OLYMPIA - Kim Thorburn, a retired physician from Spokane, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) for her efforts to help bring sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse back to Lincoln County.
Thorburn, who has spent the past year radio-tracking birds relocated to the county by state biologists, was one of several Washington citizens recognized for their contributions during a WDFW awards ceremony May 13.
"Kim Thorburn's dedication to this project has helped us keep track of these birds and given us a better understanding of their home range," said WDFW Director Phil Anderson, who announced this year's awards. "She's a prime example of the important contribution citizen volunteers make to this department and to this state's fish and wildlife resources."
Sage and sharp-tailed grouse are both native to eastern Washington, but are now listed by the state as a threatened species.
In accepting her award, Thornburn brimmed with excitement as she announced that the first sage grouse released by WDFW since 2008 had just hatched chicks.
"I'm thrilled, and frankly surprised to win an award for something I enjoy doing so much," she said.
Other citizen awards announced by WDFW for 2010 include:
- Organization of the Year: The Renton Fish & Game Club received this year's award for nearly four decades of work on WDFW lands in Okanogan County. In that time, club members have built and repaired miles of fencing, cleared acres of weeds and brush and restored numerous riparian areas and springs. This year's "Omak Work Party" is dedicated to installing 1.5 miles of fencing on the Buzzard Lake Wildlife Area.
- Landowner of the Year: For two decades, Ann Nourse has given WDFW access to a critical monitoring site for fish populations on her property on Taneum Creek in central Washington. Despite opposition from neighbors, she has shown unwavering support for the long-term monitoring effort, earning the department's recognition.
- Educator of the Year: Since 1996, Ginger Gumm and Daniel Poleschook Jr. of Loon Lake have spent thousands of hours observing, photographing and studying common loons in Washington. They have also been directly involved in collecting dead and dying loons and scheduling necropsies to document causes of mortality. Their reports and articles have focused public attention on the hazard posed by lead fishing weights to loons and other birds.