For Immediate Release: March 19, 2012
For More Information: Ken Kramer, 512-476-6962, 512-626-4204 (cell)
Sierra Club, Lone Star Chapter 2011 Award Winners
Announced March 2012
Orrin Bonney Award – Hal Suter
(Corpus Christi) The Chapter's highest award, given to the person
who over a number of years has exemplified the spirit and commitment of the Sierra Club by contributing their time and effort in one or several positions of authority for the Chapter, goes to Hal Suter of Corpus Christi.
Suter has been a leader in the Sierra Club for many years, serving in a number of capacities in the Club’s Coastal Bend Regional Group in Corpus Christi, and he has been heavily involved in leadership in countless local, regional and state conservation campaigns. For the past few years, he has been the Coastal Bend Group’s representative to the Lone Star Chapter Executive Committee, and he is currently serving with distinction in his third year as the Chair of the Lone Star Chapter.
Over the last year, Hal has served as a liaison to organized labor groups in Texas to build a coalition and movement toward the development of green jobs and renewable energy. His efforts to forge a strong relationship especially with the Texas AFL-CIO and the Communication Workers of America have been most productive.
Special Service Awards Special Service Awards are given to the person or persons, members or non-members, who either on one or more occasions have performed a special service to the Sierra Club or to environmental protection. For 2011 there are four winners of a Special Service Award.
Special Service Award – Doyle Beneby (San Antonio)
Doyle Beneby, the president and CEO of CPS Energy
in San Antonio, Texas, is receiving this honor
for his contribution to a cleaner Texas in 2011.
Since Beneby came to San Antonio and CPS Energy
in 2010, there has been a profound change in
the relationship between the utility and its
Beneby has been forthright
with the local environmental community, establishing
quarterly meetings where he updates the group
on CPS Energy initiatives and allows the group
to voice their concerns. In his short time at
CPS Energy, Beneby has made remarkable improvements
in service quality and environmental quality.
By taking action in San Antonio, he has provided
leadership to the nation and has done so with
a passion for protecting San Antonio’s
air quality and the health of the community.
Special Service Award – David Daniel (Winnsboro) In less than two years, David Daniel, a Wood County landowner from Winnsboro, has become one of the national faces of the movement to stop the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.
Daniel, whose land was condemned by TransCanada, started a group called STOP (Stop Tar Sand Oil Pipelin), of which there is a second group, in Nacogdoches. STOP was one of the first grassroots landowner groups in the county organized on the tar sands issue and now networks with other landowners to spread the message on the landowners’ plight with this foreign company.
Daniel has rallied landowners and citizens from Paris, Texas to Port Arthur against this pipeline. He has worked with Sierra Club and a host of other national groups – touring the country against TransCanada, developing a web site, debating TransCanada officials head to head in Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa, and joining the legions of people protesting in DC. He has ventured to Michigan with others to document the Kalamazoo River devastation from a tar sands oil spill, enlisted whistleblowers to tell their story, and risked much personally in his devotion to this cause.
Ken Kramer Living Waters Award – Dr. Robert Gulley (San Antonio) Dr. Robert Gulley is the Program Manager for the Edwards Aquifer Recovery Implementation Program EARIP). This Program, which is nearing completion after more than four years, is a collaborative, consensus based stakeholder process that designed to develop a plan to protect federally listed species affected by the management of the Edwards Aquifer.
In November of 2011, a 26-member stakeholder committee representing industry, environmental groups, farmers and cities agreed to a Habitat Conservation Plan to be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval. This agreement, which hopefully ends more than two decades of conflict over the Edwards Aquifer, would have never been reached without the tireless leadership of Dr. Robert Gulley, who facilitated the group activities. As Program Manager, Dr. Gulley on numerous occasions presented creative and balanced paths forward for the group, paths built on a strong foundation of knowledge of the Endangered Species Act, knowledge of the complex regional water issues of South-Central Texas, and an uncanny knack of understanding personalities and getting them to work together.
Ken Kramer Living Waters Award– Myron Hess (Austin) Myron Hess is the Texas Water Programs Manager and Counsel for the Gulf States Office of the National
Wildlife Federation. Hess is a true advocate for the environment and has worked closely with the Lone Star
Chapter for over a decade on the Texas Living Waters Project, surface water quality standards, and other
endeavors. He plays a large part in shaping the work to protect the water resources of Texas and is a leader
on many environmental issues in the state.
Hess was one of the main players in the negotiations that resulted
in the legislation creating a mechanism to develop environmental flow standards for Texas river basins and
coastal bays and estuaries. He has been a great advocate for the Colorado River and Matagorda Bay during
this process. Myron was also an active participant in the development of the consensus Edwards Aquifer
Recovery Implementation Plan, an active negotiator in reaching agreement on water rights applications
with both the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of Houston that secured environmental flow
protections, an attorney involved in successfully challenging the attempt by the Brazos River Authority to
dramatically expand their control over water in the basin, and a strong advocate for environmental interests in
the LCRA water management planning process.
Environmental Reporting Award – Mike Leggett (Austin)
The Environmental Reporting Award is given to a reporter
in any media who has produced a series or single report which
has provided exceptional coverage of an environmental issue.
The 2011 award goes to Mike Leggett, outdoor writer for the
Austin American-Statesman, for his series of articles and
videos “24 Things
Every Texan Should Do before He Dies” – published and distributed
in 24 monthly installments from January 2010 through December
Over a two-year period Mike Leggett regaled Texans
and others with the natural wonders and outdoor adventures
of Texas from the whooping cranes along the Texas Gulf Coast
to the beauty of Caddo Lake, the awe of Palo Duro Canyon,
the magnificence of Padre Island, and a whole lot of other
special places that make Texas the great state that it is.
In so doing he inspired countless Texans and visitors to
our state to follow in his footsteps and embrace the joy
of the Texas outdoors. Leggett’s series highlighted the beauty
of Texas and the reasons so many people work to protect the
natural heritage of the state. His overview of his two-year
set of adventures is captured in the following video clip
located on the Statesman website: http://www.statesman.com/news/video-mike-leggetts-24-things-every-texan-should-2054346.html?cxtype=rss_ece_frontpage.
Evelyn Edens River Protection Award – Adrian
Van Dellen (Woodville)
This award commemorates the work of the late Fort Worth area environmentalist Evelyn Edens, who
worked in cooperation with others to create Save the Brazos and the annual Texas Meeting on the Outdoors.
The award, to be conferred only when merited, honors the river conservation efforts of individuals and
groups. Adrian Van Dellen, who has long worked to protect the integrity of the Neches River by educating
the public about the beauty of the Neches with his photography, is this year’s winner.
Van Dellen is
considered an expert on the Neches, and he often paddles down this river along with other citizens so they
can see its beauty and in turn want to protect it. He has been instrumental with not only his photography to
build awareness of the Neches but by his videography to highlight what might be lost should the Keystone
XL pipeline be built and subsequently rupture in East Texas watersheds.
He produced a video of the
Kalamazoo River tar sands oil spill in Michigan with a whistleblower who worked on the spill, which was the
worst tar sands spill in U. S. history. His video and press work on the 30-mile spill and how it was “covered
up” attracted attention on YouTube, and it was credited by many as partially responsible for cleanup crews
returning to the Kalamazoo site within 48 hours of the release of his video.
Chapter Conservation Award – Vicki Baggett (Nacogdoches)
The Chapter Conservation Award is to be given to a Sierra
Club member who has worked diligently during the past year
on a particular issue or who has revitalized the conservation
efforts of the Chapter or Group. This year’s award goes to
Vicki Baggett from the Pineywoods Regional Group of the Sierra
Club in East Texas for her tireless work against the Keystone
XL pipeline and against tar sands crude. Baggett has worked
on this effort, re-energizing the Pineywoods Sierra Club
and actually forming another supporting group called Nacogdoches
STOP (Stop Tar Sands Oil Pipeline) to fight the pipeline
serving in dual leadership roles.
Baggett has organized forums,
rallies, protests, and meetings with officials, and she has
coordinated with landowners who would be affected by the
pipeline. She has conducted media events and executed much
press in the Nacogdoches/Lufkin area about the proposed pipeline.
Baggett is the Sierra Club’s best asset in
East Texas. She helped rejuvenate the Pineywoods Group with
Dian Averitt in 2000 and has served in many positions in
the group, including as the main communications and conservation
organizer for the past 5 years.
Chapter Service Award – Loyd Cortez
The Chapter Service Award is to be given to a Sierra Club member who has contributed significantly to the
administrative activities of the Chapter and/or a regional group, including through fundraising, membership,
publications, or other activities. Loyd Cortez is the winner of the 2011 Chapter Service Award. Cortez has
held many volunteer administrative positions with the Alamo Regional Group of the Sierra Club that are
essential to the success of the group.
Cortez, since retiring from the military and joining the Group in 2004, has served as membership chair (2005,
2006, 2007, and 2009), vice chair (2005-2007, 2010, and presently), and chair (2008, 2009). In addition to
setting the agendas, running the meetings, and keeping tabs on progress in all the committees, his job as chair
required writing a monthly “Word” article for the newsletter, of which he became the editor at the beginning
of this year. He has helped with the newsletter mailing party for several years. Cortez has also hosted monthly
fourth Friday social get-togethers for Sierra Club members at local restaurants since 2009. In addition he has
promoted and managed several Alamo Group list serves. He sends out action alerts, electronic newsletters,
and helped create the Group’s newer “info list” as a clearinghouse for local environmental news and events.
Loyd Cortez is truly a jack-of-all trades when it comes to supporting the work of the Alamo Regional Group
of the Sierra Club and its other volunteer leaders.
Art in Service to the Environment Award – Marjorie
The “Art in Service to the Environment” Award is to be given to an individual or group for an outstanding
work of art in any medium or discipline in service to the environment. The award is conferred only when
merited. This year the award goes to Austin artist Marjorie Moore for her exhibit “Drought/Fire/Ash.”
As indicated on her website - http://marjoriemoore.com/home.html – the exhibit involves landscape and artifacts of the catastrophic drought and ensuing forest wild fires in Bastrop County, Texas which began September 3, 2011 and were 90% contained by September 17, 2011.
The exhibit is Moore’s tribute to Bastrop
County, where she kept three horses on a local ranch (they
survived the fire), and which provided the natural artifacts
that she relied on for much of her previous artwork. Moore
says of the works in the exhibit: “The drawings depict both
the drought and the aftermath of the fires. The artifacts
are remnants of a personal loss. Disasters occur, memories
live on, reformation begins, and art can be healing.” Moore
intends to donate 100% of artist net sales of this work
to Bastrop Fire Relief Funds.