EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors presented a medal of merit honoring Leon Lesicka, who passed away December 21, for his outstanding commitment and dedication in the preservation of wildlife at their regular meeting Tuesday, February 11.
Supervisor Ryan Kelley spoke of some of Lesicka’s efforts and contributions to the Imperial Valley.
“We would term Leon as a conservationist. Today that might be construed as an environmentalist — maybe he would like that, I don’t know — but he’s definitely a conservationist,” said Kelley.
Born in Holtville in 1932, Lesicka attended Brawley High School and graduated in 1950. He spent two years in the Army, stationed at Fort Ord, California. Upon returning to Imperial County, he and his brother Marvin formed Lesicka Brothers, a construction company that built homes and other buildings throughout Imperial County.
It was in the 1970s when Lesicka found himself building water holes to preserve wildlife throughout the desert with other members from Desert Wildlife Unlimited, which was founded by Lesicka and his wife LaVelle in 1979. Mule deer and big horn sheep would fall and become trapped in the concrete lined Coachella Canal when trying to get water. According to reports, more than 200 desert mule deer drowned in the canal trying to get water.
Lesicka also built wetlands habitats and other projects along the Salton Sea for doves and pheasants, and at the Alamo River and New River. The 10-acre wetlands creation along the Alamo River in Holtville is ongoing.
Among other local, state, and national awards, Lesicka was voted Californian of the Year by members of the Outdoor Writers Association of California in 2009; the Branding Iron Award in 2004; and the Bronze Buffalo award from the US Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.
“Unfortunately, he passed recently and it’s unfortunate that we’re recognizing him after his passing but his contribution to this Valley needs to be noted and that’s why we’re here today,” said Kelley.