Creation of SER


A Chronology Of Events Leading To The Formation Of The Society For Ecological Restoration

Compiled: by John Stanley, John Rieger and Bill Jordan
Last Updated: May 22, 2013

The following is a chronology of events leading up to the formation of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management (S.E.R.M.) which subsequently became the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). This chronology is not meant to be a history of the development of the field of ecological restoration, which is in itself an evolution of theory and practice that  began many years prior to the formation of SERM/SER. During this evolutionary period there were many other individuals involved in the development of the field of ecological restoration, besides those who are mentioned here. There are restorationists who definitely contributed in at least an indirect way to the formation of the Society. Additionally, there were also a number of unmentioned organizations, symposia and conferences that helped to formulate the profession, if not the creation of SER.

Persons interested in the history of the field of ecological restoration should read the Island Press book titled “Making Nature Whole: A History of Ecological Restoration” by William R. Jordan III and George M. Lubick (Island Press 2011) which is part of the Island Press/SER book series “The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration.”

Activities Surrounding to the Formation of SER, SER’s First Boards Of Directors, And SER’s First Conference

April 1987 - John P. Rieger organizes and conducts the Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium in San Diego, California.

  • Symposium was organized by Southern California Chapter of The Wildlife Society, the San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and the Riparian Re-vegetation Work Study Group.
  • Keynote speaker William R. Jordan III presented a paper titled “Some Reflections on Ecological Restoration”.
  • Future SERM/SER Board members who presented papers at the Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium in San Diego were: William R. Jordan III, Deborah Hillyard, and John Rieger.
  • The following additional future SERM/SER Board members were present at the Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium in San Diego: Bill Halvorson, Steve Johnson, John Rodman, Anne Sands, and John Stanley.
  • Proceeding published by SERM in April 1988 (see below).

April 1987 – The Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium in April of 1987 served as the catalyst for the creation of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management (S.E.R.M.)

  • During the Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium, John Rieger and Bill Jordan “sat down with John Stanley and several other California restorationists and sketched a plan for the new organization” which became the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management. (Source: Jordan and Lubick 2011).

July 1987 – John Rieger forms a steering committee to facilitate the creation of the new organization.   Steering Committee members are Steve Johnson (The Nature Conservancy), Bill Jordan (University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum), John Rieger (California Department of Transportation) (Chairman), Anne Sands (Riparian Systems), and John Stanley (Harvey & Stanley Associates, Inc.).

Late Summer 1987 – Steering committee members sign a founding document circulated by Chairman John Rieger formalizing the founding of SERM.

October 1987 – John Rieger sends first draft of Articles of Incorporation and bylaws for the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management to “the Steering Committee of the Soon to be created National Restoration Group”.

  • Memo is undated, however the copy is stamped “Received Oct 19 1987”.
  • Memo states that “a significant portion of these documents were “borrowed” from the newly created Society for Conservation Biology”.
  • Persons named as the initial directors are William R. Jordan, John P. Rieger, Ann Sands, Steve Johnson and John Stanley
  • Article IV of the draft Articles of Incorporation states as follows: “Founding. The Society for Ecological Restoration was founded in San Diego, California, U.S.A., on October, 1987. An existing unincorporated association of the same name is being incorporated by the filing of these articles.”

November 1987 – Conference call meeting between Steering Committee members (Jordan, Rieger and Stanley)

  • Conference call was conducted on 11/5/87 during a break in the Riparian Re-vegetation Study Group meeting at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Sacramento, California.
  • The three (Jordan, Rieger and Stanley) voted to 1) “form a national organization with the goal of promoting the scientific investigation and execution of restoration”; and 2) “call the organization the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management”.
  • Tentatively decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization in Wisconsin.
  • Tentatively selected January 1989 date for the first SERM conference to be held in the San Francisco Bay area.

November 1987 – Steering Committee adopts Restoration and Management Notes (R&MN) as the official journal of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management.

Winter 1987Restoration & Management Notes (5:2) prints John P. Rieger’s guest editorial, “A National Restoration Association?”

  • In his editorial John Rieger addresses the questions – “Is the time ripe for formation of a national organization of environmental restorationists?” He concludes that interest is high given the attendance at the Second Native Plant Revegetation Symposium in April of 1987, and that there is no national professional or scientific organization concerned with restoration and habitat creation. Source: Restoration & Management Notes, Vol. 5, No. 2, Winter 1987
  • He also addresses the benefits that can be realized from a national organization. Some of the benefits that he discusses include: conducting “annual meetings” which “can provide forums for current projects”; co-sponsoring “local or regional meetings”; creating “an organized listing” of “relevant literature dealing with restoration projects and research”; providing a “roster of members indicating area of expertise”; sponsoring “short courses and workshops”; developing “informational literature for government agencies”; and “possibly influence legislation related to restoration”. Source: Restoration & Management Notes, Vol. 5, No. 2, Winter 1987
  • At the end of this editorial there is an announcement in a box entitled “Organization of Restoration Progresses – First Annual Meeting Announced”. The announcement stated that “the first annual meeting of the Society has tentatively been scheduled to be held in the San Francisco Bay area in January 1989”.

January 1988 – John Rieger sends memo to “The Steering Committee of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management” along with second draft of the “Bylaws for the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management”.

  • Undated memo date stamped “Received Jan 6 1988” with hand written date of 1/14/88 by John Stanley. It addresses the timeline for “Count Down to January” (1989) Conference, and includes a list of questions with responses regarding the formation of SERM. Key decisions were:
      • Yes, we want to form a national organization with the goal of promoting the scientific investigation and execution of restoration;
      • After discussing four alternatives the final name selected is “Society for Ecological Restoration and Management”;
      • We intend to have a meeting in January of 1989;
      • Membership dues set at $25.00 for the first year including a subscription to Restoration and Management Notes;

January 1988 – Charter Membership Drive. John Rieger prints first SERM brochure entitled “Invitation to Become a Charter Member of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management.”

  • Brochure states that “ Anyone involved, or interested, in any of the scientific, social, political or economic issues related to restoration of native plant and animal communities is invited to join as a Charter Member during 1988”.
  • The Goals and Objectives of the organization listed in the brochure were:
      • “To promote research into all areas (scientific, technical, social, political, economic and philosophical) related to the restoration, creation and subsequent management of biotic communities.”
      • “To facilitate communication and the exchange of restoration technologies between restorationists thereby contributing to the refinement of successful restoration and sound management techniques.”
      • “To promote wider awareness of the feasibility and value of restoration efforts.”
      • “To solicit and promote funding for research in ecological restoration.”
      • “To recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions towards the restoration and management of ecological communities.”
      • “To contribute to the discussion of public policy in matters having to do with ecological restoration and management.”
  • Address on membership application was “Society for Ecological Restoration and Management, University of Wisconsin – Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, Wisconsin 53711.

January 1988 - John Rieger, John Stanley and Bill Jordan begin recruiting Charter Members of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management at the “Restoring the Earth” Conference at the University of California, Berkeley,

January 1988 – SERM office in Madison receives first mailed-in membership

  • First mailed-in membership was from Bitterroot Native Growers, Inc. from Montana. (Envelope was saved and possibly framed)

Spring 1988 – Steering Committee names members of 1988 SERM Pro-tem Board to serve until election at 1st SERM conference in January of 1989.

  • SERM Steering Committee selected the members of the 1988 SERM Pro-tem Board of Directors
  • Members of the 1988 SERM Pro-tem Board of Directors were:
      • Edie Allen (San Diego State University)
      • Anthony Bradshaw (University of Liverpool)
      • John Cairns (Virginia Polytechnic Institute)
      • Andre Clewell (A.F. Clewell, Inc.)
      • Don Falk (Center for Plant Conservation – The Arnold Arboretum)
      • Mike Gilpin (University of California – La Jolla)
      • Cat Hawkins (Olympic National Park)
      • Daniel Janzen (University of Pennsylvania)
      • Steve Johnson (The Nature Conservancy – California Field Office)
      • William Jordan III (University of Wisconsin Arboretum)
      • Dave Mahler (Environmental Survey Consulting)
      • Steve Packard (The Nature Conservancy of Illinois)
      • William T. Plass (American Society for Surface Mining and Reclamation
      • John Rieger (California Department of Transportation)
      • Anne Sands (Riparian Systems)
      • John Stanley (Harvey and Stanley Associates, Inc.)
  • Source: SERM Quarterly Membership Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1 Spring 1988 and Stanley’s list of “Members of the Pro tem Board of Directors, 1988.

Spring 1988 – SERM publishes first Quarterly Membership Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1 Spring 1988

  • Contents Include:
      • First – Welcome Aboard
      • Currently Underway or Being Planned are:
        • R&MN Subscriptions and SERM Memberships
        • First Annual Meeting
        • Communication and Setting Up the Office
        • The Organization
        • Membership Development
        • Announcement and call for papers for First Annual Meeting at the Claremont Hotel in Oakland California, January 16-20, 1989
      • Contains list of Members of the Pro tem Board of Directors, 1988 on page. Names, affiliation, address, phone number

April 1988 – John Rieger and Bradford Williams publish the Proceedings of the Second Native Plant Re-vegetation Symposium that took place April 15-18, 1987 in San Diego, California.

  • Proceedings were published by the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management and made available to SERM members at a special rate. Source: SERM first Quarterly Membership Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1 Spring 1988

Spring-Summer 1988 – Bill Jordan establishes SERM office at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison Wisconsin.

Summer 1988 – William R. Jordan III publishes an editorial in Restoration & Management Notes titled “A New Society, a ‘Second Precaution,’ and Restoration as a Strategy for Selling Ecology.” R&MN 6:1 (2p.)

  • Editorial talks about the creation of SERM and the affiliation between R&MN and SERM
  • At end of second page is an Announcement and Call for Papers for the First Annual Meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management, January 16-20, 1989 in Oakland, California

July 1988 – SERM membership reaches 456 members

  • All of these individuals should be considered “Charter Members” along with those who joined in the second half of 1988.

August 1988 – S.E.R.M. News, Quarterly Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 2, August 1988

September 1988 – Bill Jordan files “Nonstock Articles of Incorporation” for the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management, Inc. with the State of Wisconsin Department Financial Institutions on September 23, 1988.  The official date of incorporation is September 28, 1988.

  • Incorporation papers were drawn up by Jim Connors, a Madison attorney, and a friend of Bill Jordan, on a pro-bono basis
  • William Jordan III is the “initial registered agent”.
  • The initial Board of Directors named in Article 9 of the articles of incorporation are:
      • William Jordan III (c/o University of Wisconsin-Madison, Arboretum, Madison, WI)
      • John Rieger (c/o California Department of Transportation, San Diego, California)
      • Anne Sands (c/o Riparian Systems, Mill Valley, California)
      • John Stanley (c/o Harvey & Stanley Associates, Alviso, California)

November 1988 – S.E.R.M. News, Quarterly Newsletter, Vol. 1, Issue 3, November 1988

November 1988 – Bill Jordan sent a copy of the Draft Bylaws for SERM to the Pro tem Board members. Source: Memo dated 11/29/88 from Bill Jordan III to “Members of SERM Board pro tem” About “Draft Bylaws” with attached draft bylaws

January 1989 – SERM membership reaches 740 as of 1/13/89. Source: Name and address list titled “S.E.R.M. Membership Listing” dated 1/13/89.

  • (Note: This 1/13/89 membership list taken together with the Spring 1988 membership list and the 7/14/88 membership list is the best record we have of the “Charter Members” of SERM who joined in 1988.

January 1989 – 1st SERM conference held at the Claremont Resort in Oakland, California

  • There were 300 conference participants and 92 abstracts presented.
  • Conference Patrons were: Environmental Concern, Tree of Life Nursery.
  • Conference Sponsors were: Biosystems Analysis, The Habitat Restoration Group/John Stanley & Associates, Michael Brandman Associates, Pacific Open-Space, Inc., Philip Williams & Associates, and Ecological Restoration and Management, Inc.
  • Full-day field trips conducted in conjunction with the 1st SERM conference in Oakland, California. (1/20/89)
      • Field Trip # 1 – Urban Creeks Restoration: East Bay Area
      • Field Trip # 2 – Coastal Salt Marsh Restoration: So. San Francisco Bay
      • Field Trip # 3 – Rare Butterfly Habitat Restoration: San Bruno Mtn.
      • Field Trip # 4 – Grassland Rehabilitation and Restoration: East Bay Area
      • Field Trip # 5 – Riparian Habitat Restoration/Flood Control Project Mitigation: Santa Clara Valley

January 1989 – SERM names Ted Sperry its first Honorary SERM member

January 1989 – S.E.R.M. Business Meeting and election of 1989 Board of Directors held during the 1st SERM conference at the Claremont Resort in Oakland, California.

  • Members of the 1989 SERM Board elected at the Business Meeting were:
      • Edie Allen – San Diego State University (Secretary ),
      • Tom Bonnicksen – Texas A&M University (Rocky Mountains and Great Plains), Anthony Bradshaw – University of Liverpool (International Region),
      • Andre Clewell – A.F. Clewell, Inc. (Southeast U.S.)
      • Don Falk – Center for Plant Conservation (Northeast U.S.)
      • Ed Garbisch – Environmental Concern, Inc. (Vice-president)
      • Daniel Janzen – University of Pennsylvania (Representative at-large)
      • William Jordan III – University of Wisconsin Arboretum (Representative at-large)
      • Mary Kentula – Environmental Research Laboratories (Representative at-large)
      • Dave Mahler – Environmental Survey Consulting (Treasurer),
      • Jean Matthews – editor Park Science, Oregon State University (Pacific Northwest, U.S.)
      • Steve Packard –The Nature Conservancy of Illinois (Midwest U.S.)
      • John Rieger – California Department of Transportation (President)
      • John Stanley – Harvey and Stanley Associates, Inc. (Western U.S.).   
  • Source: S.E.R.M. News, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Spring 1989

February 1989 – SERM membership reaches 1,000 on February 26, 1989

  • SERM registers its 1,000th member of 2/26/89. Source: S.E.R.M. News, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Spring 1989

Spring 1989 – S.E.R.M. News, Quarterly Newsletter, Vol. 2, Issue 1, Spring 1989 (Conference Issue)

May 1989 – SERM President John Rieger requests an official vote of the Board on a motion to change the name of the society from “The Society for Ecological Restoration and Management” to “The Society for Ecological Restoration”.

June 1989 – Bill Jordan files an amendment with the State of Wisconsin to change the name of the organization to S.E.R.

  • Amendment filed with the State of Wisconsin on June 23, 1989 changing the name of the organization to S.E.R.
  • Copy of the Amendment if attached to copy of the Articles of Incorporation

Summer 1989Restoration & Management Notes becomes the official journal of SERM

  • Note on inside of cover of R&MN reads as follows: Restoration & Management Notes is now serving the Society for Ecological Restoration and Management, an international organization of restorationists and managers with its principal office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, WI 53711. Source: Restoration & Management Notes, Vol. 7, No. 1, Summer 1989

Summer 1989 – Bill Jordan files for IRS non-profit status

Summer 1989 – Don Falk, member of Board of Directors, represents SER at the Second International Botanic Gardens Conservation Congress on Reunion Island in Indian Ocean and was convened by the Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat (BGCS).

September 1989 – Bill Jordan represents SER and the UW-Madison Arboretum at a meeting in the Soviet Union sponsored by the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

  • National Research Council funds Bill Jordan to attend a three-day bi-national workshop on Biodiversity held in the Moscow on September 25-27, 1989. Purpose of the meeting was to discuss joint efforts in behalf of the conservation of biodiversity.

September 1989 – SERM membership is 1,238 members

October 1989 – SER is officially recognized by the IRS as a 501.c.3 (not-for-profit) organization retroactive to 9/28/88.

1990 – Society for Ecological Restoration publishes the Proceedings of the 1st Annual Conference held in Oakland, California in January 1989.

  • Glenn Hughes and Tom Bonnicksen (1989 SERM Board Member) edited the conference proceedings.