Environmental’s particular area of expertise is in large-scale operations — especially those necessitating the use of machinery — the implementation of which has hitherto been regarded as being beyond the scope of the rather disorganized ecological organizations. Will Bond has made a major contribution to ecological restoration — to the practice by raising standards, developing equipment, techniques and culture; and to public awareness by delivering credible output on a scale that magnifies interest. 

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Miguel Soto Cruz

Arbofilia founder, Miguel Soto Cruz, was presented with the coveted Theodore M. Sperry Award by Marc Matsil, the initial recipient of the award in 1994. Soto Cruz, a Costa Rican-educated agronomist, founded Arbofilia 20 years ago to restore Costa Rica’s native flora and fauna and protect its watersheds through restoring the dignity of its farmers. He was nominated and selected for the award because he has been innovative and resourceful in trying to reverse not only the deforestation that has occurred on the southwest slopes below the capital of San Jose, but also in having the wisdom to realize that engaging the local communities and finding ways to enhance their economies was essential for meaningful and sustainable results. “These are poor farmers who have been made poorer by unproductive farming methods,” he explains. “We see the farmer not as a destructive agent, but as a person trying to obtain food for himself and his family.”

COMMUNICATION AWARD: Paul H. Gobster and R. Bruce Hull

Editors Paul H. Gobster and R. Bruce Hull received the Communication Award for Restoring Nature: Perspectives from the Social Sciences and Humanities, published November 2000 by Island Press. They were selected for the award for increasing public awareness and acceptance of ecological restoration. In the last two decades, ecological restoration has moved from an obscure and scientifically suspect craft to a widely practiced and respected profession with considerable scientific knowledge and refined on-the-ground practices. This progress has largely come about through advances in the physical science and technology of restoration. But there is another side to restoration — a human side — that is equally important but has received little attention from researchers and practitioners. As a result of this neglect, some of the most highly regarded restoration programs have been derailed in recent years due to politics and conflicting human values, and significant benefits to both people and ecosystems have been lost. Perhaps nowhere has such an experience hit home harder than in Chicago, when in 1996, an internationally renowned program of prairie, savanna, and woodland restoration was suddenly halted by moratoriums placed on restoration activities being conducted on public forest preserve lands in two counties. The controversy that ensued sparked a heated debate in the press and in other public forums about the human side of ecological restoration and management, raising a complex and conflicting set of questions about issues, perceptions, and values. Restoring Nature provides a comprehensive selection of information on increasing public awareness and promoting acceptance of ecosystem restoration, thus advancing the mission of the Society for Ecological Restoration to reestablish a healthy relationship between nature and culture.

2000

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: David T. Bell

Professor David T. Bell was awarded the John Rieger Award for his contributions to ecological restoration research over the last 20 years. He has also worked towards public awareness through lectures, consultation and graduate student training, and service to SER on the Board of Editors for Restoration Ecology and also contributed papers to that journal. He also presented the keynote address at the 1993 SER Annual Meeting in Irvine, California. 

COMMUNICATION AWARD: Flora Locale’s Native Plants Initiative

The Native Plants Initiative provides information to native plant users and growers through its website, organizes informal training events, and networks with funders, practitioners and policy makers who have a key role in ecological restoration.

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: Panchet Reservoir Restoration Project

The Panchet Reservoir Restoration Project consists of several nearly contiguous restoration areas near Panchet Dam outside of Pune, west-central India. Project work was initiated in 1986 by Dr. Prakash Gole, who is the Director of the Ecological Society and an internationally recognized crane expert. Narayan Desai is a PhD candidate who became the principal restoration practitioner about five years ago. Their intent is to restore lower montane forest typical of the Western Ghats range where the original forest was removed. The reference sites are sacred groves, which are rare patches of undisturbed forest. One of the goals of restoration is to restore new sacred groves for use by local residents. With the exception of the Panchet project, nearly all the restoration project works in India represent traditional forestry or mine reclamation. Panchet is therefore the premier restoration project in India. The Project had been funded by a German foundation. When that funding ceased last year, one of our own SER members funded it for a year. The Panchet Reservoir Project is an excellent example of the projects supported by the Project Facilitation Award.

1999

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Edith Allen

Dr. Edith Allen was awarded the John Rieger Award for over 15 years of ecological research and teaching. Dr. Allen's research projects address the restoration techniques of the scrubland of the southwest. Dr. Allen has been very active in the Society. She was one of the first directors, was elected as the first Secretary of the Society, and has served as an editor for Restoration Ecology. She has also organized sessions in restoration at other society’s meetings. Most importantly, Dr. Allen is an effective instructor and guide to those studying restoration.

COMMUNICATION AWARD: Natural Resource Project Inventory

The Communication Award was presented to the Natural Resource Project Inventory, an inventory of several restoration, watershed and weed databases — all available at one website — serving as an easy access source of restoration information in California.

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: Branksome Hall Ravine Woodland Restoration

Branksome Hall, a private girls school in Toronto, is restoring a wooded ravine on campus, a 3.5 acre tract of oak, cherry, butternut woodland invaded by non-native species, particularly Norway maple. A dedicated group of students, teachers, parents and staff planted thousands of tree and groundflora species and hand-pulled or cut a like number of invasive species. The site has been the focus of several workshops and field days by such groups as the Ontario Chapter of SER and others. The projects future entails management, teacher training monitoring and documentation, and assessment of restoration techniques and models. 

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: City of Rio de Janeiro’s Community Reforestation Project

The City of Rio de Janeiro's Community Reforestation Project is a 13-year-old project to plant almost 2 million trees over an area of 850 hectares in the city hillside favelas. This has stabilized the slopes, increased other flora, and greatly improved wildlife habitat in the area.

1998 

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: William Niering

Dr. William Niering was honored with the Society's John Rieger Award for his “long-term consistent support of the Society and his pioneering work in restoration in the Northeast.” Over the past five years, Bill contributed an extensive amount of personal time to the creation and growth of the Society’s journal, Restoration Ecology - from establishing the advisory panel of editors and compiling papers for the first publication, to meeting deadlines and financial constraints, to providing depth to unique problems or situations by opening the journal to special issues. In addition, Bill showed deep concern with the status of ecological restoration and the role of the academic community and has actively explored ways in which to bring the practitioners and researchers together for mutual benefit. Whether through his work with the journal or his extensive list of papers related to restoration in wetlands and uplands, Bill’s active participation and willingness to go the extra mile has made a significant and lasting impression in our field of restoration. Dr. Edith Allen accepted the award for Niering, who class schedule at Yale kept him from attending the ceremony.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Thomas J. Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz

Dr. Thomas J. Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz of Global Coral Reef Alliance were presented the Theodore M. Sperry Award for pioneering the use of solar panels to grow large limestone structures in the sea which facilitate the growth of corals and provide habitat for fish and other coral reef species. By demonstrating a sustainable -- as well as economically and biologically feasible -- method for restoring and creating new coral reefs, Goreau and Hilbertz have led the way in protecting not only one of the most complex marine ecosystems, but also in protecting shorelines and whole islands from erosion and rising sea levels as potential global warming, pollution, sedimentation and natural or human physical destruction make their effect. 

COMMUNICATION AWARD: High Country News

The Communication Award was created to acknowledge the importance of all forms of communication that advance the goals of the Society. The Awards committee is pleased to honor the biweekly “paper for people who care about the West,” High Country News (HCN), as the premier recipient. Since its founding as a nonprofit in 1970, HCN has specialized in complex, often science-based, coverage that has earned it 18,500 readers, 1,000 of whom are teachers and professors. Over the years, HCN's coverage of restoration in the “dammed and developing West” has increased to the status of an ongoing story. A recent lead story titled “Tackling Tamarisk,” which focused in detail on this invading species, revealing how difficult it is for ecologists at federal and state agencies to halt the spread of this all-too-adaptable shrub, is but one example of HCN's commitment to exploring ecological stories as they emerge, arming its readers - both people who live in and care about the West - with the facts and the contacts they need to participate in decision-making.

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: Trans-Atlantic Urban Ecology Initiative

The Trans-Atlantic Urban Ecology Initiative (TAUEI), born out of conversations at the 1996 SER International Conference in Rutgers, New Jersey, is, two conferences later, the 1998 recipient of the Society's Project Facilitation Award. Accepting the award was Project Chief Marc Matsil (US) and Dr. Jim A. Harris (University of East London in England). TAUEI is the world’s first international student/academic/government technology exchange to explore means of protecting and restoring critical watersheds and urban ecosystems from common problems, including global warming trends, relative sea level rise, fragmented natural systems, contaminated landfills, and non-native invasive species. The $5,000 will be used to offset costs for students from the US and UK to participate in restoration efforts at England’s Pitsea landfill and Essex Trust Preserves, and in the US, New York City Parks wetlands, coastal scrub and grassland restorations and forest restorations. Funding for TAUEI is presently supported through in-kind contributions by the City of New York and the University of East London. The City of Beijing has recently contacted TAUEI through the United Nations Environment Program to participate in future TAUEI efforts.

1997

JOHN RIEGER AWARD: Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez was presented the John Rieger Award for bringing to our collective consciousness the practices of the American Indians and other indigenous peoples that show us a model that is powerfully useful to ecosystem restorationists. Dennis was instrumental in the formation of the Indigenous People’s Restoration Network. *This award was formerly called the Service Award -- the name was changed to honor John Rieger who is one of the four founders of SER and served as its first President -- thus honoring at each future Banquet both the beginnings and the future of ecological restoration.

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: James A. Stevenson

The Society's Theodore M. Sperry Award went to James A. Stevenson, chief of Public Lands Management for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for instituting a prescribed burn plan for Florida’s parklands in 1971. Thanks to his efforts, 88,000 acres were burned, and now much of Florida’s parklands now contain healthy ecosystems that have been fully restored with historical authenticity. The award was presented by the Society's first Sperry Award recipient, Marc Matsil.

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center in Bismark, North Dakota, was presented the Society's Model Project Award. Due to this agency’s assistance, Ducks Unlimited Canada has stopped using exotic species for nesting cover; they have also planted 10,000 acres of native plants in the past ten years. Russell J. Haas accepted the award, which was presented by Andrew Burris. 

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: Hudsonia, Ltd.

Hudsonia, Ltd., a non-profit environmental research institute at Bard College in Annandale, NY, received the Project Facilitation Award for designing a project to relocate wetland and upland habitat of Blanding’s turtles, a state-listed threatened species in New York. The school had plans to expand into a significant portion of a wetland and upland area used by the turtles; rather than try to create new habitat somewhere else, Hudsonia decided to relocate the habitat elsewhere in the existing area. The project salvaged and translocated the original habitat, including mature plants, animals, logs, stumps and even the organic soil sediments, to a nearby site. This project, which included some relocation of habitat, has already shown that it is successful — in the spring of 1997, 11 turtles nested in the upland habitats of the restoration site and at least three nesting females used the constructed wetlands during the nesting season. The prize money will be used to monitor the well-being of the turtles and other animals and plants in their new location. The award, presented by Don Geiger, was accepted by Erik Kiviat. 

FULL CIRCLE AWARD: Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s Fisheries Department

The Society's first-ever Full Circle Award honored the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s Fisheries Department in Point Angeles, Washington. In 1994, the tribe developed a restoration strategy for the Little Hoko River, based largely upon reestablishing the physical conditions that salmon evolved with prior to the intervention of Euro-Americans. The signs of recovery are very clear; the tribe may again be able to fish the river for salmon. Awards Committee member Dennis Martinez, who instigated the creation of this award, made the presentation to Mike McHenry, Russell Hepfer and Jim Botstrom, who accepted for the tribe.

1996

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Tony Bradshaw

The Theodore M. Sperry Award honored Tony Bradshaw for almost single-handedly establishing restoration ecology and land reclamation as a science and practical discipline in the United Kingdom and Europe. He has researched all types of land degradation on a worldwide scale; presented the outcomes of restoration attempts to both academic and lay audiences, bringing land restoration into the public domain; and made it central to wildlife conservation. He has always underpinned this with a firm theoretical basis, in both experimental design and understanding of the way that ecosystems work. His published works include the seminal book, The Restoration of Land: The Ecology and Reclamation of Derelict and Degraded Land which has informed and inspired both academics and practitioners alike.

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: High School Wetlands Nursery Program

The Project Facilitation Award was presented to the High School Wetlands Nursery Program sponsored by a group called Tampa Bay Watch. The Florida program involved high school students in the propagation and planting of smooth cordgrass to restore the severely degraded Tampa Bay estuary. 

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: Mission Trails Park

The Mission Trails Park project carried out by the California Department of Transportation, under the leadership of John Rieger, was awarded the Model Project Award for creating 49 acres of willow scrub woodland as habitat for an endangered bird species, the least Bell’s vireo. The habitat restoration project involved a team approach and included study of the habitat needed and testing before the full-scale project was put in place. The mitigation was completed before the highway caused impact to the existing project. Overall, the project demonstrated an approach that serves as a model for similar projects. 

SERVICE AWARD: US Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program

The Society's Service Award went to the US Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program, for its work with private landowners in a program that provided financial and technical assistance to encourage voluntary restoration efforts. Since 1987, Partners for Wildlife has been working in cooperation with private landowners to restore and protect a diversity of habitats. The total acres restored include approximately 310,000 acres of wetland (bottomland hardwoods, scrub/shrub, emergent, bogs/fens, cienegas); 40,000 acres of native prairie and grassland; 600 miles of riparian habitat; and 50 miles of in-stream aquatic habitat. Partners for Wildlife contributes to the conservation of biological diversity through careful selection, design, and implementation of restoration projects on private lands. These projects are often the result of cooperative efforts with other governmental agencies and private partnerships that provide financial and technical resources towards the restoration project. They provide a win-win situation not only for the habitat resources, but also for the landowner. Through the Partners for Wildlife program, landowners can receive not only the financial backing for a restoration project that they may not be able to afford to do on their own, but also the technical assistance for carrying out the project. This assistance may include aid in designing and managing restoration projects, moving dirt, reseeding and advice and information on a variety of restoration issues, such as soil and water quality improvement, water management, native plant revegetation, control of invasive exotics, and grazing management. The land remains in private ownership and the landowner can continue to receive any economic benefits from the land as long as the restoration project is unaffected.

1995

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Joy Zedler

The Society's Theodore M. Sperry Award honored Dr. Joy Zedler. Joy Zedler has not only been a leader in California in the conceptualization of salt marsh restoration projects, but she has also focused much of her research on the evaluation of restoration success and the development of restoration methods. At the Sweetwater Wetland Complex in San Diego (a San Diego Bay salt marsh), Joy led the Pacific Estuarine Research Lab in an extensive study comparing the functional aspects of a constructed salt marsh to a nearly natural marsh (the Paradise Creek Marsh). This pioneering research effort focused on evaluating a broad suite of ecosystem functions and resulted in numerous publications, from a handbook outlining methods for evaluating restoration success to scientific journal publications. 

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD: Indian Creek Nature Center

The Society's Project Facilitation Award was presented to Indian Creek Nature Center. For the past 21 years, the privately funded nonprofit Indian Creek Nature Center has been an active part of the Cedar Rapids Community, providing environmental education for children, family-oriented weekend nature activities, nature information to the public and a 140-acre natural area that includes two national recreation trails and a diverse array of natural plant communities. In 1994, the Nature Center’s Board of Directors negotiated to buy the 67.59 acre Carrie Bena farm, which adjoins the Center on two sides. The Bena Farm is diverse and beautiful property that ranges from floodplain forest to high sandy knobs that overlook the Cedar River Valley. Acquisition of the farm expanded the Center to 207 acres, a large enough threshold to maintain critical habitat for boblinks, wood warblers, wild turkeys, and many species of butterflies. The Nature Center intends to ecologically restore cropland to tallgrass prairie and woodlands to their natural condition. 

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: Sudbury Vetac Project

The Society's Model Project went to the Sudbury Vetac Project, led by Keith Winterhalder. In 1974, the Sudbury region, already seriously denuded by logging and mining, was also suffering from economic hardship from mining closures and layoffs. The project’s “100 Year Sustainable Development Plan,” undertaken with many partners, combined restoration efforts (focusing on native grasses, herbs and woody plants) with employment opportunities (3,000 summer jobs were created) and serious research (soil erosion, acidity, careful monitoring) to recreate growing conditions. The change in the city over the last 10-15 years is remarkable. 

SERVICE AWARD: John Rieger

John Rieger was awarded the Society's Service Award for providing the inspiration and countless hours to establish this Society. As a co-founder, John consulted with many people from the public, private and non-profit sectors to gain insight and guidance into how SER should approach the restoration world. We have seen SER expand, but let’s not forget it all started in John’s office on a yellow pad and in John’s heart!

1994 

THEODORE M. SPERRY AWARD: Marc Matsil

The Theodore M. Sperry Award was presented the award named in his honor to Marc Matsil, Director of the Natural Resources Group for the City of New York for leading the New York City Department of Parks Natural Resources Group (NRG) in saving thousands of acres of woodlands and wetlands in New York from development, as well as effectively mobilizing the support of thousands throughout the region. In the face of massive layoffs and budget cuts, the NRG was probably been the single most important force in protecting and restoring this region’s natural resources, for the benefit of the entire City; donating countless hours and training hundreds of volunteers to plant and maintain thousands of native trees and shrubs. When Dr. Sperry was introduced, after a brief bio, he received a long, standing ovation. While he was presenting the award to Marc, he “stole the show” with his charm and wit. This was the only time that Dr. Sperry presented this award because he passed away the next spring. Ever since, the only person who received the award from Dr. Sperry -- Marc Matsil -- has presented all of the other Sperry Awards.

PROJECT FACILITATION AWARD:  University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum’s Wingra Oak Savanna Restoration Project

The Society's Project Facilitation Award honored the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum’s Wingra Oak Savanna Restoration Project. This community participation project was the model for SER’s proposed community restoration program. The Project was initiated in 1991, in a highly visible area of the Arboretum along a major Madison street. The area is readily accessible to the community; we estimate that it is visited [1994 figures] more than 25,000 times annually. One of the Arboretum’s focus area projects, resources are to be devoted to it until it is brought to a point where it requires minimal management care (such as prescribed burning) and is essentially self-sustaining. Beginning in 1990, Molly Fifield-Murray developed a plan for the 20-acre site which divided it into a series of management units, each with a timeframe for completion. Following the schedule that was then created, different parts of the site have been cleared each subsequent year, and native plants and seeds planted in accordance with a landscape plan and species list that had been developed. The site is observed every year to note progress in vegetation establishment. Detailed quadrant studies are planned periodically, in order to document key changes over time. Species lists, research data, management activities and quadrant studies are all entered into Arbor LIS, the Arboretums’ computerized land information system, in order to ensure an accurate and detailed history of the project that can be updated over time. As the plantings mature, we plan to introduce fire as a management technique. Molly Fifield-Murray accepted the award for the project; the award was presented by Award Committee member Jim Harris.

MODEL PROJECT AWARD: University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Awards Committee Chair Karl Smith presented the first Model Project Award to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Arboretum Director Gregory Armstrong accepted the award on behalf of the ecological community collection at the Arboretum, the site of the oldest prairie restoration project in the country, begun by Aldo Leopold in the 1930s. Representing the major forest, savanna, prairie and wetland types found in Wisconsin at the time of settlement; it covers approximately 1,100 of the Arboretum’s 1,280 acres. The collection has been created through the process of ecological restoration; its establishment represented the first systematic attempt anywhere to restore whole biological communities. To create the collection following the goal of restoring Wisconsin ecological communities, scientists learned as much as possible about community composition, soils, and climatic factors, and matched community needs to locations in the Arboretum. The studies of community needs led to comprehensive studies of Wisconsin vegetation as preserved in relatively undisturbed remnants throughout the state. These studies were conducted by Dr. John Curtis of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his students beginning in the 1940s. Eventually, the data were incorporated in Curtis’ landmark book, The Vegetation of Wisconsin (1959). Records have been kept of plantings, management and research activities in the collection. Forty-six research projects related to ecological restoration have been conducted in the collection since its inception. A number of these are long-term in nature, with several lasting more than 30 years. Planting successes and failures have been documented and evaluated, and results have been continually shared through publications and verbal communications. Today, the collection continues to advance the craft of ecosystem restoration through new projects that are being initiated on a regular basis.

SERVICE AWARD: William Jordan

The Society's first Service Award honored William Jordan, Founding Editor of the first journal to be devoted to ecological restoration -- Restoration & Management Notes -- for his tireless advocacy of ecological restoration. Over 15 years, Dr. Jordan’s work at the UW-Madison Arboretum contributed to wider awareness of the importance of ecological restoration and the issues it raises, and also to the emergence of a community of restorationists. At present [1994], the journal reaches more than 2,500 land managers, scientists, engineers, and landscape architects throughout the United States and has a small but growing international membership. In 1984, he organized a symposium at the Arboretum to explore the idea of restoration as a new technique for ecological research (an idea he developed and articulated), which in turn contributed to the development of a restoration technology. As a result of this symposium, the Arboretum bean to assume a leadership role in restoration ecology, the term introduced at that time to refer to the use of restoration as a technique for basic research. Jordan was the senior editor of the book Restoration Ecology: A Synthetic Approach to Ecological Research (Cambridge University Press, 1987), the first book to systematically explore the idea of restoration as a technique for basic ecological research. He was a founding member of the Society and is a member of the Board of Directors. He also served as supervisor of administration for the Society’s first six years and helped arrange for Society offices to be housed at the Arboretum. He developed the Earthkeeping concept; Earthkeeping is a program of environmental education based on the experience of restoration. The award was presented by Award Committee member Don Geiger.