A California Department of Fish and Wildlife employee is being recognized nationally for her efforts to protect endangered species on a Dublin property.
Wildlife officer Nicole Kozicki this week was formally named the Pogue-Elms Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, the highest honor handed down by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. She has worked for CDFW in the Bay Area for 27 years and was also named its 2017 Wildlife Officer of the Year.
"We are very happy to see Wildlife Officer Kozicki receive the Pogue-Elms award for her extraordinary dedication to the protection of California's natural resources," CDFW assistant chief Steve Riske stated. "Her tireless investigations of poaching, pollution, and environmental crimes are an example to her fellow wildlife officers in California and to others throughout the country."
Among Kozicki's greatest accomplishments, CDFW officials said, is her leadership of an investigation into illegal development practices at Dublin Ranch that threatened the endangered California tiger salamander and red-legged frog.
That investigation uncovered numerous violations of state and federal law, including habitat destruction and falsification of permitting documents, according to CDFW officials. In December 2015 developer James Tong, who had sought to build residences on the property near Tassajara Creek, pleaded no contest to one count of submitting fraudulent documents. As part of the plea deal, he agreed to serve a year of probation, pay $650,000 in fines and preserve 107 acres of land in Contra Costa County.
"The benefits of (Kozicki's) investigations will be measured for generations to come," said David Bess, chief of CDFW's law enforcement division.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies represents 23 states and Canadian provinces. It created the award in honor of Idaho Department of Fish and Game wildlife officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms, who were killed during a poaching investigation in 1981.