Wildlife officer recognized for Dublin Ranch investigation work

CDFW's Nicole Kozicki receives prestigious award

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.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 12, 2017 at 5:25 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Great work Nicole.
James Tong received a slap on the wrist for his environmental abuse.
Through your work, we know him, know where he is, know what he is doing.
That in it self will keep all of us watching his every move.
Thank you very much.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jill
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:53 am

Thank you for your hard work! We appreciate your commitment to protecting our natural resources and wildlife.

1 person likes this
Posted by Khim Yang
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 14, 2017 at 10:31 am

Thank you, Officer Kozicki, for taking care of the natural habitats of those who can't fend for themselves. I didn't even know that such a department exists to cross-check and investigate environmental violations, and am very glad that we have one. With all the rapid development in Dublin, I'm sure we cause enough damage to nature even without all the forfeit documents. Your important work will go a long way in helping to preserve what little nature we know for our future generations. Congratulations on the recognitions well-deserved, and please keep up the good work!

Like this comment
Posted by thanks
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Thanks for going after James Tong from Charter Properties and exposing his fraud. Like Michael above states, Tong got off way too easily and should really be banned from developing anywhere in California. He not only defrauded us and shirked his responsibilities of conservation but Tong has also been convicted on campaign finance abuses by the FPPC.

I have done work with some local developers but never heard anybody as brash as Tong who stated that these fines were just the cost of doing business and he does not worry about it.

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