Lake Superior Binational Forum’s Annual Environmental Stewardship Awards Program
Recently chosen by a binational panel of judges, these award recipients have accomplished significant and successful actions that minimize negative impacts or restore the natural environment in the Lake Superior basin.
The awards program pays tribute to recipients that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship through outstanding leadership in one of five categories: Youth, Individual Adult, Business, Tribe, or Organization.
Award Winners from 2012
Adult Individual (a tie): Chauncey Moran, Michigan
Friends call the 62-year-old retiree “River Walker,” since he has actively served as part of a nationwide corps of volunteers who monitor rivers, lakes, and wetlands for pollution and its effects. For the last four years, Moran has regularly visited about 20 spots along the 51-mile-long Yellow Dog River in northern Marquette County, doggedly compiling statistical and photographic records of human and natural conditions using numerous scientific tests and observations. His primary goal is to develop benchmarks that could signal dangerous trends in the future.
Adult Individual (tie): Jon Saari, Michigan
Jon is a founding member of the nonprofit groups called the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and the Central Lake Superior Land Conservancy. He has been active in promoting education and fact-based information about potential impacts from nonferrous mines in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, and as a professor at Northern Michigan University he has raised awareness of environmental impacts for many NMU students. A prolific writer, he published numerous essays in the Marquette Mining Gazette about the need to protect the natural resources in the Lake Superior basin.
Youth: Drummond Area School District, Drummond, Wisconsin
The K-12 School district set a goal to become a “Green and Healthy School” several years ago to increase students’ environmental awareness and to help make the school a safe, clean, and “green” learning environment. Since the inception of the program, 8 new practices or initiatives have been held to reduce environmental impacts and lower costs including replaced inefficient heating units with high efficiency units; installed energy efficient light bulbs throughout the school; eliminated paper report cards, school menus, and other reports by posting the information on the school web site; enhanced the environmental curriculum to surpass state standards; planted a school vegetable garden on site; annual roadside trash pickup; and other projects in classrooms. The principal estimates an energy costs savings of about $5,000 a year, and more students have gotten involved in environmental actions due to the new curriculum.
Business: Burned Down Café, LaPoint, Wisconsin on Madeline Island
In 1992, Tom Nelson, the proprietor of Tom’s Burned Down Café, started a comprehensive reuse and recycling program at his tavern, which has aggressively kept at least 40-50,000 pounds of materials out of the island’s waste stream. Even more materials have been put back into use or deconstructed to be returned to the manufacturing process as raw materials to be recycled. Nelson actually purchased the island’s former landfill at which he has constructed a reuse site and a place to store scrap metals that are reused in an annual public event for artists called “Sculptors Wrestle Steel.”
Tribe: Fond du Lac Resource Management Division, of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Cloquet, Minnesota
Fond du Lac Resource Management Division manages, protects, and restores the natural and cultural resources of the Reservation, 20 miles inland from Lake Superior. The division works collaboratively with other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies to achieve shared goals: restoration and protection of habitat and wildlife populations in the Basin and especially within the St. Louis River Area of Concern.
These broad goals are grounded in sustainable management practices, in keeping with Anishinaabe values. The Division works with many partners on diverse issues and programs far beyond a conventional resource management department including sustainable forestry management practices; invasive species control; active modern management methods for wild rice beds; collaborative management of walleye and other game fish species; habitat restoration projects to reestablish lake sturgeon in the St. Louis River watershed; moose research; environmental review of mining projects; and renewable energy work.
Organization: WaterLegacy, Minnesota
A main goal of this group is to protect Minnesota’s state grain–wild rice (manoomin)–and prevent mining pollution. The health of manoomin acts as the proverbial “canary in the mine,” signaling imminent danger to the aquatic habitats where this indicator plant species grows naturally. WaterLegacy has been successfully forging a unique systems approach, developing and strengthening alliances and capacity of other environmental groups, with Indian tribal members and staff, with Minnesota Environmental Partnership (MEP), and with affected individuals in northeastern Minnesota.
The group is organizing citizens in northern Minnesota, tabling and providing educational forums, developing relationships with media, and sharing fact sheets and reports to alter one-sided communications systems that undermine economic and environmental sustainability. WaterLegacy works with state and federal agencies, providing professional advocacy, and opening rulemaking and permitting processes to public scrutiny and participation. This restores the role of regulators as fact-finders and enforcers, providing checks and balances to protect public resources.
Congratulations to our Canadian winners!
Adult Individual: Jane Oldale, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Jane spent many years working on special projects as a volunteer and a contractor with EcoSuperior Environmental Programs including developing and conducting workshops on solar and wind power; reducing and safely disposing of hazardous waste; eliminating the use of barrel burning; and water awareness. Not content to simply talk about sustainable choices, Jane lives in an off-the-grid house with solar and wind power—she even uses a solar-powered lawn mower. She is also the chairperson of her municipality’s Landfill Reform, is the driving force in a nonprofit solar cooperative called “Evergreen”, and publishes a monthly article about household disposal practices.
Business: Superior Outdoors Inc., Thunder Bay, Ontario
Superior Outdoors Inc. publishes two magazines–Superior Outdoors and The Walleye—and both magazines address the need for greater awareness of environmental issues. Since 2007, Superior Outdoors publishes articles about environmental organizations and celebrate the unique natural features of the Lake Superior basin. The Walleye publishes an article per month about environmental issues, and the April issue is dedicated to eco-friendly news. Superior Outdoors donates 1% of all revenue to the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, as a member of “1% for the Planet.”
Organization: Thunder Bay Field Naturalists, Thunder Bay, Ontario
This group has been addressing the need for protecting sensitive areas in Ontario since 1993, when they acquired their first Nature Reserve at mouth of the Nipigon River. Since then the programme has grown to include thirteen properties protecting more than 2,500 acres under continuous leadership by volunteer coordinator Susan Bryan. Many of these properties include unique ecological features, such as rare plant species or geological formations. The Field Naturalists are adept at recruiting and motivating numerous volunteers and donors to contribute to the nature reserves program, and are active in outreach to help raise funds to purchase land to protect, due to their high profile in Thunder Bay.
Each year the Forum chooses an artist from the Lake Superior basin to create a gift that reflects a unique aspect of living around the world’s largest lake. This year, the Forum is proud to give an award made by Gail Anderson, Grand Marais, Minnesota, that highlights the basin’s unusual geology. Gail’s handmade beach stone lamps consist of stones from the Minnesota North Shore assembled in one-of-a-kind formations. Gail worked for years in a commercial photography business, until she moved north to Grand Marais, where she expanded her love of creative adventures to making art out of Lake Superior’s stones.
The stone lamps serve as a symbol of the Lake Superior Binational Program’s Lakewide Management Plan, referred to as ‘the LaMP’. This plan details progressive best management practices and goals developed by binational agencies, governments, and tribes to help protect and restore the basin’s natural environment.