Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dr. James K. Bissell To Receive 2011 John C. Oliver Environmental Leadership Award

Dr. James K. Bissell is the winner of the 2011 John C. Oliver Environmental Leadership Award from the Friends of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center.
Dr. Bissell will be honored at the Sunset Celebration on June 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie.
Gov. Tom Ridge is the guest speaker and will present the award to Dr. Bissell.
Dr. Bissell has an extensive environmental career spanning over 40 years in botany, and the protection of natural heritage resources. At the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, he currently serves as the Curator of Botany and Director of Conservation.
“Jim has the most acute awareness of habitat potential of any field biologist I have ever known; it’s like he has a special sense for knowing where in a swamp there’s going to be a rare plant community,” said Dr. J. Michael Campbell, Professor of Biology, Mercyhurst College and President of the Lake Erie Region Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Academy of Science.
Dr. Campbell added, “Jim has been active in PA state-level rare plant management work for at least two decades, and he has never stopped being a key resource in educating the public about the rich botanical resources we enjoy in this region, through free nature hikes and other activities in which people are directly engaged in invasive plant control work, at sites where invasives imperil rare and endangered plants.”
“Jim is responsible for the majority of our modern knowledge on the flora of Erie County, with particular emphasis on the flora of Presque Isle State Park. Jim has discovered the first populations of several plant species previously unknown to Pennsylvania. Since beginning his work on Presque Isle in 1984, he has found 80 species of Pennsylvania threatened, rare, or endangered plants. All of this helps make him the foremost botanical expert in the area,” said Christopher Tracey, Ecologist and Conservation Planning Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
The award is named in honor of John C. Oliver, the first Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the first Board Chair of the Friends of TREC, and lifelong environmental leader.
Prior winners of the Award include Jean Stull Cunningham in 2010 and Dr. Robert W. Light in 2008.
Dr. Bissell was selected by the Board of the Friends of TREC to recognize his significant environmental leadership & impact at TREC, Presque Isle, and Western Pennsylvania.
To register for the June 16th Sunset Celebration, call 814-835-1384 or visit the Friends of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center website.

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