Ducks Unlimited received President Obama's prestigious Coastal America Partnership Award on December 10, 2011, for its pivotal role in the highly successful Nisqually Estuary Restoration Project. As part of the Nisqually Estuary Restoration Team, DU spearheaded a large portion of the overall project, from securing significant amounts of funding to designing and constructing much of the habitat
restoration. DU and 16 other Nisqually Restoration Team members were presented with the award during a ceremony at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in Olympia, Washington
More than 60 people were on hand for the presentation, including Virginia K. Trippie, director of Coastal America; Cynthia Iyall, tribal chair of the Nisqually Tribal Council; and Jean Takekawa, refuge manager of Nisqually NWR. James W. Kurth, chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, presented the award and Chuck Lobdell, manager of conservation programs for DU's Pacific Northwest office, was on hand to accept the award for the DU team.
"The Nisqually Restoration Project is a shining example of teamwork and dedication," Lobdell said. "We used the most up-to-date science, current technologies, and the best human ingenuity to reconnect tidal habitat to the Puget Sound tides. It was a privilege to work with all of the partners involved in this historic project, and now the Nisqually Estuary is well on its way to providing healthy habitat for waterfowl
, fish, and other wildlife, which will benefit for generations to come."
Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar applauded the Nisqually Estuary Restoration Team in a letter of recognition. "Through your collaborative team of tribes, wildlife refuges, federal and state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit partners an outstanding environmental victory was achieved for the Pacific Northwest," Salazar wrote. Congressmen Norm Dicks and Adam Smith also provided letters of appreciation to the team.
Spanning 15 years, the project involved more than 900 acres of tidal habitat in the Nisqually Delta. Recently completed, it's the largest estuary restoration project in the Pacific Northwest and is considered crucial in aiding the recovery of endangered Chinook salmon in the Nisqually watershed.
The Coastal America Awards Program recognizes outstanding efforts and excellence in leadership for protecting, preserving, and restoring the nation's coastal resources and ecosystems. The only environmental accolade of its kind to be presented by the president, the award distinguishes outstanding collaborative multi-agency and multi-stakeholder efforts that leverage and combine resources for coastal restoration, preservation, protection, and educational projects.