Due to extreme growth in the past 20 years, Sacramento has experienced a great loss of wildlife habitat. Jack Hiehle uses his knowledge from 36 years of employment with the California Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Fish and Game to educate the public about the need to protect and conserve these natural resources. He volunteers with many organizations in the Sacramento area including the American River Natural History Association, the Sacramento Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center (EYNC) and the Sierra Club.
Hiehle’s accomplishments as a volunteer are numerous; in his several thousand volunteer hours he has distinguished himself as a nature tour guide and a habitat restorer. His work as a naturalist includes guiding many adults and children, instilling feelings of respect for the natural world. Hiehle leads two walks each month in the American River Parkway for the Effie Yeaw Nature Center and regularly serves as a field trip guide for the Audubon Society, allowing Hiehle to educate up to 70 people each month.
As a habitat restorer, Hiehle has led other volunteers in removing non-native plant species from the American River Parkway since 1988. Hiehle leads a restoration crew, monthly, in the 77-acre nature study area associated with EYNC. These Habitat Improvement days, involving between 1 and 30 volunteers, have resulted in the removal of many thousands of non-native plant species, allowing more space for native plants to thrive and provide food and habitat to native animals.
Hiehle lends his expertise to the Docent Training Program at EYNC. He is responsible for teaching these volunteers about the plants and birds which live in the nature study area. In turn, the docents provide guided walks to more than 50,000 school children each year.
Additionally, Hiehle developed a nature walk for visually impaired people who were used at EYNC and the Sierra Club.
One senior described Hiehle as, “the ultimate walking field guide. Everything you ever could want to know about anything that lives is known by this man already. He has used his knowledge to voluntarily show people how to plant, seed, and observe.”