For 30 years, Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) has produced the premier salmon restoration conference in California. Every year, the Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference provides an opportunity to honor the contributions that individual practitioners have made to California's fisheries restoration field. Prior to the conference, SRF accepts award nominations for the following awards: Restorationist of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, and Golden Pipe awards for innovation in the restoration field. Award recipients are honored during the Conference banquet that is held on the final night of the four-day conference.
The esteemed Restorationist of the Year (ROY) award was created in honor of Nat Bingham, a pioneer in the restoration field. The 2016 Restorationist of the Year Award was given to Sungnome Madrone, Executive Director of the Mattole Salmon Group, for his tireless restoration efforts on the North Coast. In addition to directing a leading restoration non-profit on the North Coast, he is a consulting watershed specialist for his company Madrone Enterprises and a part-time lecturer in hydrology at Humboldt State University. In his lengthy career, Sungnome has completed over 400 watershed restoration projects, mentored countless students and provided employment opportunities to dozens of budding restorationists. Additionally, he developed a professional restoration training infrastructure for displaced timber workers, and has brought millions of dollars of grant funding to Humboldt County.
The winners of the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016 were David Simpson of the Mattole Salmon Group and Don Allan, Senior Project Manager of the Natural Resources Division of the Redwood Community Action Agency.
David Simpson has spent his lifetime working to protect and restore salmon in the Mattole and elsewhere. He is a founding member of the Mattole Salmon Group (MSG) and continues as its Board Vice President to this day. He was also a co-founder of the Mattole Soil Bankers, whose work has resulted in thousands of trees being planted in riparian and upslope areas, and continues work to this day with the Institute for Sustainable Forestry that helped birth forest stewardship certification. David has been an activist for restoration practitioner representation, helping to organize a Northwest Forest Workers Alliance, and has been an effective agent for change in protecting forests, fish, and watersheds.
Don Allan has contributed to the restoration, enhancement, beautification and function of watersheds throughout Humboldt, Trinity, and surrounding counties and adjacent Tribal lands for more than 20 years. He has worked tirelessly to improve estuarine and off-channel habitat in the Humboldt Bay watershed (and its many tributaries) in particular. His efforts have led the way in restoring critical rearing habitat for salmonids. Some highlights include the Martin Slough Enhancement Project, Wood Creek Tidal Marsh Enhancement Project, and the Widow White Creek Enhancement Project. Don has also worked to improve public access to the north coast’s natural gems. He was instrumental in the completion of the Hammond Trail and the Hikshari’ Trail, both used by thousands of people every year who are able to improve their health and appreciate the beauty of northern California. Don has also contributed significantly to the missions of Salmonid Restoration Federation, the Trinidad Bay Watershed Council and the Trinidad Coastal Land Trust through volunteer service.
The co-recipients of the 2016 Golden Pipe Award for Innovation in the Restoration Field were Leah Mahan and Bob Pagliuco of the NOAA Restoration Center. Larry Notheis, Deputy Director of the California Conservation Corps, explains, “Leah and Bob started the first Veteran’s Fisheries Program in the United States and it is the model of what an innovative, successful, pioneering, and life-changing program should be. Veterans ages 18-30 are one of the highest unemployed demographics in the US. This program has not only helped to integrate some of them back into civilian life, it has enabled them to nurture some of their internal wounds. This program has provided the participants an opportunity to use the skills they learned in the military of hard work, commitment, team work, and others to experience fisheries restoration and an opportunity for their future. We owe this opportunity to the young men and women that graciously volunteered to protect our country by giving back to them this program. And this program would not exist without the complete dedication from Leah and Bob.”
The 34th Annual Salmonid Restoration Conference was produced by SRF in Fortuna, CA from April 6-9, 2016.