Sierra Club Announces 2012 National Awards

SAN FRANCISCO –(ENEWSPF)–August 6, 2012.  Twenty-eight “Modern-Day Muirs” received national awards from the Sierra Club this year. The awards were presented at a ceremony held in San Francisco Aug. 4.

The Club’s top award, the John Muir Award, went to Don Parks, an environmental activist from Redmond, Wash., who has helped secure protection for numerous acres of wild lands in Washington State over the past 40 years. Among the areas Parks has helped protect is the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, one of America’s most visited wilderness areas. Parks is considered by many to be one of the premier experts on the Alpine Lakes region.

Another top award, the William E. Colby Award, went to Kenneth Langton of Tucson, Ariz. Langton  chairs the Club’s Grand Chapter and has served on three national governance committees for the Sierra Club. Langton also has been a strong supporter of Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood received the club’s Edgar Wayburn Award, which honors outstanding service to the environment by a person in government. Secretary LaHood has presided over  historic increases in fuel economy standards, which will reach 49.6 miles per gallon in 2025. He also has championed a transportation system that will reduce our dependence on oil by promoting alternatives such as biking, walking and livable communities.

Dale Schultz, a state senator from Wisconsin, received the Distinguished Achievement Award, which honors persons in public service for a particular action of singular importance to conservation. In 2012, Schultz was the lone Republican to vote against two pieces of anti-environmental legislation that came up in the state legislative session. One of the bills he voted against would have made sweeping changes to Wisconsin mining law, enabling a company called Gogebic Taconite (GTac) to create an open pit taconite mine in the headwaters of the Bad River Watershed in northern Wisconsin and dump its toxic mine wastes into wetlands and streams immediately adjacent to the open pit. The Bad River is an irreplaceable cultural and subsistence resource for the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who rely on it for fish, wild rice and other resources.  

Jeff Goodell, author of the 2006 book Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future,  received the David R. Brower Award, which recognizes outstanding environmental reporting. Goodell is now a contributing editor at Rolling Stone magazine, and his stories on energy and the environment also have been featured in The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine and Wired. Goodell also is the author of the 2011 book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate.

The club’s Ansel Adams Award, which honors excellence in conservation photography, went to Florian Schultz, a native of Germany who has spent the past 10 years photographing wilderness areas in North America. Schultz has published two books − Yellowstone to Yukon: Freedom to Roam, which documents the Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor, and To The Arctic, which is the official companion book to the IMAX film of the same name.

The Club’s William O. Douglas Award, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding use of the legal/judicial process to achieve environmental goals, went to Robert Wiygul of Ocean Springs, Miss. Wiygul has represented the Club on an array of legal fronts in the Gulf Coast area, from its response to the BP oil disaster, to litigation challenging regulations that would allow drilling off the coast of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Wiygul recently scored a major victory for the Sierra Club in the Mississippi Supreme Court, which reversed the Public Service Commission’s approval to construct the new Kemper County coal plant. 

The Club’s EarthCare Award, which honors an individual, organization, or agency that has made a unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation, went to Barbara Bramble, senior program advisor for the National Wildlife Federation’s International Affairs Department. Bramble has built international citizen campaigns to reform the environmental and social policies of international financial institutions such as the World Bank, and to advocate for international trade agreements that promote sustainable development. Bramble also has helped start several important international NGOs such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible forest management through a respected certification system for timber and other forest products. 

Others receiving 2012 Sierra Club national awards included the following:

Communication Award (honors the best use of communications by a Sierra Club group, chapter or other entity to further the Club’s mission): the West Virginia Chapter for its Marcellus Gas Campaign.

Environmental Alliance Award (recognizes individuals or groups that have forged partnerships with other non-Sierra Club entities): Edward McArdle of Melvindale, Mich., and the Club’s Vermont Chapter. McCardle has worked with a numerous coalitions to address a wide variety of environmental concerns in Michigan and the Vermont Chapter is being recognized for the partnerships it developed for its “Our Forests Our Future” campaign.

Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award (recognizes contributions to mountaineering): Tina Bowman of Long Beach, Calif. Bowman was the first person to complete all four mountaineering lists established by the various outings sections or committees of the Angeles Chapter. She also served as Chair of the Club’s Mountaineering Oversight Committee from 2005 to 2010.

Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund Award (recognizes a Sierra Club member under the age of 30): Joseph Manning of Chestnut Hill, Mass. Manning has been chair of the Sierra Student Coalition’s Executive Committee since 2011 and has represented the Club at three international climate change summits. The Sierra Student Coalition will receive $500 in recognition of this award.

Madelyn Pyeatt Award (recognizes work with youth): Nicole Veltre-Luton of Shadyside, Md. Veltre-Luton chairs the Club’s Baltimore Inner City Outings program, which will receive $500 in recognition of this award.

Oliver Kehrlein Award (for outstanding service to the Sierra Club’s outings program): Helena Coughlin of Sparks, Nev.  Coughlin has served as Outings Chair for the Club’s Great Basin Group since 2000.

One-Club Award (honors Sierra Club members who have used outings as a way to protect or improve public lands, instill an interest in conservation, increase membership in the Sierra Club, or increase awareness of the Sierra Club): Didi Toaspern of Chico, Calif. Toaspern has been Chair of the Club’s National Outings Service Subcommittee since 2001.

Raymond J. Sherwin International Award (honors extraordinary volunteer service toward international conservation): Richard Ball of Annandale, Va. Ball was the lead author on the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) first and second assessment reports dealing with climate change impacts on energy and industry.

Special Achievement Awards (for a single act of importance dedicated to conservation or the Sierra Club): The Alamo Group in San Antonio, the Chicago Group’s Air & Water Committee, and Kathy Little of Louisville, Ky. Little played a pivotal role in Louisville Gas & Electric’s decision to close its coal-fired Cane Run plant and convert it to natural gas and the Chicago Group’s Air & Water Committee pushed the City of Chicago to retire two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation. The Alamo Group has worked with San Antonio’s city-owned utility, CPS Energy, to transform it from a secretive, conventional energy giant to a national leader in clean energy and green jobs creation.

Special Service Awards (for strong and consistent commitment to conservation over an extended period of time): Linda Bremer of Jacksonville, Fla.; James Kotcon of Morgantown, W. Va.; and Elizabeth Little of Hillsboro, W. Va. Bremer has spent 25 years working to protect Florida’s rivers and springs; Kotcon has been at the forefront of citizen organizing and lobbying to get the West Virginia Legislature to pass adequate regulations to protect water and air quality from degradation by gas drilling and coal-fired power plants; and Little has spent more than 25 years working to protect the Monongahela National Forest.  

Susan E. Miller Award (honors administrative contributions to Sierra Club groups, chapters and regional entities): Bob Cates of Chatsworth Calif.; John Spahr of Jackson, Wyo.; and Wallace Taylor and Pam Mackey-Taylor of Marion, Ia. Cates has held a variety of administrative positions in the Club’s Angeles Chapter, including serving as Chapter historian. Spahr has given more than 20 of service to the Teton Group and the Wyoming Chapter as well as several of the Club’s regional committees and campaigns. The Taylors both have held a variety of leadership positions within the Club’s Iowa Chapter.

Walter Starr Award (Honors continuing service to the Sierra Club by a former member of the Board of Directors): Marilyn Wall of Cincinnati, Ohio. Since serving on the Board from 2006-2009, Wall has continued to contribute to the Club at both the local and national level, including serving as Chair of the Club’s Miami Group.

For more information on the Sierra Club awards program, visit