Don Bonker was in the spotlight again this weekend, even though he retired from Congress some years ago.
For his 14 years of service representing Southwest Washington and his focus on environmental issues, Bonker was honored at the unveiling of the Don Bonker Cedar Grove Trail on Lady Island in Willapa Bay.
U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, who now represents Bonker's district, was among those who organized the celebratory events and worked to get the trail named for the former Congressman. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Friends of the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge were also instrumental in putting together the event.
Bonker was responsible for saving the 274-acre ancient Cedar Grove from logging back in 1986. "It is the environmental accomplishments that I cherish the most," said Bonker. "These are the most enduring, the most real."
Referring to his Cedar Grove accomplishment, Bonker said, "This is one that is special. This is a rare moment."
More than 100 family members and supporters took a barge trip to Baldwin Slough then hiked to the Cedar Grove where a plaque of the newly named trail was unveiled. After the dedication ceremony, the group joined more friends and supporters at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters for a party.
"Don Bonker deserves this honor. He accomplished a tremendous amount for the people of Southwest Washington during his distinguished career," said Baird, whose district includes Pacific County. "Naming the Cedar Grove Trail for Bonker is an excellent way to honor his service to Southwest Washington and to our nation. This amazing natural treasure would not exist today if it was not for all of his hard work and dedication."
Bonker's other environmental accomplishments include helping to establish the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge and the Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Wildlife Refuge, adding Protection Island to the National Wildlife Refuge System, preserving the Point of Arches in the Olympia National Park, adding 250,000 acres to the 1984 Washington Wilderness Act, and banning the export of Western Red Cedar.
He represented Washington's third congressional district from 1975 to 1989. During his time in the House, he was a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade. He also served on the President's Export Council and headed former House Speaker Tip O'Neill's Trade Task Force.
Bonker serves as president and CEO of the International Management and Development Institute, on the board of the Foundation for U.S.-Russia Business Cooperation, and as executive vice president of APCO Worldwide, a global communications consultancy.