At the National Audubon Convention in July, Mike Sutton, Vice President for the Pacific Flyway, presented the 2013 William Dutcher Award for the Pacific Flyway to two outstanding chapter volunteers, Peter Pumphrey and Mike Prather, both with Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, for their dedicated volunteer work at Owens Lake Important Bird Area. Pete and Mike have been a winning team for the past five years, each bringing their own skills to the table in creating a conservation agreement for Owens Lake, in partnership with Audubon California. (Mike and Pete with their awards in Bishop, CA.)
William Dutcher was a prominent amateur ornithologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and in 1905 was appointed the first President of the National Audubon Society. The Dutcher Award was created in his honor to recognize superior volunteer service by Audubon leaders that results in bird conservation at scale. Pete and Mike received the award in recognition of their tireless volunteer efforts to protect Owens Lake as an Important Bird Area. Their skills in birding, negotiation, and persistence has made for a highly-effective team on behalf of an endangered lake. Their local presence and ability to reach out to the community and local partners has made all the difference. Recognizing the challenges of negotiating a conservation agreement with a large agency, Pete and Mike have proven willing to compromise and keep the bigger picture in mind. The conservation of Owens Lake is truly an Audubon project; one Audubon started and one Audubon will finish thanks to their determined efforts.
The Audubon team at Owens Lake: Mike Prather, Andrea Jones, and Pete Pumphrey
Peter Pumphrey is a retired attorney who served as an environmental prosecutor with the San Joaquin County Office of the District Attorney. He is President of Eastern Sierra Audubon Society, the vice-chair of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, chair of the Chalfant Community Fire District, an advisor to the executive committee of the State Bar of California Environmental Law Section, a member of the Lands Committee of the Eastern Sierra Land Trust and serves on the Hearing Board of the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District. He is a licensed fishing guide and contributes to California Fly Fisher magazine. Pete's skills in negotiation and knowledge of the law have been invaluable in our meetings with many stakeholders to form a conservation agreement for Owens Lake.
Mike Prather has lived in Inyo County since 1972, and is a retired school teacher. "My focus has been on the desert, as well as the Sierra, with particular interests in water and wildlife issues. For many years, I worked on passage of the California Desert Protection Act and the Inyo/Los Angeles Water Agreement with its Lower Owens River Project. Currently much of my energy is directed toward the massive wildlife return associated with the Los Angeles Owens Lake Dust Project, and also possible increased protection of the Alabama Hills through a Federal designation within the BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System". Mike was co-founder of Eastern Sierra Audubon and serves on the board of Friends of the Inyo. In the 1990's, Mike alerted the agencies, conservation groups, and Audubon of the significance of the bird populations at Owens Lake and he has been working tirelessly ever since to teach anyone and everyone about the birds that live there. Learn more about Mike here: http://www.audublog.org/?p=11023