ABC Remembers David Pashley, Bird Conservation Pioneer

On October 31, 2018, ABC's friend and colleague David Pashley passed away following a long illness. A relentless advocate for bird conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere, David was also a master of inclusion with an incredible ability to forge partnerships. He leaves behind a tremendous conservation legacy.

David found his way to ABC 23 years ago, not long after the organization was founded. As Vice President for U.S. Conservation Partnerships, he helped greatly broaden the scope of bird conservation. For example, he worked tirelessly on the Joint Ventures (JVs), regional affiliations consisting of state and federal land-managing agencies and conservation-minded nonprofit organizations. Originally organized in the late 1980s to address declining waterfowl's habitat needs, today there are 22 JVs, which focus on bird species of concern in nearly all native habitats, both wetland and terrestrial. David had an impact on virtually all of the JVs but was instrumental in creating seven.

Six JVs are now supported by ABC staff. These JVs alone have positively impacted well over 6 million acres of habitat for priority bird species.

David Pashley. Photo by Dan Lebbin

David Pashley. Photo by Dan Lebbin/Shutterstock

David was also central to the development of two other important bird conservation initiatives: Partners in Flight (PIF) and the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). Today, PIF is the hemisphere's largest bird conservation alliance, and NABCI works to integrate efforts of government agencies, conservation groups, and others to achieve common objectives and advance issues such as bird monitoring and state and federal funding.

David served as PIF's first national coordinator and played a large role in the development of what we now call the Watch List, a quantitative approach for determining which U.S. bird species are most in need of conservation. Of course, many Watch List species migrate well south of the United States, and David also helped move the bird conservation community into full annual life cycle conservation. ABC's Migratory Birds Program is largely a result of David's tireless advocacy for Neotropical migrants and PIF, and uses the Watch List to guide our conservation efforts throughout the Western Hemisphere today, both inside and outside the Joint Venture framework.

Beyond his work, David was a beloved colleague, mentor, advisor, and friend. We at ABC are grateful for the time we spent with him, and will continue to advance his work to positively shape and inform conservation for years to come.