Conservation Achievement Recognitions

Up to three times each meeting season (September through May), Flathead Audubon recognizes an individual, group, or organization that has made significant contributions to conservation in the Flathead Valley. This Conservation Achievement Recognition program was initiated in 2001. Listed below are the recipients of this Recognition.


May       Flathead Lakers for 65 years of protecting the Flathead Watershed ecosystem for lasting quality life for fish, wildlife, birds, and human communities, and for their generous help in funding the Owen Sowerwine Conservation Easement. View Articles/ Photos

December     Michele Tohtz for her enthusiastic service, dedication and willingness to help with projects such as Hawk Watch, maintaining our membership and donor information, invasive species removal or simply picking up our mail. View Article/Photos

October        Rachel Potter for her lifetime love of native plants, flowers, and trees that has motivated her to make innumerable contributions to conservation benefiting birds and wildlife in Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley. View Article/Photos


September     Beverly Skinner for her lifelong career as a Wildlife Biologist in several states including Montana. Her work at Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge in particular, has benefited the wildlife and people of NW Montana in innumerable ways. Her perseverance in helping to establish a conservation area of the lands adjoining the refuge have resulted in a gift to wildlife and citizens that will be protected henceforth. View Article/Photos 

February        River Design Group for its excellence to dedicated commitment to ecosystem and river restoration. View Article/Photos

March            Dave Hadden for his conservation efforts to protect and preserve wildlife, wildlands, rivers, and lakes. View Article/Photos

May               Gail Cleveland for her countless volunteer hours for Flathead Audubon Society. View Article/Photos


September     Pat Jaquith for contributing many hours of her time using her expertise to identify and remove exotic plants from Owen Sowerwine, and for promoting the appreciation and preservation of native plants, and monitoring local bird populations.  View Article/Photos

March             Jim & Barbara Rychwalski for their dedication in preparing the Pileated Post newsletter for mailing for the past six years. They have done this behind-the-scenes job unfailingly and without complaint to ensure our paper newsletters are delivered in a timely fashion. THANK YOU Jim and Barbara for sharing your time and commitment to Flathead Audubon Society so it’s members may enjoy reading the newsletter. View Article/Photos 

April               Center for Native Plants for their excellence in providing native plants and educating people in their importance and care for enhancement of the biodiversity of our valley and for the health of our birds and pollinators. The Center for Native Plants works hard to collect seeds to nurture and foster them into healthy nursery plants that give landowners an alternative to ornamentals provided by other nurseries. Native plants are perfectly adapted to the soils and climate of the Flathead Valley and to the needs of the birds and other animals that depend on them. The Center for Native Plants has proven to be a dedicated provider of these wonderful plants and we thank them for their diligence and conservation ethics. View Article/Photos

May               Kathy Ross for her dedicated advocacy for native plants, insects, birds, and other earth inhabitants and for her many conservation efforts in the Flathead Valley.  View Article/Photos



February        Flathead Recon for innovative and dedicated approaches to local conservation issues. They provide the only local glass recycling facility in northwest Montana, diverting good materials from the landfill. View Article/Photos

April              Lewis Young for applying the best available science and his considerable experienced-based knowledge to a wide range of wildlife projects throughout Montana, both as a US Forest Service biologist and as a volunteer. The projects include multi-year surveys of Montana’s bats and Black Swifts, monitoring owls and eagles, and preservation and restoration of Sharp-tailed Grouse.  View Article/Photos


September     Don and Doug MacCarter for their ground-breaking osprey research on Flathead Lake that contributed significantly to the public’s understanding of harmful effects of pesticides in aquatic food chains; their continuous help in the rehabilitation, conservation, and protection of birds of prey across the west; for shaping the lives of hundreds of young kids across our country; and for helping save countless individual wild birds and prey across the west. 
                      Don was also recognized for his long-term commitment to public and youth education about wildlife and wildlife habitat in Minnesota and New Mexico; and his wildlife educational and photographic contributions to the Department of New Mexico Game and Fish. Doug was recognized for his long-term commitment to public and youth education about wildlife, birds of prey, and value of habitat in Arizona and Montana.
          The recognition of Don’s contributions was made posthumously. The recognition certificate was presented to his wife Jane MacCarter.  View Article/Photos

March           Linda de Kort  for her life-long dedication to educating students of all ages about the natural world, her commitment to connecting young people with their local natural places and local birds, and instilling in them a conservation ethic. Linda taught biology at Flathead High for 24 years, where she sent students outdoors to learn through observation and experiment; she started and shaped Flathead Audubon’s innovative Conservation Education program; she founded the West Valley Naturalists Group; and while travelling in such places as Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica, she took bird education to local villages, trained nature guides, and assisted in conservation research. Flathead Audubon thanks Linda for sharing her commitment to conservation and her deep appreciation of science with so many people. View Article/Photos


October     Laura Katzman for her commitment to protect Flathead Valley’s riparian/wetland habitats and high quality bird habitat and for her leadership in the conservation of the West Valley Ponds. Over the last five years, Laura successfully obtained multiple grants, developed important partner/landowner relationships, and helped raise thousands of private dollars for the Flathead Land Trust to successfully protect 400 acres of farmlands and pothole wetlands benefitting Sandhill cranes, migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors. We also thank Laura for her help in creating the new West Valley Ponds Viewing Area! View Article/Photos

November     Gary and Mary Sloan for their long-term commitment to conservation, education, and volunteerism for northwest Montana’s wild country, wildlife, and outdoor recreation. Gary and Mary were both beloved educators in Whitefish and made a mark in many students’ lives. Over the last few decades, as spectacular citizen scientists, they have helped map old growth forests and undertaken many important wildlife monitoring projects for agencies and non-profits. Gary has helped build and deploy dozens of common loon nesting platforms while Mary helped create the outstanding native flower herbarium in the Whitefish Library. View Article/Photos

March     The Grosswiler Family for protecting almost 400 acres of productive agricultural land and critical high quality pothole wetlands in the Flathead’s West Valley by placing their lands in conservation easements with The Flathead Land Trust. These conserved uplands and wetlands provide excellent habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors and include a significant portion of the only known sandhill crane staging area in the Flathead Valley.
         Family members Catherine Baier and Cindy Marvin worked diligently with Flathead Land Trust to put the conservation easements in place. Cindy’s son Tanner helped initiate this conservation effort and many in the family supported this endeavor.
         We also thank these landowners for their willingness to work with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to permanently set aside an area overlooking the ponds for public viewing and education. View Article/Photos


September       Steve Thompson for his outstanding commitment to conservation of wild lands, his incredible ability to bring together people from diverse backgrounds, his passion and dedication to resource conservation, and his recent quest to tackle education and solutions for climate change. View Article/Photos

October       Janet Ellis for her lifelong dedication to wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation, her efforts to improve government regulations and policies with respect to development and associated impacts to wildlife, her use of science to inform and influence governmental action and public understanding, and her genuine willingness to work with all of Montana’s Audubon members and Chapters. View Article/Photos

February       Marilyn Wood in recognition of her outstanding commitment to protect the richest and most vibrant, productive lands of northwestern Montana in perpetuity. Also, in recognition for her incredible negotiating skills, insightful leadership, and enthusiasm that you put into your conservation work, and for your great conservation successes in the North Fork of the Flathead and Swan Valleys. View Article/Photos

May        Flathead Electric Coop in recognition of Flathead Electric Cooperative’s creative and progressive actions over the last 10 years to reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency in their electric energy program. Examples include capturing methane and other green-house gasses at the Flathead County Solid Waste site, increasing their use of renewables such as solar and water, and increasing energy efficiency in our homes. These activities have required unique collaborations with Flathead businesses and residents and were often the first in Montana. We encourage Flathead Electric Co-op to continue these efforts. View Article/Photos


March      Steve Gniadek for his outstanding and lifelong commitment to the wildlife sciences, his application of science to the conservation and management of wildlife and wildlife habitat, his support and participation in conservation education for all people, his depth of knowledge about birds and other wildlife, his attention to detail and accuracy, and his willingness to support and volunteer for many conservation causes and organizations. View Article/Photos


October      Jim Watson and Carol Bibler for exemplary leadership in community and conservation; significant contributions to the development and creation of the outstanding Foys to Blacktail Community Forest and Trail system on 320 acres of highly-appreciated new lands added to Herron Park; helping to create our first meaningful countywide trails plan; supporting open space, agriculture, and sustainable forestry through Montana Land Reliance and local land trusts; service to Montana’s Forest Stewardship Program and American Tree Farm system; your support of outdoor and hunter education, youth mentoring, and youth hunting; and for their incredible sense of community and amazing generosity.  View Article/Photos

February     Jewel Basin Hawk Watch Observers BJ Worth, Diane Lundgren, Barbara Summer, Lisa Bate, Barbara Boorman for consistent and outstanding commitment to the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch since its inception in 2008 and the hundreds of hours each has contributed annually in preparing, commuting, observing, recording, and reporting of  the Jewel Basin fall Hawk Watch raptor data over the last 8 years. In recognition of their collective outstanding raptor identification skills, cheerful and delightful attitude, perseverance regardless of weather, attention to detail, and patience and ability to work with all other volunteers.  View Article/Photos

May     Susannah and Dan Casey for their outstanding and lifelong commitments to the conservation of birds and important bird habitats throughout Montana and the west, for recognizing the need for and supporting the protection of Flathead Lake’s north shore and Flathead River, for their consistent and accurate collection and maintenance of long-term bird observation records at the local and state levels, their long-term support of and innumerable contributions to Flathead Audubon, the establishment of the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch, and their continued collaborations across Montana and the west to support both avian science and conservation work. View Article/Photos


October        John Frederick for decades of personal work and leadership in successfully maintaining the natural and cultural significance of the North Fork corridor of the Flathead River system.  View Article/Photo in Post

February      Val Parsons for bringing foresight, tenacity and passion to the development of a trail system throughout the Flathead Valley, providing youth and adults the opportunity for healthy and safe non-motorized recreation. View Article/Photo in Post

April             Mayre Flowers for a lifetime of dedication to the community common good, in advocating for sensible growth and development, recycling and waste reduction, citizen involvement, and on-the-ground changes to improve and protect our local economy and unique lifestyle; for educating, advising and sometimes nudging our elected officials to adhere to established law, for courage and steadfastness in the face of controversy and for her profound belief in the goodness of people; for leading us all into a proud future for our Flathead Valley.  View Article/Photo in Post


September   Lynn Kelly in recognition of her pivotal research on the Common Loon; her almost 30 years of dedication to monitoring and protecting Montana’s loons; the many hours and miles she has devoted to educating the public about loons; and her creative and diligent approach to developing a network of volunteers and professionals to carry this work forward.  View Article/Photo in Post

January        Josh Gubits for training, coordinating and working with volunteers to monitor water quality, identify and report aquatic invasive species and promote watershed stewardship in Northwest Montana.  View Article/Photo in Post

May               Jan Bonham Metzmaker for an impressive legacy of dedicated community service and inspiring conservation work spanning over four decades in the Flathead Valley.  View Article/Photo in Post


September   Bill McClaren for accomplishments in conservation gardening, including constructing an outstanding example of native plant, no-till, back-yard wildlife gardening, educating numerous Flathead Valley gardeners in organic gardening, and ongoing nurturing of the 7-acre Community Arboretum at FVCC.  View Article in Post

March           George Darrow for years of dedication helping to preserve Montana’s landscapes and wildlife, clean water and air, with special thanks for being chief sponsor of the Montana Water Policy Act of 1967, and principal author of the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) in 1971. View Article/Photo in Post

May               Jean Robocker in recognition of a lifetime of conservation and conservation education achievements including: helped found the Flathead Audubon Society; was one of the first FAS conservation educators, spending many hours in local classrooms teaching about birds and their importance to our lives; put under Conservation Easement over 250 acres of prime river bottom lands, with Eugene; promoted conservation and conservation education as a member of the FVCC Board of Directors, the State Board of Education, and the Flathead County Planning Board.  View Article in Post


September    Brian Marotz in recognition of his skills, determination, and effectiveness in preserving fresh water fishery habitat and conserving native trout populations and their genetic diversity.  View Article in Post

March           Chris Ruffatto for 17 years of organizing and mentoring student monitoring of Haskill Creek, involving almost 500 Whitefish High School students in the project; for fostering outdoor research skills and a conservation ethic in these students; and for providing important data for local watershed resource planning. View Article in Post

May              Teresa Wenum for 16 years of shaping conservation education in the Flathead Valley, and for an outstanding record of forging and sustaining collaborative partnerships to provide continued support for many local nature-centered projects. View Article in Post


December     Guest Services Department of the Kalispell Target Store for providing convenient and cost free glass recycling for the Flathead Valley. View Article in Post

February      Bigfork High School Cave Club for cleaning and monitoring caves in Glacier Park and local national forests, and using GIS mapping and other techniques to create original baseline data for use by the management agencies responsible for protecting these caves. View Article in Post and Photos (see pictures on last page)


March           Milt and B.J. Carlson for their many accomplishments in the support and advocacy of conservation and proper land use planning in the Flathead Valley, and for being premier examples of good and generous citizens of our community. View Article/Photo in Post

April             Leonard Howke for many years of volunteer service helping to study, manage and introduce young people to Montana’s fish and wildlife resources. View Article/Photo in Post


January        Foys to Blacktail Trails for significant progress towards its goal of preserving public access to forested lands connecting the Foys Lake area to Blacktail Mountain. View Article in Post

March           Flathead Valley Community College Green Team for responsible environmental activities, including: Recycling, use of non-toxic products and resource-efficient equipment, developing Earth Day programs and Green Symposium, and funding scholarships from recycling proceeds. View Article in Post

May             Local Native Plant Entrepreneurs for promoting the use of native plants in gardens and landscaping in the Flathead Valley through their native plant nurseries: Terry Divoky (Windflower Native Plant Nursery), Jeff Evans (Sleepingtree Native Plants), Maria Mantas <Stillwater Native Plant Nursery>, Laurie Hammill <Nursery for Native Plants>; or native plant landscaping business: Greg Gunderson, Andrew Belts, and David Noftsinger (Forrestoration).  View Article in Post


December     Jane Lopp & Associates for support provided to Flathead conservation projects and non-profits by sponsoring a series of Work Days benefiting the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area. View Article in Post

February      Dale Becker and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program for providing a successful, positive conservation example to others. Their numerous projects include: Wildlife mitigation features in the reconstruction of Highway 93, restoration of Trumpeter Swans, Peregrine Falcons, Northern Leopard Frogs and Bighorn Sheep, Kerr Dam habitat mitigation, Grizzly Bear conservation, and developing survey techniques. View Article in Post

May              Dr. Glenn and Hazel Johnston, Tom and Terry Siderius, and Chuck and Dan Siderius for protecting over 1,300 acres of productive agricultural and forest land, wetlands, wildlife habitat and long stretches of undeveloped shoreline along the Flathead River. View Article/Photos in Post


December    Lex Blood for outstanding contributions to conservation education and his crucial support for and participation in many local projects engaged in the preservation of the Flathead’s landscape, environment and wildlife. View Article in Post

February      Habitat for Humanity Resale Store for keeping usable construction materials out of landfills, encouraging intelligent recycling and building a strong community atmosphere. View Article in Post

April             Waste Not Project, Mayre Flowers creator and director, a consumer education program that promotes ways to reduce the volume and toxicity of Flathead County’s waste stream. View Article in Post


December    Flathead Land Trust and Montana Land Reliance for helping private landowners preserve and protect open spaces and wildlife habitat. View Article in Post – see page 8

March           Montana Coffee Traders for its efforts to support habitat preservation for wildlife, especially for birds. View Article in Post

April             Kalispell and Whitefish Parks and Recreation Departments for their tree planting programs, which preserve and enhance the natural environments of these cities for the benefit of city residents who live under the urban forest canopy, and wild birds that live within the forest canopy and understory trees. View Article in Post


November    North Valley Recycling, Pacific Steel & Recycling, and Valley Recycling for contributions to the reduction of waste in the Flathead. View Article in Post – see page 5

February      Loren Kreck for helping to save and preserve some of the Flathead’s pristine places. View Article in Post

March           Wade Fredenberg (USFWS), Beth Gardner (USFS), and Clint Muhlfeld (MFWP) for Bulltrout and Westslope Cutthroat conservation efforts. View Article in Post


October        FarmHands for publishing a free map of local food growers, thereby helping preserve open space and wildlife habitat. View Article in Post – see page 4

February      Corry Cullen for his efforts to bring recycling of glass to the Valley. View Article in Post

March           Jack Whitney for a lifetime of conservation effort and stewardship. View Article and Photo in Post – see pages 11-12


January        Bigfork Development Company for leadership in support of the Swan River Corridor, and maintenance of the Swan River Nature Trail.  View Article

February      Rails-to-Trails for leadership in developing a system of trails dedicated to walking and non-motorized riding.  View Article

April             Flathead Wildlife, Inc. for numerous conservation activities including selling economical bluebird houses and using the proceeds to preserve local wildlife habitat.  View Article in Post – see page 7.


December    Elna Darrow for her work as Chair of the Flathead Basin Commission.  View Article

February      Gael Bissell and Alan Wood through advocacy for their work on the Thompson/Fisher conservation easement.  View Article

April             The Organic Farmers of Flathead Valley for preserving our soil, protecting ground water, avoiding air pollution, and safeguarding environment.  View Article