California Condor Chris Trent USFWS

EcoLife’s Bill Toone on the Future of Condors, Monarchs and Water

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:

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.