December 15, 2000
Contact: Colleen Freeze, (360) 902-2222
Department honors citizens for outstanding conservation efforts
OLYMPIA – A 13-year-old girl who raised money to replace a fish hatchery window broken by vandals is among several citizens whose contributions to resource conservation in 2000 were honored here today by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Loryn Lestz, 13, of Issaquah, was presented a WDFW Director's Award by Jeff Koenings, agency director, at an awards ceremony today. When Lestz learned last spring that vandals had shattered a fish-viewing window at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery near her home, she set about raising money to replace the special, two-inch- thick hatchery window designed to withstand water pressure. Through collection boxes she and her father placed at the hatchery, the community center and other businesses, she collected $445 to put toward the $500 replacement cost of the window. Her effort was a service project for her bat mitzvah, the coming-of-age observance for Jewish girls.
The agency annually honors citizens for outstanding contributions in the area of wildlife, fish and habitat conservation. Other citizens honored for this year's accomplishments were:
- Allen Miller, of Mansfield, Landowner of the Year – Allen Miller was honored by WDFW for his ongoing work to integrate basic conservation practices into the daily operation of his family's 15,000-acre cattle ranch in Douglas County. Miller has worked with his father, Bud, to manage a successful Hereford beef program on the ranch, which has a 117-year history of cattle production. Conservation on the ranch comes with many challenges: It is in a dry, cold part of the state, where the soil tends to be rocky and unproductive; the ranch encompasses numerous riparian areas, including Foster Creek, and is in a region where noxious weeds pose a serious threat to native vegetation; and numerous threatened and endangered species, including sage grouse and columbian sharp-tailed grouse reside there. Miller monitors and records the habitat in all 55 pastures on the ranch, has developed methods for allowing cattle access to water without damaging vegetation around riparian areas and monitors his riparian restoration efforts using photo plots.
- Kyle Winton and Ray Crisp of Eyes in the Woods, of Olympia, Volunteer of the Year Award – Winton is credited with starting the grass-roots organization, Eyes in the Woods, to assist the WDFW Enforcement Program by training private citizens to safely and accurately report poaching violations to the appropriate agencies. The group coordinates volunteer efforts, helps with fish and game check stations and works with biologists on fish and game counts. See the Eyes in the Woods website for more information.
- The Mount St. Helens Preservation Society, of Toutle, Organization of the Year Award – The Mount St. Helens Preservation Society, represented by Mark Smith of Toutle, received the Organization of the Year Award for its work helping to restore the elk winter range in the Toutle River Valley. Around the area of the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, the group has worked with WDFW and other agencies to protect and improve habitat, reduce vandalism and poaching and preserve wildlife around the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. In 1998 and 1999, the group recognized erosion problems from the unstable North Fork of the Toutle River. They obtained a grant and raised approximately $70,000 to plant more than 400 acres of winter elk forage. In winter, the group assists with monitoring the elk population in the area. Recently they began a program called "adopt an acre," which encourages donors to help plant or maintain their adopted acre for one year, during organized work events.