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Patchogue, New York— National Park Service Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach announced the winners of the Regional Director's Natural Resource Awards. The awards recognize outstanding contributions to natural resource stewardship in five categories that include park management, resource management, maintenance, and research. "These winners represent the best efforts to preserve our natural resources at parks throughout the northeast region," said Reidenbach. "Whether facing the broad challenges of global climate change or adverse local conditions, good science results in good management decisions that help protect our parks. A collaborative approach to the protection and restoration of park resources is becoming increasingly important as parks deal with such issues as climate change and habitat fragmentation due to urbanization."
Fire Island National Seashore's facility manager, James (Jim) Dunphy, received the regional award for Natural Resource Stewardship through Maintenance. Dunphy, who has worked at Fire Island National Seashore since 1993 in a variety of maintenance positions, was recognized for his role as a lead manager in drafting and implementing the park's Climate Friendly Park program. He was also cited for his level of cooperation in working with other employees and park partners, and for providing leadership for his own staff in support of natural resource programs throughout the park.
Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Barry Sullivan, who had previously worked at Fire Island National Seashore, was named Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship. Sullivan was cited for leading a multi-disciplinary effort on the regional Ocean Stewardship Implementation Strategy, initiating a network of coastal parks, wildlife refuges, marine sanctuaries and estuarine reserves and developing marine resource conservation initiatives with multiagency collaboration.
Another 2009 recipient of the Northeast Regional Natural Resource Awards has Fire Island connections. S. Jeffress Williams of the U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center received the regional Natural Resource Research award. Williams was cited for his work in coastal resource preservation and understanding the implications of climate change and sea level rise on national park sites, including Fire Island National Seashore.
Other recipients included Kristina Heister of Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, who was named the regional Trish Patterson Student Conservation Association Award for Natural Resource Management/Small Park; and Margaret Beer of the National Program Center in Fort Collins, Colorado, received the regional award for Professional Excellence in Natural Resources.
"We are particularly proud that so many of this year's regional winners of this award have Fire Island connections," stated current Fire Island National Seashore Superintendent Chris Soller.
Dunphy began his National Park Service career as a gardener and field-level maintenance worker. This hands-on experience has given him a greater appreciation for the complexity of park management actions. His grounding in real world problems and solutions has given him the ability to inject common sense and practicality into management decisions, since he was selected as the park's facility manager in 2006. Dunphy has taken a lead in implementing recommendations from the park's Climate Friendly Park program, enabling his staff to replace inefficient lighting, heating and cooling systems. He also serves on two national committees for climate change and asset management. Dunphy and his staff help protect natural resources through their maintenance work, and they provide logistical and ground support for many of the park's researchers, as well. "I'm very honored to be accepting this award," said Dunphy. "It serves as a reminder of what we can accomplish when we all work together as a team: the scientists and researchers, park managers and the people in the field..."