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Villers honored for conservation work
Mark Villers has won an award from the United States Department of the Interior for his work on stream restoration projects in the region. World Photo by Lou Sennick

Local contractor Mark Villers has received the Oregon Governor’s Take Pride Appreciation Award for his years of service in conservation and restoration of streams throughout Coos County.

Villers says he remembers how great the stream fishing was in this area when he was a boy and became involved in restoration because of his hope to restore the streams to their previous glory. He said fishing started suffering when the streams were cleared of fallen trees and brush that created natural dams and protections for the fish.

“I had a vision of how good the fishing would be if they put the wood back in,” Villers said. “This is really about restoring fishing.”

Villers, the owner of Blue Ridge Timber Cutting Inc. of Coos Bay, has completed more than 97 restoration projects over the last 10 years in streams within a 150 mile radius of the Bay Area.

“I already have half a dozen projects booked for next summer,” Villers said. “By then I’ll top 100.”

He was especially recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for his work on Elk Creek, a tributary of the Coquille River. In this project Villers and his crew placed large trees into the creek to create additional habitat for fish, in hopes of restoring the habitats in one of the most important spawning tributaries for salmon and steelhead in the East Fork Coquille Watershed.

“Villers has consistently gone above and beyond the requirements for his contracts,” said Sue Richardson, Coos Bay Bureau of Land Management District Manager. “He has passion for his work and the resources he is helping to restore.”

“I want to see fish numbers go through the roof someday,” Villers said. “I think the number of fish can go up if we keep doing projects like the one on Elk Creek.”

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In addition to hiring local youth for his crews, providing them with meaningful work, training and a good wage, Villers is known for his personal commitment to conservation and restoration. He also donates his time to serve on the Coos Bay District Resource Advisory Committee and as a speaker in leadership training for the Bureau of Land Management.

Villers was nominated by Coos Bay District restoration Coordinator Glenn Harkleroad and received his award from the Governor’s office on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

“I’m honored they thought to nominate me,” Villers said.

The Governor’s Take Pride Appreciation Award honors a group or individual for their outstanding work on public lands. It is part of the National Take Pride in America campaign that aims to promote volunteerism, install public appreciation and responsibility for public lands and honor those who have provided outstanding work on public lands.