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ENVIRONMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
Initiated in 1975, this award recognizes people who, directly or indirectly, have made outstanding efforts defending critical regional resources, or advancing their better stewardship.

Steve Birdlebough, Chair, ExCom, Sierra Club Sonoma Group
Nominated by: Jay Halcomb and Jana Selph, Sierra Club Sonoma Group, Redwood Chapter

As Chair of the Sierra Club Sonoma Group for the past two years, Steve has worked tirelessly to head off destructive intrusions into the wild and scenic parts of Sonoma County and to extend and protect our urban growth boundaries and community separators. He has been both a strong public voice and a behind-the-scenes strategist in numerous campaigns, including opposing the Dutra asphalt plant and Sutter Hospital. He has worked to improve recycling and to keep the Central Landfill in public ownership; to locate new projects where they can best contribute to the community; to promote walkable and sustainable communities, to assure that Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) trains soon start running; and to remedy the effects of unlawful plantings on public and private lands. Steve has built effective collaborations with the Climate Protection Campaign and the Accountable Development Coalition. He is a member of the Sonoma County Transportation and Land use Coalition and of the SMART District Citizens Oversight Committee, and he serves as Advocacy Chair of Friends of SMART. His membership in these groups has helped to assure access for all parts of the community. From his previous work with the Sacramento and Shasta County Air Pollution Control Districts he has brought an acquaintance with the nuts and bolts of air quality maintenance. From his legal background and 25-year experience with the California Legislature he has brought perspective on the law-making process and in lobbying on behalf of critters and wild places, including establishing the Mt. Shasta Wilderness Area.


Duane DeWitt, advocate for Roseland and Environmental Planning student at UC Berkeley
Nominated by: Marsha Vas Dupre, Phd.

Tenacious determination for decades by Duane De Witt to save some nature along Roseland Creek in the disadvantaged neighborhood of Roseland is beginning to benefit the community. After over 17 years of speaking out, organizing community neighbors around Burbank Avenue and doing annual creek cleanups, his efforts are succeeding. Roseland residents have finally been able to save at least 17 acres from development thanks to Duane’s efforts along with funding from the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. These first steps for a Roseland Creek Nature Preserve with a Greenway next to the creek now lead to more efforts to try and get as much as 40 more acres in a Roseland Open Space System. This will be based on citizen-driven, community-based, nature conservation in the Roseland areas previously scheduled for urbanization by Santa Rosa.


Craig M. Enyart, founding member, Maacama Watershed Alliance & Concerned Citizens of Knights Valley, maacamawatershed.org
Nominated by: Millie Bisset

Craig Enyart and the Maacama Watershed Alliance were successful in a five year battle to preserve Knights Valley. MWA filed a lawsuit after a 4-1 BOS vote for the precedent-setting Pelton House Winery despite EIR pleas from residents and environmental groups. On June 15, 2010 Superior Court Judge Boyd ordered billionaire Jess Jackson to perform a “full” EIR for his winery project near tributaries to the Russian River supporting steelhead trout and Coho salmon. Craig, a resident of Knights Valley and a founding member of MWA, was instrumental in organizing the administrative record and working with legal counsel, and through his efforts and fundraising this is only the third EIR in Sonoma’s entire winery history. PRMD as the lead agency is required to comply with CEQA. Judge Boyd’s court order states: "This court finds that substantial evidence supports a fair argument that the project may have a significant effect on the environment and thus requires an EIR, while Sonoma County improperly deferred both study and mitigation." The court granted the Petition for Writ of Mandate on every issue, persuasive on all points, including impacts on water, fish, potential contamination, and improper wastewater system. Craig's efforts along with MWA were nothing short of miraculous given odds of success, with Jackson’s endless funds and legal team. This is a remarkable victory for all of Sonoma!


John Herrick, former Conservation Chair, Milo Baker Chpt of the California Native Plant Society
Nominated by: Suzanne Doyle, Sierra Club Sonoma Group

John Herrick has worked tirelessly to protect the native plants and plant communities of Sonoma County for many years. He has encyclopedic hands-on knowledge of county ecosystems, which species are threatened, and where they are. John wades through piles of tedious policy documents and uses his knowledge to advocate for native plants with state and federal government and with local environmental groups and land trusts. He has been a key ‘behind the scenes’ person in collaborations to protect unique areas in the county like Cunningham Marsh and Pitkin Marsh. He has been an essential person in the long campaign to protect the endangered California Tiger Salamander – since CTS conservation also brings with it protection for vernal pool plant species.