RALEIGH — Linda Pearsall, a life-long conservationist and architect of partnerships benefitting wildlife, on Aug. 28 received the Thomas L. Quay Wildlife Diversity Award, one of the most prestigious awards given by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The Commission presents the award annually to individuals who make outstanding contributions to wildlife diversity in North Carolina and who are considered leaders in wildlife resources conservation.
Pearsall, of Raleigh, accepted the award, along with a framed print, from Commission Executive Director Gordon Myers at the agency’s business meeting in Raleigh.
“Linda has made countless contributions to wildlife and their habitats, many of which directly benefit imperiled species,” Myers said during the presentation. “Also under her leadership, numerous partnerships have been developed with other agencies, NGOs and landowners. Each of these partnerships has accrued long-lasting conservation benefits to North Carolina.”
Pearsall retired earlier this year after more than two decades as director of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The NCNHP identifies ecologically significant natural areas in the state and facilitates their protection through registry and dedication, including conservation agreements between NCNHP and landowners.
As NCNHP director, Pearsall oversaw a professional staff of 25 and advised politically appointed boards to help shape conservation legislation, policy and practice.
She supervised field staff who conducted Natural Areas Inventories in 93 of 100 counties in North Carolina, leading to the conservation of countless populations of threatened and endangered flora and fauna. During her tenure at NCNHP, Pearsall worked with scientists across the state to create electronic records of the state’s rare species through development of a computer database, GIS maps and online N.C. Conservation Planning Tool. These records are shared with hundreds of conservation agencies, local and state governments, regional planning organizations and non-profit organizations throughout the state to help them make decisions about conservation and other land-use planning efforts.
Pearsall is well known throughout conservation circles for forging strong partnerships with state, federal and private organizations, including the Wildlife Resources Commission, to share resources and conduct projects that have conserved thousands of acres in biologically significant areas like Chimney Rock, Grandfather Mountain, South Mountains Game Land and many other game lands, state parks and natural areas, through Natural Heritage Trust Fund grants.
“When I was informed about receiving the Quay Award, I was astonished to hear my name was being added to the list of winners,” Pearsall said. “It is an amazing honor. … and I hope the award continues to foster good relationships and partnerships in conservation across North Carolina.”
Pearsall is the ninth person to receive the honor. The first recipient was Dr. Quay himself, a former professor of zoology at N.C. State University and self-described “full-time volunteer and unpaid environmental activist.” Quay, who passed away in April 2012, served on a variety of conservation boards while lobbying state agencies for various environmental causes.