Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary pioneer Dr. Stanley Harris passes away

Mad River Union

ARCATA – Dr. Stanley W. Harris, who helped create the world-famous Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary, died shortly after midnight Monday, Dec. 27 at Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata. He was 91 years old.

Harris retired from Humboldt State University in 1992 after 33 years of service. He specialized in management of waterfowl populations and the ecology of wetland habitats.

An accomplished writer and ornithologist, Harris is being fondly remembered by friends, family,  former students and fellow bird enthusiasts.

“My love of birding came directly from Dr. Harris. I could always count on him recording and letting us know Sunny Brae’s visitors. I’ll miss him when I’m in my garden wondering ‘what was that sound?’ ” said Connie Stewart, former director of the Northcoast Environmental Center.

Alex Stillman, who served on the Arcata City Council during the establishment of the Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary, recalled Harris’ delight over the bird refuge. “I remember how happy Stan was that he didn’t have to put a pond in his backyard because the city created so many ponds for him and the birds. He’d always say that with a twinkle in his eye,” she said.

At the marsh, a pond naturally developed in a low lying area, and Harris called it the “No Name Pond.” The City of Arcata later adopted the name and erected a sign with the pond’s name, as well as the professor’s. 

Even after retirement, Harris was active in the birding community and continued to assist HSU wildlife students.

Harris and his wife, Lenore, gave the university $107,000 in stock to endow two scholarships and augment an existing one. A press release on the HSU website includes details about the professor’s distinguished career.

“A native of Dodson, Montana, Dr. Harris earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Washington State College and his doctorate at the University of Minnesota in 1957, all in wildlife management,” stated the press release. 

 “Dr. Harris arrived at Humboldt State in 1959, joining the faculty as a waterfowl specialist after serving as the State of Minnesota’s director of the upland game research program,” stated the press release. “While at Humboldt State, he was twice department chair and a wildlife consultant with various companies. Among other honors, he received a Distinguished Teaching Award in 1969-70 and was named Conservationist of the Year in 1973 by the Humboldt chapter of the Wildlife Society. One of the five ponds of the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary was named after him in 2001, as one of the facility’s principals.”





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