Morley Nelson Award Background

Morley Nelson was a pioneer in falconry and bird/power line research.  He also created numerous Disney films that helped people appreciate and learn about raptors.  His studies using his falconry eagles provided the foundation of much of our knowledge on raptor behavior towards power lines.  Using mock power poles, Morley tested structure designs, identified conductor separations needed to safely accommodate perching eagles and other birds, and proposed modifications to existing poles to prevent bird electrocutions.  This information is still used today.

In honor of Morley Nelson’s contributions to resolving bird/power line issues, APLIC developed the Morley Nelson Award to acknowledge those that have a like dedication towards identifying solutions to bird/power line problems.  Morley Nelson Award recipients demonstrate the following:

  • Dedication and stewardship towards natural resource management as it impacts the electric utility industry
  • Willingness to work openly with others to solve problems or facilitate a resolution to critical issues facing the electric utility industry
  • Using creative solutions to integrate the cooperation and work of others into solving complex natural resource problems faced by the electric utility industry
  • Integrity towards producing visible results regarding issues in natural resource management in the electric utility industry


Previous Recipients

Alan Ansel

  • Alan (Idaho Power Company, retired) was the first recipient of the APLIC Morley Nelson Award in 2006.  Alan coordinated early electrocution research by constructing mock power poles (through Idaho Power Company) and contracting with Morley Nelson to test eagle perching behavior on these structures and evaluate potential sources of electrocution risk.  Alan was an author of the 1996 edition of APLIC's Suggested Practices document.  Alan was acknowledged for his efforts as a pioneer in addressing avian/power line issues, both with APLIC and Idaho Power Company. 

Dick Thorsell

  • Dick (Edison Electric Institute, retired) was one of the founders of APLIC.  A long time friend of Morley Nelson, Dick worked with Morley to develop films for EEI.  Dick was instrumental in fostering political and industry support of avian/power line research and solutions and was an author of the first APLIC Suggested Practices document.  Dick received an APLIC Morley Nelson Award in 2009 in acknowledgement of his efforts as a pioneer in avian/power line conservation and dedication to developing and maintaining positive partnerships among all key players in the avian/power line issue.  Dick has had a life-long committment to birds.

Bob Turner

  •  Bob (National Audubon Society) was one of the founders of APLIC.  Bob worked with Morley Nelson and Dick Thorsell on early electrocution research and workshops.  Bob played a key role in bring aspects of avian biology into electrocution prevention methods.  Bob received an APLIC Morley Nelson Award in 2009 in acknowledgement of his role as a pioneer in avian/power line conservation, dedication to avian resources, and collaborative approach to addressing challenging issues.

Dan Pearson

  • Dan (Southern California Edison, retired) was a previous APLIC Chair and was integral to the development of the national Avian Protection Plan Guidelines.  Dave has been active in APLIC since the organization's start.  He developed the avian program for Southern California Edison and worked towards protecting endangered species in southern California.  He received an APLIC Morley Nelson Award in 2009 in acknowledgment of his dedication and leadership in developing creative and effective solutions to complex issues.

Jim Burruss

  • Jim (PacifiCorp) has dedicated most of his career to furthering our understanding of bird/power line impacts and educating both utilities and agencies of bird/power line issues, and received an APLIC Morley Nelson Award in 2010.  Jim has been an active participant in APLIC for many years, and has served as APLIC Chair.  He was instrumental in the creation of national Avian Protection Plan Guidelines, and worked diligently with others in APLIC and USFWS to publish the Guidelines.  Jim has played a vital role in the development and improvement of PacifiCorp's Bird Management Program.  He continues to work to encourage sound science and develop partnerships to address concerns regarding sage-grouse and power lines.

Bill Bolin (2013 recipient)

Dave Bouchard (2013 recipient)


Photo Gallery

Alan Ansel receiving first APLIC Morley Nelson Award, 2006.  Pictured from left to right: Brad Loveless (Westar Energy), Bill Bolin (Dominion Power), Alan Ansel and wife Connie, Rick Loughery (EEI), Jim Burruss (PacifiCorp), Jim Lindsay (Florida Power and Light), Dan Pearson (Southern California Edison).
APLIC Morley Nelson Award Recipients, 2009, at World Center for Birds of Prey, Boise, Idaho.  Pictured from left to right: Tyler Nelson, Alan Ansel (Idaho Power Company, retired) and Gary Breece (Georgia Power, retired) accepting for Dick Thorsell (Edison Electric Institute), Dan Pearson (Southern California Edison), Bob Turner (National Audubon Society).
Establishment of the Morley Nelson Award, Park City, Utah, 2003.  Pictured (left to right): Stephen Stuebner (author of "Cool North Wind: Morley Nelson's Life with Birds of Prey"), Jim Lindsay (Florida Power and Light), and Morley Nelson.
Signing of APP Guidelines, 2005.  Pictured left to right: top - Jim Burruss (PacifiCorp), John Holt (National Rural Electric Cooperative Association), Quin Shea (Edison Electric Institute), bottom - Jim Lindsay (Florida Power and Light), Paul Schmidt (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
APLIC members and USFWS staff at signing of APP Guidelines, Washington DC, 2005.


A Tribute to Dick Thorsell

April 11, 1927 – April 15, 2012

Photo courtesy of Echo Films, Boise,, ID

Dick Thorsell had a lifetime devotion to birds and was one of the founders of APLIC.  He brought electric utilities, government agencies, and environmental groups together to work in cooperation to mitigate bird deaths from power line collisions and electrocutions.  Contributions in memory of Dick can be made to the Peregrine Fund of Boise, Idaho: .  A book on Dick’s life, “400 Million Years of a Rolling Stone:  The Quest of a Conservationist in the 20th Century” is available from Bobby Ward, (,