Conservation | Science

SRF honors TU California staff, grassroots leader

TU’s Anna Halligan and Mary Ann King accepting the 2019 Nat Bingham Memorial Restorationist of the Year Award from the Salmonid Restoration Federation.

On April 26, the Salmonid Restoration Federation (SRF) presented major awards to two Trout Unlimited staff and one of our grassroots leaders at the SRF annual awards dinner.

Anna Halligan, director of TU’s North Coast Coho Project and Mary Ann King, director of TU’s California Water Project, were co-winners of the SRF Nat Bingham Memorial Restorationist of the Year Award.

Charlie Schneider, president of TU’s Redwood Empire Chapter, was honored with the 2019 Gordon Becker Memorial River Advocate Award.

Erik Young, former chair of TU’s California Council and now president of the Golden Gate Chapter, was awarded the Gordon Becker Award two years ago. Young said, “It’s truly an honor for TU’s exceptional volunteers and staff to be recognized by our peers in this way, and testament to the quality of our work and our leadership in the habitat coldwater restoration field.”

TU’s Charlie Schneider accepting the 2019 Gordon Becker Memorial Award from the Salmonid Restoration Federation.

SRF’s Restorationist of the Year Award was initiated in 1992 as a way to honor grassroots salmonid habitat restorationists. It was renamed in 1998 in honor of Nat Bingham, an avid fisherman and tireless advocate for salmon. Winners of the award each year are honored with a “roast and toast” and a brass sculpture that “captures the spirit of salmon, fish-loving people, and the state of California.”

Charlie Schneider, president of TU’s Redwood Empire Chapter, doing monitoring as part of a project on the Laguna de Santa Rosa floodplain.

Halligan said, “I am humbled to be acknowledged by my restoration peers as California Restorationist of the Year. It is an even greater privilege to share this award with Mary Ann King, a colleague and a friend, who I rely on heavily to keep my spirits elevated when faced with the trials and tribulations of on-the-ground restoration. This award is testament to the importance of the strong collective effort required to restore and protect habitat for coldwater fisheries.”

SRF field tour of a Russian River Coho Partnership project site on Dutch Bill Creek in the Russian River watershed.

The Gordon Becker Memorial Award is named after Gordon Becker, senior fisheries biologist for the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration (CEMAR), friend and partner to many staff and volunteers at Trout Unlimited, and a leading steelhead and salmon advocate in the greater Bay Area for many years. The award honors individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary river advocacy or stewardship. You can read a moving tribute to Becker by TU’s Toner Mitchell here.

SRF is a statewide organization of federal and state resource agency professionals, consulting and engineering firm experts, and conservation groups engaged in habitat restoration for steelhead and salmon in California. SRF is a longtime partner of TU’s in the campaign to restore Coho salmon and steelhead runs in northern California coastal streams and in the Eel and Russian River watersheds.

TU and SRF co-sponsored the first-ever Large Wood Technical Field School in 2018—training for watershed restoration professionals and volunteers in placement of large roots balls and tree trunks and limbs in streams to create more diversity of flow and habitat—and will reprise that partnership and event in 2020.

TU’s California Water Attorney Matt Clifford presenting at the 2019 SRF Conference.

Many TU project-partners are members of SRF, and the SRF annual conference is a much-anticipated event in the salmonid restoration community. Hundreds of people from around the West attended the 2019 conference, held in Santa Rosa.

TU staff frequently deliver technical presentations at or host field tours for the SRF conference. This year, multiple TU staff did so.

Award photo courtesy Bob Pagliuco.