Every year Audubon Florida recognizes the state's leading conservationists with a suite of annual awards. This year awards were presented both virtually and as part of a small, local ceremony in Southwest Florida held at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on December 2.
The Everglades Champion award is given for bold action on behalf of the Everglades or continuous leadership on behalf of Everglades restoration and the recovery of Lake Okeechobee and its estuaries.
Federal biologist Kim Dryden has been a champion for listed species throughout Southwest Florida through her role at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, especially for Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan initiatives. Her work strongly supported the protection of many iconic Everglades species, including Florida panthers, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, gopher tortoises, Wood Storks, Florida bonneted bats, and American crocodiles.
Kim has been a leader, calling for water quality improvements within the Picayune Strand Restoration Project and providing invaluable support for pollution source control.
Kim works closely with the stakeholder community and often represents stakeholder interests in her agency comment letters, biological opinions, and recommendations – demonstrating her commitment to collaboration and mutually agreeable outcomes. She has never shrunk from difficult situations where wildlife protections were at stake, for which she is well known amongst all the restoration agencies. Kim will be retiring soon, and she leaves a legacy of Everglades leadership behind her that has not gone unrecognized. This award acknowledges her long-standing contribution to improving Western Everglades restoration, the national wildlife refuge system, and the protection of species and habitats.