Campus: CSU Stanislaus -- November 2, 2005

Retired Professor Honored by U.S. Department of Interior

Retired California State University, Stanislaus Zoology Professor Dr. Dan Williams, who has dedicated himself to the conservation of rare and endangered species and established programs to protect and preserve them, will receive a special award from the U.S. Department of Interior on Wednesday, November 9.

Williams, a member of the University's Biology Department faculty for 31 years and founder of the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP) at CSU Stanislaus in 1992, will receive the U.S. Department of Interior Conservation Service Award for Private Partners. The certificate and citation signed by Secretary of Interior Gale Norton is the department's highest award for private partners -- non-governmental individuals or organizations. It recognizes individuals and groups not employed by the Department of Interior who have performed outstanding and direct service to the Department.

"California State University, Stanislaus takes great pride in the dedicated work that has been done over the years by Professor Dan Williams to merit this honor," CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani said. "His foresight in establishing the Endangered Species Recovery Program through California State University, Stanislaus continues to make a difference in the ongoing drive to preserve native species and the ecosystems upon which they depend in central California."

"During his career, Dr. Williams worked tirelessly to conserve and recover imperiled species in Central California," said Steve Thompson, Manager of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's California-Nevada Operations Office. "Dr. Williams epitomizes the Service's notion of a partner, a respected colleague, and a friend in the conservation of our natural resources."

The Endangered Species Recovery Program has focused on more than 30 rare and endangered animal and plant species. Current research is concentrated on riparian brush rabbits, kangaroo rats, riparian woodrats, San Joaquin kit foxes, Mojave ground squirrels, blunt-nosed leopard lizards, California red-legged frogs and a number of other animal and plant species. Some of these species are on the road to recovery or have significant conservation measures in progress on their behalf as a result of Williams' commitment and determination.

Riparian brush rabbits, one of the most endangered animals in North America, may now be making a comeback as a result of these program efforts. Captive bred young rabbits have been reintroduced and are now being monitored at the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge in western Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties where their habitat is being restored and protected.

Since being founded by Williams 13 years ago and funded by a number of grants, in particular major ones from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the ESRP has grown into a cooperative research program working with local, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, corporations and private landowners. It is one of the largest cooperative conservation programs in the country.

The program includes up to 45 biologists, students and support staff, research associates and a number of collaborators in government and universities all over the world. Coordinated at CSU Stanislaus where faculty and staff work out of an office on the Turlock campus, the program is headquartered in Fresno and another field office is located in Bakersfield. The main office is located in Fresno because federal and state agency offices the program works with are located there.

Now a resident of Oregon since his retirement from the CSU Stanislaus faculty in 2003, Williams is credited with doing the extensive research that resulted in a number of rare species being listed as threatened or endangered. Those classifications helped bring about conservation programs coordinated with landowners and public agencies to preserve those species and their habitats.

"The people of California will continue to benefit from Dr. Williams' tradition of excellence in protecting threatened and endangered species," Secretary of Interior Norton said in the award citation.

Dr. Patrick Kelly, a member of the CSU Stanislaus Biology faculty who succeeded Williams as ESRP Coordinator in 2002 and has been involved in the program's research activities for many years, noted that Williams is highly deserving of the award.

"What he pulled together in this program with his experience and knowledge is a road map for the recovery of threatened and endangered species," Kelly said. "He demonstrated commitment as a scientist to really solving these problems through his dogged determination to follow through and gain the support of the agencies with the resources. He dedicated himself to this program and provided the leadership and foresight it took to help make a difference."

Information on the Endangered Species Recovery Program is available on its web site at: http://esrp.csustan.edu.

Contact: Don Hansen, (209) 667-3997


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