This episode of Treehuggers International originally aired on August 23, 2009, on KBZT FM 94/9. Thanks to Bill Toone and Sunni Black for their help making this program possible.
With the release of conservation biologist Bill Toone’s new memoir On the Wings of the Condor, it seemed like a good time to repost and share this 2009 Treehuggers International program I produced featuring a conversation with Bill, the founder and executive director of EcoLife Conservation. At the time of our interview the organization was still under its original name as the EcoLife Foundation.
Bill spoke about his work as part of the federally-appointed California Condor Recovery Team, which took the last surviving free-flying condors into captivity under federal direction in 1987 to preserve as much diversity of the gene pool as possible, and to prevent the extinction of the species altogether.
Reintroduction of condors into the wild began in 1991 along the Big Sur coast, Pinnacles National Park in Monterey County, Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge in Kern County, and in 1996 at the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona near the Grand Canyon. Condor releases continue today, with a current population of about 330 birds in the wild.
Bill also discussed EcoLife’s Monarch butterfly expeditions to Mexico – from Morelia in Michoacán, to the community of Zacazonapan near Mexico City on the slopes of Cerro Pelón – and his work with EcoLife Conservation highlighting the “absolute necessity” for wise water use not just in notoriously dry Southern California, but throughout the world.
The urgency of Bill’s message, in part, comes from his time working on overseas conservation projects in regions of the world where clean drinking water is simply not available. It’s not just a matter of a lack of indoor plumbing – sometimes water is located so far away it becomes a danger for family members to get it, and sometimes what water is available is so dirty, simply to drink it risks death and disease. That urgency, and need for thoughtful conservation, remains today.
More about this post:
- Ecolife Conservation
- California Condor Recovery Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- National Park Service, Pinnacles National Park Condor Recovery Program
- Ventana Wildlife Society
- San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
- Condor Celebrates 40 Years Saved from Extinction, Yet Still Endangered (ABC 10 News; 03/11/23)
- Monarch’s Endangered Status Doesn’t Carry Much Weight (San Diego Union-Tribune; 8/3/22)
- Life and Work with Bill Toone (San Diego Voyager; 3/14/22)
- Six Ways Californians Can Help Save the Iconic Monarch (San Diego Union-Tribune; 3/6/21)
- Saving the World via Fish, Water, Vegetables and Fruit (San Diego Union-Tribune; 10/22/18)
- Meet Bill Toone and Sunni Black of EcoLife Conservation (San Diego Voyager; 6/14/18)
- Escondido Man’s Torrey Pine Tables Could Set Four World Records (ABC 10 News; 9/22/17)
- Beat the Drought and Save Monarch Butterflies (EcoLife Conservation, 4/21/15)
- Bill Toone’s Ecolife: Working to Save Native Wildlife and People (East County Magazine; 1/1/15)
- North American Leaders Urged to Restore Monarch Butterflies Habitat (New York Times; 2/14/14)
- Conservationist Bill Toone Gives Us a Bird’s Eye View (San Diego Magazine; 12/15/11)
- Joy and Excitement on the Monarch Trail in Mexico (Texas Butterfly Ranch; 3/10/11)
- Saving the Monarch Butterflies’ Migration (CBS Evening News; 3/30/10)
- Last California Condor in the Wild is Captured (San Diego Union-Tribune; 4/20/87)
Banner photo by Chris Trent, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On the Wings of the Condor photo by Bill Toone © 2022, not intended for redistribution.
Friend of the Butterflies photo by Roy Toft © 2011, not intended for redistribution.