FWF Inducts Winter Garden Conservationist into Hall of Fame

Florida Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thomas at Oakland Nature Preserve

Local conservationist Jim Thomas of Winter Garden, who earned the title of Defender of Lake Apopka, has been inducted into the Florida Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Hall of Fame. At the FWF’s 80th Annual Conservation Awards Banquet, fourteen outstanding individuals or groups were recognized for their conservation achievements in Florida. Conservation Award Winners are chosen for their accomplishments on behalf of Florida’s fish, wildlife and native habitats by the Federation’s Board of Directors. Thomas was awarded a Bald Eagle Award Statuette as well. He is described as an “outstanding gentleman and conservationist” by those who know and work with him.

Jim Thomas, a fifth generation Floridian, has “rightly earned the title of Defender of Lake Apopka,” the group said. He grew up in the Tampa Bay area and as a child often traveled with his family to fish for bass in the once-thriving Lake Apopka. Jim later saw first-hand the devastation wrought by man on this ecosystem that had once provided habitat for countless species. His dedication to environmental protection has included not only Lake Apopka, but all of Central Florida as it disappears under development pressure.

As Founder and Past President of the Friends of Lake Apopka, an advocacy group dedicated to the restoration and long-term management of the fabled lake, Jim spearheaded policy actions and funding efforts to bring the lake back to its past glory. As past President of the Oakland Nature Preserve, he has shepherded the conservation and sound management of a 123-acre natural tract on the south shore of the lake. The Preserve provides environmental education to children and adults, particularly as to water protection and how local citizens can make a positive difference.




Jim is also Past President of the Orange Audubon Society and the Friends of the Wekiva River. Jim served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Wildlife Federation for eight years, and always provided environmental expertise and a passion to make Florida, and the world, a more sustainable place, according to FWF. He has undertaken numerous battles on behalf of the environment in our state, always promoting sound growth and ecological restoration.

With Central Florida as his backyard, he never has to worry about a lack of issues to confront. From water quality to urban sprawl and the suppression of invasive exotic species, Jim has continuously worked to preserve our natural resources and our quality of life.

“For his lifetime of service and achievements for conservation in Florida, the Florida Wildlife Federation is proud to induct Jim Thomas into its Conservation Hall of Fame,” the group announced. The full wording from the Conservation Awards Program is below.

Jim received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University and a Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina. In 1973, he founded Biosphere Consulting, Inc., in Winter Garden, an environmental consulting firm engaged in environmental assessment and ecological restoration programs for both upland and wetland projects. The firm runs a native nursery and has also become heavily involved in environmental management.




Here’s the official wording from the Conservation Awards Program:

HALL OF FAME – James M. ‘Jim’ Thomas

Jim Thomas, a fourth generation Floridian, has rightly earned the title of Defender of Lake Apopka. Having grown up bass fishing in the once thriving Central Florida lake, Jim saw first-hand the devastation wrought by man on this ecosystem that had once provided habitat for countless species. His dedication to environmental protection has included not only the Lake, but all of Central Florida as it disappears under development pressure.

Jim received a B.S. from Florida State University and Masters from the University of North Carolina. In 1973, he founded Biosphere Consulting, Inc., of Winter Garden, an environmental consulting firm engaged in environmental assessment and ecological restoration programs for both upland and wetland projects. The firm runs a native nursery and has also become heavily involved in environmental management.

As the Founder and President of the Friends of Lake Apopka, an advocacy group dedicated to the restoration and long-term management of the fabled lake, he has spearheaded policy actions and funding efforts to bring the lake back to its past glory. As past President, Board of Directors, Oakland Nature Preserve, he has shepherded the conservation and sound management of a 123-acre conservation tract on the south side of the lake. The Preserve provides environmental education to children and adults, particularly as to water protection and how local citizens can make a positive difference.

He is also Past President of the Orange Audubon Society and the Friends of the Wekiva River. Jim served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Wildlife Federation for many years, and always provided environmental expertise and a passion to make Florida, and the world, a more sustainable place. He has undertaken numerous battles on behalf of the environment in our state, always promoting sound growth and ecological restoration.

Working with the Disney Corporation, Jim has helped facilitate additional conservation measures even as this Florida icon grows. With Central Florida as his backyard, he never has to worry about a lack of issues to confront. From water quality to urban sprawl and the suppression of invasive exotic species, Jim has continuously worked to preserve our natural resources and our quality of life.

Jim lives by the axiom that “all life is precious – everything is connected.” We have all been most blessed to have Jim Thomas as an ally in the cause of keeping Florida a special place for ourselves and future Floridians. Moreover, his dedication to saving our natural wonders is matched by his friendliness and Southern hospitality.

For his lifetime of service to conservation in Florida, we are proud to name Jim Thomas as the 2017 inductee into the Federation’s Hall of Fame.

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