Audubon taps Mike Sutton for key Western conservation role

The National Audubon Society this week named one of California’s leading conservation advocates to lead its West Coast conservation efforts. Michael Sutton – who serves on California’s Fish and Game Commission and heads the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Center for the Future of the Oceans – has been appointed vice president of the Pacific Flyway. He will also serve as executive director of Audubon California.

Sutton, who lives in Carmel Valley, will be charged with helping implement a new strategic direction for Audubon that seeks to perform large-scale conservation along the four major migratory paths, or flyways.

“Birds and other wildlife have been central to my entire career in conservation, dating back to my very first job banding birds and teaching ornithology at a summer camp,” said Sutton. “I’m anxious to get to work weaving together all of Audubon’s work along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to Baja and beyond.”

Sutton was appointed to the Fish and Game Commission in 2007. He founded the Center for the Future of the Oceans at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in 2004. Previously, he served as a program officer in the Conservation & Science Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from 1999 to 2004. Prior to that, Sutton served as vice president at the World Wildlife Fund from 1990 to 1999, where he led WWF’s global ocean conservation programs. He is also an author and lecturer in conservation law on the summer faculty at the Vermont Law School.

According to Audubon President David Yarnold, it was Sutton’s diversity of skills and experience that made him the perfect choice for this important new role at Audubon.

 “Mike’s passion for conservation is exceeded only by his track record,” said Yarnold. “He’s a proven leader in California and across the West, and Audubon is fortunate to have him join our leadership team. Mike understands landowners, sportsmen, birders and people who just love the outdoors. He has deep knowledge of California’s issues and the breadth to be able to work across the Pacific Flyway.”

The Pacific Flyway has been the site of several major victories for Audubon in recent years. In California, Audubon recently secured the protection of more than 240,000 acres of the Tejon Ranch, and is developing groundbreaking programs to work with private landowners to maximize habitat on working lands. In Alaska, Audubon working to protect key habitat areas from development and energy production. Throughout the Pacific Flyway, Audubon chapters are doing incredible work locally to protect key species and spread the word about birds to local communities.

“These are exciting times for Audubon, and for conservation,” said Sutton. “All along the Pacific Flyway, the stars are aligning that should allow us to make significant, tangible progress on vital conservation issues at a regional scale.”