SCCC Awards 2021
Environmentalist of the Year 2021
Don McEnhill, the Executive Director of Russian Riverkeeper since 2001, is passionately committed to caring for the health of the Russian River. Under Don’s watch (and close-up observation of the River by kayak), Russian Riverkeeper has grown to provide a wide range of River-related services, including environmental education, River cleanup, park development, and programs for dealing with fire damage, erosion and drought. Don speaks for the Russian River in this difficult time of climate change, advocating for water policies and regulations that will allow the River ecosystem to thrive while balancing the needs of people. Don’s advocacy in this year of historic drought has been especially critical.
Lifetime Achievement Awards
Protection of the Sonoma County Coast
One of the treasures of Sonoma County, our natural and undeveloped Coast, is the hard-won result of over fifty years of activism and advocacy. This year the county is undertaking an update of the Local Coastal Plan, in which the future of coastal communities is again at stake, so it is timely to highlight the accomplishments of three very effective Coast protectors.
Cea Higgins has been a key figure for decades in cleaning up and protecting the Sonoma County Coast. She has worked with the Sonoma Coast Surfrider Foundation, organizing volunteers, cleaning up plastic and other trash, and educating about the coast. Cea’s contributions include marine mammal protection, ocean water quality monitoring, coastal trail promotion and coastal access for under-represented communities (as Executive Director for Coastwalk), working on the kelp forest ecosystem breakdown and climate adaptation, and advocating for the coast during the county’s Local Coastal Plan Update.
Michele Luna has been the Executive Director of Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods (first Stewards of Slavianka) since 1994, growing the organization into a powerful and respected voice for the environment of western Sonoma County. Beginning with protection of seals, whales and redwoods, the Stewards expanded, partnering with California State Parks and many other conservation and environmental stewardship organizations to bring people and the land together. The Stewards’ programs under Michele Luna have included restoration projects, fish passages, monitoring seals and sea lions in the Russian River estuary, volunteer trail work, training youth stewards, removing barriers to parks access, and fire ecology training.
Richard Retecki: As a planner for Sonoma County in the 1970’s, Richard worked on the county’s very first Local Coastal Plan. During his career, Richard Retecki has worked as a planner, grant writer and project manager for the county and the California Coastal Conservancy. He has completed an impressive list of restoration and parks projects that benefit the people of Sonoma County. As a volunteer he has served on the board of Coastwalk and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation, helping to raise money for parks and for coastal access. Currently he is using his long experience with the coast as a founding member of the Save Sonoma Coast Group with the purpose of reviewing and recommending improvements to the Sonoma County Draft Local Coastal Plan.