OLYMPIA — A steelhead-rearing landowner, a veteran hunting instructor and a wildlife steward recently received recognition for their volunteer work with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Jeff Koenings, WDFW director, presented the awards during the department’s annual awards ceremony here on May 31.
Noel Cole was named Landowner of the Year for his 28-year volunteer effort in rearing steelhead in his pond near Olympia. Each day during the winter, Cole hand-feeds more than 10,000 juvenile steelhead until they’re ready for release into the Chehalis and Newakum River system.
“In addition to building the original rearing pond, Noel has volunteered more than 6,000 hours improving steelhead populations and fishing on the North Fork Newakum River, and provides an annual fishing day on his pond for people with limited abilities,” Koenings said.
The Educator of the Year award went to Bill Montgomery of Pierce County for his 10-year stint as a hunter-education instructor and recruiter. In 2006, Montgomery taught or assisted in nine education classes, helped conduct the Washington Youth Hunter Education Championship, promoted youth outdoor activities and assisted in a pilot Internet education training project for WDFW. Certified as an instructor in 1997, Montgomery has taught more than 1,500 students and donated 1,200 hours of volunteer time.
Jerry Angiuli was honored as the Volunteer of the Year for protecting a variety of wildlife species on his 21 acres of wetland property in the Dungeness Valley near Sequim.
“With development spreading in the valley, Jerry bought one of his favorite wildlife areas to actively manage it for habitat protection,” said Koenings.
Angiuli also volunteers as WDFW’s huntmaster for the Dungeness elk herd.
Two citizen groups, the Crescent Valley Alliance (CVA) of Gig Harbor and The Nature Conservancy, received Organization of the Year honors.
The CVA, a partnership of residents in the Crescent Valley, received the award for its efforts to preserve local wildlife biodiversity. In 2005, the valley was selected as a pilot site for a “BioBlitz,” in which more than 40 professional and citizen scientists joined forces to document hundreds of wildlife locations and species.
Koenings congratulated community members who participated in the event and subsequently formed the Crescent Valley Alliance in 2006.
“The alliance is an excellent example of dedicated community members working to secure a future for people and wildlife in Washington,” Koenings said.
The Nature Conservancy was recognized for its help in developing biodiversity assessment measures in ecoregions throughout Washington state. WDFW is using the assessments to guide action on biodiversity conservation and land acquisitions, and to help county governments in land-use planning.
In addition to the volunteer awards, a number of WDFW staff members received recognition for outstanding efforts over the past year.
Steve Zender, a longtime wildlife biologist based in Chewelah, was named WDFW’s Employee of the Year.
“Northeast Washington has a complex spectrum of wildlife species and issues, from caribou to grizzly bears,” Koenings said. “Time and again, Steve has demonstrated highly developed biological skills, leadership abilities, and a commitment to public service.”