The 47th Annual Conservation Forum, entitled "Birding: Take a Walk on the Wild Side," was held at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton on Wednesday and Thursday, November 4th and 5th. The Conservation and Beautification Committee of Garden Club of Virginia was pleased to award the 2004 Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award to two distinguished conservationists, Dr. Charles K. Price and Robert A.S. Wright. 


Dr. Charles K. Price helped establish Friends of Bandy Field in June 1998. Bandy Field had served as an unofficial park in Richmond for many years, but threats to sell the property occasionally arose, the most serious being the one that arose in the spring of 1998. Both St. Catherine's School and the U. of Richmond expressed desires to purchase the property. At that time, Charles served as Chairperson of the Far West Neighborhood Team and had a great interest in and a long history of promoting conservation in the area. His leadership and organizational skills were immediately recognized as a great asset to Friends of Bandy Field, and he was chosen to become Chairman of the FOBF Planning Committee, and he has continuously served as leader of the organization, first in this capacity and then as President and Chairman of the FOBF Board of Directors when it was established in June, 1999.


Charles led the effort to make Bandy Field an official Richmond city park. He built a membership of 250 households, collected 2,200 petition signatures, had a community consensus-building session, and sent hundreds of letters to Richmond City Council members. His leadership was critical to the effort. He developed a strategy to win over the city council, and Friends of Bandy Field prevailed when on May 10, 1999, Council voted 6-3 to make Bandy Field an official city park, passing up an offer of over two million dollars from the U. of Richmond.


THEN, he led a fundraising effort to raise over $50,000 to create an endowment so that the organization could pay its agreed share of the annual maintenance cost to the City of Richmond, and he has worked to bring to fruition his vision of establishing wetlands and enhancing wildlife habitat on the field. A wetland area has been created, volunteers have planted hundreds of native plants, and considerable progress has been made towards removing invasive plants.

In addition, he created a coalition of four park support groups to work to have the city of Richmond grant conservation easements to the park groups, restricting sale or development on these nature parks.


Robert A.S. Wright is an environmental planner, professional wetland scientist and certified forestry and wildlife conservationist. Named as the "plant detective" by the Richmond Times Dispatch, he uses plants as links to local history. He has been studying the plants along the James River since he was in junior high school, and he is a wonderful source of information and an inspiration, collecting and documenting over 10,000 species.


Robert is the project manager for Bandy Field, having inventoried plants, he selected native plants for habitat restoration, identified and suggested removal of invasive exotics, and planned a landscape that is ecologically healthy and wildlife-friendly. He authored the Final Action Plan, a 26 page manual for The Bandy Field Nature Park Habitat Improvement with an additional detailed supplement illustrating the technical aspects of this project. The project includes: 1. Identification, removal and/or management of invasive plant species, 2. Identification and planning of wildlife and biodiversity plantings, 3. Planning, creation and monitoring of drainage swale habitat, and 4. Volunteer monitoring training and public outreach education, and action plan implementation days.


These two fine gentlemen have located, picked up, and delivered special plants for all three habitats; wetland, native woodland and butterfly. They have supervised their installations assisted by the Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation, the Alliance for Chesapeake Bay, the Pocohontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society, Garden Club of Virginia Members, and volunteers from local civic organizations, Eagle Scouts, students and individuals. Their love of Virginia's diverse green spaces and her native plants has caused them to assume positions of leadership in the preservation of this James River watershed, and in establishing these habitats for the ecological education of the public who enjoy this small green oasis in the midst of the city - a boon to man and wildlife alike.


The Boxwood Garden Club and the Tuckahoe Garden Club of Westhampton proposed Dr. Price and Mr. Wright for the Dugdale Award, and I would like their presidents, Jody Branch and Patricia Sauer to accompany them as they receive their awards. Congratulations to you all for a job well done.

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