Laura Cunningham

Western Watershed’s California Director, Laura grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended UC Berkeley where she studied zoology, paleontology, botany, and resource management. She traveled extensively around the Golden State on wildlife biology jobs working for California Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, and universities surveying for and studying such species as the Owens pupfish, Lahontan and Paiute cutthroat trout, rare salamanders, Red-legged frog, Foothill yellow-legged frog, Mountain yellow-legged frog, Sierra yellow-legged frog, Yosemite toad, Panamint alligator lizard, Mojave fringed-toed lizard, Desert tortoise, Least Bell’s vireo, Tule elk, and other species.

She is an artist-naturalist who wrote and illustrated the ecological history book A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California (Heyday: 2010), emphasizing native California grasslands, oak woodlands, shrublands, and forests once filled with salmon, antelope, elk, wolves, and grizzlies thriving for thousands of years before European Contact. She has a particular interest in native grasses.

Working to conserve the natural desert ecosystems of California and Nevada, she co-founded the small group Basin and Range Watch in 2008, and she remains on the board. She presently lives in the Death Valley National Park region and enjoys hiking and exploring wild lands.

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