Tim McGruder will be honored Thursday evening as the Eastside Audubon Society’s 2013 Environmentalist of the Year for his many years of activism on issues ranging from local land use to global population growth.
A residential remodeling contractor, McGruder has been directly responsible for many of the most visible improvements enjoyed by the public on the Audubon BirdLoop interpretive trail at Marymoor Park in Redmond.
Through a combination of hands-on work and advocacy during nearly 30 years, he has exemplified the Audubon chapter’s commitment to enhancing bird and wildlife habitat and taking action in support of conservation.
While he was co-chair of Eastside Audubon’s Conservation Committee from 1998 to 2005, McGruder campaigned for strengthening the state’s Growth Management Act to protect agricultural lands in the Sammamish River Valley.
As his concerns broadened to include population growth impacts on natural resources, McGruder traveled to Washington, D.C., in 2000 to advocate for legislation that would help fund international family planning programs.
He went to Washington again in 2005 on Eastside Audubon’s behalf to urge stronger restrictions on ocean-going vessels that were bringing invasive non-native flora and fauna in their ballast waters to west coast harbors. His visit raised awareness of a formidable new threat that will grow worse with a changing climate and warmer marine waters.
Among McGruder’s recent activist efforts have been the campaigns to mitigate the impact of power boats on wildlife in Juanita Bay in Kirkland and to save historic trees at the old Group Health site in Redmond. In the latter case, when development prevailed, he organized community work days to salvage native plants and reinstall them at Marymoor Park.
Since 2006, when Eastside Audubon entered into a partnership with King County Parks to improve habitat for birds at Marymoor, McGruder has overseen and carried out many projects on the Audubon BirdLoop. He orchestrated construction of the raised boardwalk that allows visitor access along Sammamish Slough in the wet season, and he continues to participate in the county’s long-range planning for the park’s natural areas.
Also at Marymoor, he has built swallow boxes, a trailside bench, kiosks, and interpretive signs to enhance the experience of park visitors. He continues to build out signage, plan for public facilities, and co-lead habitat restoration work parties staffed on the first Saturday of every month by Eastside Audubon volunteers and on community service days by people from companies such as Amazon, Comcast, and Microsoft.