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For Immediate Use                                                                                               Contact: Alison Sheehey, (760) 378-2531
April 14, 2010                                                                                                             

Kern River Preserve Manager, Reed Tollefson is awarded Sierra Business Council’s 2009 Vision 2020 award

Weldon, CA – Reed Tollefson, received the Sierra Business Council's 2009 Vision 2020 Award for his exemplary leadership in the Southern Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Business Council created the Vision 2020 awards to recognize and encourage leadership in the Sierra, honoring community members as their work continues to achieve excellence in projects and approaches that foster community vitality, environmental quality, economic prosperity, and social fairness.

Tollefson's focus on land protection and stewardship in the Southern Sierra Nevada has been a major factor in many of the local land protection successes for over 20 years. Tollefson has been the manager of Audubon's Kern River Preserve since 1992 where he has been responsible for conserving over 22,000 acres of land in the Kern River Valley and Walker Basin through direct acquisition or conservation easements. These protection efforts have kept the rural nature of these communities and helped area ranchers survive during tumultuous economic times.

“I’m honored to receive this award that not only recognizes my conservation work, but also recognizes the importance of the South Fork Kern River Valley,” said Tollefson. “The Kern River Preserve, and the valley in general, sits in the middle of a vitally important nature corridor that runs from the Sierra Nevada to the desert and coastal ranges. These are some of California’s most spectacular habitat areas, and are really worth our effort to protect.”

His success is due to his ability to work closely with many partners. He is passionate about restoring riparian vegetation and diligently removes invasive weeds preventing economic devastation to the ranching industry as well as native habitats. Much of his success is due to his ability to build bridges within the ranching community in order to secure permanent protection for California's largest native riparian forest.

Tollefson educates many people about how habitats are interconnected – via water, wildlife corridors, and human activity. Through land stewardship he has protected the native cottonwood-willow forest habitat along the Kern River, protecting it from degradation and development. The South Fork Kern River Valley is considered a Globally Significant Important Bird Area by Audubon California because it hosts nearly 200 nesting species, including Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher.

Audubon Kern River Preserve is working to address regional conservation issues in the face of climate change and threats to wildlife and biological diversity with the Southern Sierra Partnership, a collaborative effort with The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Business Council, Tejon Ranch Conservancy, Sequoia Riverlands Trust and the National Parks Service. §

About Audubon Kern River Preserve
The Kern River Preserve is managed by Audubon California for the preservation of one of California’s largest contiguous cottonwood-willow riparian forests and the wildlife it supports.

Audubon Kern River Preserve supporters provide financial and volunteer support for Preserve outreach, education, wildlife habitat protection & stewardship.

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