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In Memoriam

A Great Ally, David Widell

Catherine Hickey


David Widell, in 2005 with his son Ty. Photo by Fritz Reid.
Californiaís wetlands conservation community lost one of its most fervent champions in August, and PRBO lost a great friend, with the passing of David L. Widell. Our shared endeavors to protect the habitats needed by great populations of migratory shorebirds and waterbirds in the Pacific Flyway brought PRBO and David together in productive partnerships. He was an undeniable force and an important ally in achieving our conservation goals.

With undeterred passion and commitment, without flinching or wavering, David Widell fought to protect the Grasslands Ecological Area in California, a site of International Importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. Year after year he helped secure water supplies for nearly one-third of Californiaís Central Valley wetlands, by working with environmentalists, hunters, agricultural water districts, and public agencies. Full water supplies, as mandated by law through the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, were finally realized for the first time in 20 years in this year of his passing.

As Grassland Water Districtís General Manager and Director of Governmental Affairs, David was a key figure not only in the waterfowl conservation community; he also believed in and promoted the value of wetlands in supporting a diversity of wildlife and ecological functions. He supported PRBO and other conservation organizations in our efforts to document and promote that value.

Conservation of the resource was not a job for David, it was not a hobby: it was his life. His passion and determination were infectious, and his love of the Grasslands was not his alone but reflected an entire community of hunters and wetlands conservationists who will carry on his legacy.

PRBO thanks Davidís family, friends, and colleagues for standing at his side. We are beyond fortunate to have had David as an ally in our mission and as an inspiration.