Warren King to receive major conservation award Friday

WARREN KING in 2016 talking before he received the Otter Creek Audubon Society's Silver Feather award. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell

ADDISON — On Friday the Agency of Natural Resources will honor Warren King for his long-time advocacy for wildlife.

ANR Secretary Julie Moore will present the Sally Laughlin Endangered Species Award to King, a Ripton resident, on Friday at 2 p.m. at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. 

King has been active for decades with the Nature Conservancy, Vermont Audubon, National Audubon, Otter Creek Audubon, The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board, and almost any other organization involved in conservation in Vermont.  He has put in many hours of his own time searching out populations of rare plants.  He has also privately and anonymously funded many conservationists and conservation activities in Vermont, according the Jim Andrews of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas.

Those who know and work with King say he is a man of quiet leadership and humility who inspires others to protect our natural world. His passion for conservation is evidenced by his long-term commitment to Vermont’s flora and fauna, as well as the organizations that protect them.

We are told that Warren King has decided not to attend the ANR Secretary’s Sally Laughlin Award presentation ceremony due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. But an online link is in the works; we will provide that link here once it is available.

Preregistration was required for in-person attendance at Friday’s ceremony, and registration was closed on Friday morning as the 108 reserved seats were all claimed. In 2020, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is celebrating 100 years of land conservation through the Wildlife Management Area (WMA) system. Today’s event is the last celebration in the centenary series.

“A quick glance at Warren King’s resume will not suffice in understanding his commitment to conservation over the past 60 years,” reads a letter of nomination submitted by Amy Alfieri, the wildlife biologist at Dead Creek WMA, and Erin Talmage, of Birds of Vermont Museum. “He is a fixture in Vermont’s conservation community and serves as a willing and able partner to various conservation organizations.

“Warren’s professional career is highlighted by his time as an ornithologist at the Smithsonian Institution, where he worked on seabird ecology research in the tropical Pacific. While there he became executive assistant to the President of the International Council for Bird Preservation (now Birdlife International) and served as chair of the U.S. Section. During that time, he also authored a preliminary field guide to tropical Pacific seabirds and Endangered Birds of the World, the ICBP Red Data Book of 1981.

“Warren spent many years working at the Keewaydin Environmental Education Center in Salisbury, where he helped start the Winter Environmental Education Program in 1985. In addition, he helped found the center’s wilderness canoe trips in Quebec, an immersive camping and wilderness experience connecting students to the environment. Both programs are still in operation today.

“While his career is most impressive, Warren has also spent thousands of hours volunteering in local and statewide conservation efforts. His reputation as a thoughtful and seasoned conservationist made him an exceptional member of the Fish and Wildlife Advisory Committee for the Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources until it was disbanded in 2003. He also served as member and past president of the Audubon Vermont Board and its progenitor, the Vermont Audubon Council. For more than a decade, Warren was an active member of the Bird Scientific Advisory Group to the Vermont Endangered Species Committee. Warren was a former president and treasurer of the Vermont Association of Conservation Commissions. He serves on his town’s conservation commission. And in addition, Warren was chair and board member of the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

“As a board member and past president of the Otter Creek Audubon Society (OCAS), Warren was the driving force in the acquisition of a conservation easement on the Morgan Road amphibian crossing site in Salisbury. He continues to coordinate amphibian monitoring at that location with the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. In his role with OCAS, Warren is the only remaining founding organizer on the planning committee for the popular Dead Creek Wildlife Day. This collaborative event recently celebrated its 17th year, attracting 500 people annually while providing a place to learn about wildlife and conservation, interact with experts, watch demonstration, or participate in activities that steward a connection between people and the environment.

“Forever an outdoorsman, Warren also participates as a volunteer for numerous projects around the state including: the Colby Hill Ecological Project, the Abbey Pond to Frost Mountain Keeping Track Project, marsh bird surveys at Little Otter Creek, the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas, deer exclosure surveys at Mount Equinox, ruffed grouse and barred owl surveys on the Green Mountain National Forest, the Otter Creek River Watch project, and the Invasive Exotics SWAT Team with The Nature Conservancy. He is also active as a volunteer with the New England Wildflower Society where he is tasked with monitoring Vermont populations of rare and endangered plants.  Warren has spent countless hours locating and monitoring populations of the state-threatened Eastern Jacob’s Ladder, about which he published a paper in Rhodora, a journal of botany devoted primarily to the flora of North America, in 2018.”

Kim Royar, a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, said King has been a great conservation partner for her organization.

“He works to bring groups together under the broad umbrella of conservation,” she said. “He is the epitome of a great partner — he works hard, collaborates, is humble, and is a pleasure to work with.  I wish that I had more reason to work with him and that we had many more partners just like him.”

Among the awards that have recognized King’s contributions are the Arthur Gibb Award for Individual Leadership in 2017 and the Otter Creek Audubon Society’s Silver Feather in 2016.

The Sally Laughlin Endangered Species Award recipient is chosen by the Vermont Endangered Species Committee and the award is given “in recognition of his dedicated work to protect and conserve the threatened and endangered species of Vermont.” 

Previous recipients include Kent McFarland of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who received the first award in 2017; Ian Worley, formerly of the Environmental Program of UVM and former chair of the ESC, who received the award in 2018; and Jim Andrews of Salisbury, who is chair of the Reptile and Amphibian Scientific Advisory Group and keystone leader of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, received it in 2019.

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Addison County Independent