1/29/2009 - Wilson to receive 'Conservationist of the Year' award
By Bridget Brantley
Dr. Thomas Wilson, head of the biology department at Judson College, was selected by the Cahaba River Society to receive the 2008 "Cahaba Conservationist of the Year" award. The award will be presented on January 29 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
Wilson, an Arkansas native, has spent most of his life in Alabama. A U.S. military veteran, he and his wife, Doris, moved to Marion, Ala. in May of 1972 to work at Judson.
Today, his love for biology and the community is evident.
Wilson began his work on conservation and preservation of the Cahaba River in 1976 when he was elected vice-president of conservation for the "Alabama Conservancy," now known as the "Alabama Environmental Council." In 1978 he helped found the first environmental effort to study the Cahaba. Doug Phillips, now host of the PBS program "Discovering Alabama," also helped in this project.
Wilson helped found the Judson College chapter of the Cahaba River Society in the mid '80s. The Judson CRS chapter created the first website for the Cahaba River Society some 15 years ago.
Wilson and retired Petty County probate judge Don Cook launched an effort to acquire Perry Lakes Park for the local community in 1999, and lobbied the Nature Conservancy to purchase Barton's Beach which now gives access to the river from Perry Lakes Park.
More recently Wilson was involved in the grant proposal to the federal government's "Resources, Conservation and Development" committee that was used to complete the Radford Ramp project for small boat access to the river.
"Perry County has the best part of the Cahaba River," Wilson said. "The Cahaba River has the greatest biodiversity of any river in North America! The river has 135 species of fish and is a major ecotourism attraction for our community."
The Perry Lakes Park website is www.perrylakes.org.