March 21st, 2018

Victoria Touchstone Named the 2018 National Wildlife Refuge System Employee of the Year


Victoria Touchstone Named the 2018 National Wildlife Refuge System
Employee of the Year
March 21, 2018

Washington, D.C.​ The National Wildlife Refuge Association has named Victoria Touchstone as our 2018 National Wildlife Refuge System Employee of the Year. Ms. Touchstone is a Refuge Planner for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Complex in southern California, and has developed and implemented critical projects that have not only benefited wildlife populations,but also created greater public access for the community.

In her sixteen years with the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Ms. Touchstone has completed multiple major habitat restoration projects, has drafted and finalized four major Comprehensive Conservations Plans for four different refuges, and expanded public access. “Ms. Touchstone’s personal dedication to conserving habitats and protecting wildlife at the San Diego Refuge Complex exemplifies her commitment to her community and to the National Wildlife Refuge System,” said Geoffrey Haskett, President of the National Wildlife Refuge Association. “But her commitment to wildlife conservation extends beyond her role with the Refuge System as she rescues wildlife and uses her backyard as a refuge.”

Ms. Touchstone’s backyard is an oasis to turtles and tortoises rescued from the San Diego Turtle and Tortoise Society. For her personal vacations, she attends the annual California Trails and Greenways Conference and implements these new ideas and methods at the refuge. Her extensive knowledge on environmental regulations, ranging from the National Environmental Policy Act to the Coastal Zone Management Act, has not only helped the San Diego Complex refuges, but others in the state, like Modoc NWR where she is helping to implement a sustainable public access trail much like one she is developing for San Diego NWR.

Ms. Touchstone has spearheaded many projects throughout her time as Refuge Planner. She worked diligently on the Seal Beach NWR Thin-Layer Sediment Augmentation, the first coastal salt marsh restoration project of its kind on the Pacific coast. Her ability to innovate has benefited many endangered species, like the light-footed Ridgway’s rail. Vicki played a large role in the South San Diego Bay Coastal Wetland Restoration and Enhancement Project where she used her skills and expertise in environmental regulation to plan, implement, and get permits and grants. She secured $650,000 in funding from writing a grant for her Bayside Birding and Walking Trail project In addition to all of this, Vicki is the primary author of San Diego NWR’s Fire Management Plan. Ms. Touchstone’s level of achievement cannot be overstated – she is quite simply at the core of nearly everything the San Diego NWR Complex is able to accomplish. As the 2018 Refuge System Employee of the Year, we thank her for her commitment to getting the job done right, her extensive attention to detail, and promotion of community involvement. For these reasons, we are proud to present this award to the very deserving, Victoria Touchstone.

Ms. Touchstone’s award will be presented on May 24, 2018, at the National Wildlife Refuge Association’s Annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C.

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