foothills covered in dry, golden grasses

Wildlife Conservation Board Director Honored for His Work

John Donnelly, executive director of the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), recently received the Rangeland Conservation Impact Award from the California Rangeland Trust. The WCB authorizes and allocates voter-approved funds for the purchase of land and waters suitable for recreation purposes and the preservation, protection and restoration of wildlife habitat.

“The California Rangeland Trust is proud to honor John Donnelly with our first Rangeland Conservation Impact Award,” said California Rangeland Trust CEO Nita Vail. “John works diligently on behalf of the state to successfully protect our rangeland, air and water quality, wildlife habitat and local food supplies through his leadership at the Wildlife Conservation Board.”

The Rangeland Conservation Impact Award is a new honor presented by the California Rangeland Trust, a nonprofit organization working to protect and enhance the environmental and economic benefits working landscapes provide. The award is given to conservation professionals that exemplify true dedication to advancing rangeland conservation and preserving the viability of California’s ranching industry and Western legacy, while protecting the valuable habitat and ecosystems provided by working ranches.

“Rangelands play a significant role in providing plants and animals refuge from urban development. Their importance in the mosaic of lands in California cannot be over stated,” Donnelly said. “It is an honor to receive this award from the California Rangeland Trust.”

Donnelly started work at the WCB in 1996 as a land agent. In 2003, he was promoted to assistant executive director and then became executive director in 2006. While at the WCB, he has overseen 530 projects that protect more than 466,000 acres of conservation easement and fee title lands, statewide, and restored and/or enhanced more than 92,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Having grown up in Sierra Valley, which is predominantly a ranching and farming area, Donnelly worked on ranches before he began his wildlife career. He studied and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at California State University, Sacramento, then worked for the California Department of Fish and Game (now Wildlife) from 1988 to 1996.

John Donnelly was honored Sept. 26 at “A Western Affair,” the California Rangeland Trust’s annual family event in Woodside.

green and gray, grassy rangeland and tree-covered foothills
California rangeland in Sierra County. WCB photo

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420