NOAA awarded two individuals with the prestigious 2016 Dr. Nancy Foster Habitat Conservation Award on December 12, 2016, in New Orleans at the National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration.
Winner Lynda V. Mapes has been an environmental reporter with the Seattle Times since 1997. She earned acclaim for a newspaper series, and 2013 book, about the removal of Washington State’s Elwha Dam, which is considered the most extraordinary fish habitat conservation project in U.S. history. She helped the public understand how science informs the process of removing dams and restoring habitat for threatened and endangered salmon. Her nomination was supported by NOAA leaders John Stein, the director of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, and William Stelle, senior advisor to NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan.
Winner Paul Dest has served since 2001 as the director of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in southern Maine. In 2015, the Wells Reserve became Maine’s first fully solar-powered nonprofit. For more than 30 years, Dest has worked on protecting New England’s rivers and coastlines. He has maintained excellent relationships with Maine's elected leaders, and his nomination was supported by the senior U.S. Senator from Maine, Susan M. Collins, and the junior U.S. Senator from Maine, Angus S. King, Jr.
Winners of the Dr. Nancy Foster Award must demonstrate exceptional achievement and dedication to habitat conservation in the coastal and marine environment. This year, the American Fisheries Society partnered with NOAA Fisheries in the judging process.
The 2016 awardees join 20 previous winners. Dr. Nancy Foster won the first award in 1997 for creating NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation, Restoration Center, and Chesapeake Bay Office. Dr. Foster served as a visionary leader during her 23 years at NOAA until her death in 2000.
NOAA’s habitat conservation work spans some of the largest and most valuable ecosystems on Earth and supports the nation’s fisheries, protected species, and coastal communities. Restoration and protection efforts across the agency are coordinated by the Office of Habitat Conservation.