George Wallace learned to love the landscape when he was growing up, spending much of his time outdoors on horseback and hunting.
“I watched the landscape around me slowly develop. I watched access to (the environment) close up,” Wallace, CSU professor and director of the Center for Protected Areas Management and Training, said. “I watched a series of changes in places that were beautiful, and I just felt like it would be a good thing in life eventually to work on trying to save some of the world’s last natural places.”
Several decades later, Wallace has turned that passion for land into a career helping to manage protected wildlife areas.
Wallace was honored by the World Commission on Protected Areas with the Fred Packard Award for excellent building capacity on protected lands Oct. 4.
Building capacity, Wallace said, includes training people to manage the land, infrastructure, research and other obstacles involved in effectively managing protected areas.
“It’s a combination of managing natural resources and managing people,” Wallace said. “That means training the people who manage them or helping to build infrastructure or coming up with research that answers questions about obstacles to effective management,” Wallace said.
The nomination letter from WCPA to Wallace exemplifies his contributions to the community of protected areas.
“His university teaching and research, and students have stimulated considerable innovation and commitment to the full spectrum of protected areas world-wide,” Wallace’s nomination letter said.
Teaching on a collegiate level is Wallace’s fourth occupation, after working in land management agencies and teaching in public school.
He said he fully realized peoples impact on the environment when he traveled overseas in the military and the Peace Corps.
“I saw what was happening in other parts of the world, and that reinforced what I was thinking about what was happening in the United States,” Wallace said. “My vision of managing some places for natural processes and ecological help was expanded greatly from those travels.”
Wallace said that there are a variety of reasons why protecting building capacity on environmentally protected lands are important.
“Biodiversity value, intrinsic value, the ability to provide us with food and fiber; many protected are multiple use areas,” Wallace said.
His nomination letter praised his farm north of Fort Collins, which he restored from an overgrazed status.
“I’ve farmed for many years, even prior to becoming a university professor,” Wallace said. “It was my personal project to sort of practice what I preach. . But that certainly is not the crux of this award.”
Wallace said that though he may have the most seniority in CPMAT, he could not achieve this honor without his colleagues.
“This award is really a reflection of our work together,” Wallace said. “The quality of our work is really on the shoulders of all the professors and affiliates that work in our center.”
CPMAT works in a variety of fields, including outreach, construction and training for protected areas.
“The combination of the outreach, being the training and the technical assistance; the teaching, the developing of new courses and curricular; and research, focused on understanding impacts to partially protected areas and possible solutions for a variety of management issues,” Wallace said.
Their current projects include park ranger training in the Andes of South America and workshops in Mexico.
The projects they do are not only abroad, but also in local government natural area programs that try “to create some natural places near cities where kids who normally would not see anything natural may have the opportunity to do that.”
Wallace credited his father and grandfather with some of his love for the environment, but said that future generations may not be afforded that luxury.
“Certainly the time my father and grandfather spent outdoors with me was important, and I think it’s important for all kids to have that exposure if (they’re) going to have a balanced view of what the world should be,” Wallace said.
Assistant News Editor Johnny Hart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.