Jerry Fletcher receives a congratulatory hug from Stacey Larsen while being awarded this year’s Sterardship Award for Environmental Excellence at the Fall Fair at Haig Brown House this past weekend. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Annual awards celebrate stewards of the environment

City of Campbell river recognizes those who go above and beyond in protecting nature

For the 17th year in a row, the City of Campbell River made River’s Day weekend an opportunity to recognize those within our community who work tirelessly to protect the natural environment we all love by celebrating them with their annual Stewardship Awards.

Stacey Larsen, community advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, presided over the ceremony, which was held during the annual Fall Festival at Haig-Brown House Sunday.

“I’m lucky to be able to work with various community groups, First Nations and non-profit organizations from Oyster River to Holberg to Phillips Arm, Philips River, Cortes to Zeballos,” Larsen says. “There are so many amazing programs that are happening to enhance salmon and improve salmon habitat and I’m happy to be a part of that.”

The first award, given to Tom Porsborg, was Air Quality and Alternative Transportation.

“Tom is an indispensable steward in the Beaver Lodge Forest Lands,” Larsen says. “He is extremely active in trail maintenance, clearing brush and debris and creating proper drainage for the trails. He as also made an additional commitment to community safety and accessibility to alternative transportation by becoming an on-call faller for effectively removing downed trees from the trails.”

He also puts on workshops and training opportunities to develop another generation of trail stewards, helping ensure a future generation of stewards will pick up where he leaves off in protecting and managing the region’s trail systems.

The Pesticide Free and Urban Agriculture award went to Sherrill Stone, one of the founders and managers of the Laughing Willow Community Garden.

“Despite some attempts to reduce her contributions slightly and take a well-deserved rest, she keeps getting pulled back,” Larsen says. “She is a passionate and knowledgeable gardener who shares that knowledge freely with the community.”

The award for “Water and Energy Conservation” was then given to Timberline science teacher Dan Klinka, who runs Timberline’s Stream to Sea program.

“When a student can go to school and have the opportunity to be part of a project and work with people like Greenways and existing streamkeepers, professionals in the field, volunteers and everyday people that are out there doing good things,” Larsen says, “those students are going to be the next generation of our stewards, so the role Dan is playing is critical, like so many of our educators.”

Rhonda Teramura was then named the recipient of the Waste Reduction award for her efforts in reducing waste at the annual Snowden Trail Challenge event.

When Teramura became disheartened at the piles of trash left behind at various public events, Larsen says, she made it her mission to make the 2017 Snowden Trail Challenge as waste-free as possible. Through her efforts – and collaboration with organizations like Comox Strathcona Waste Management – she created more than a 70 per cent diversion by volume over previous events.

In the Habitat Protection and Creation category, the 2018 award was given to Bob Tonkin, for his “long-history of Simms Creek stewardship. The selection committee couldn’t believe he didn’t already have a recognition plaque,” Larsen says, calling him “one of those constant forces working in the background.”

The Youth Special Recognition Award was given to Anna Buck, who took on responsibility of watering the young trees planted by Greenways Land Trust, “which is critical,” Larsen says, “because if that doesn’t happen, we often don’t get survival of trees and shrubs we plant and without that, it doesn’t make much sense to do it in the first place.”

The final award of the day was given to Jerry Fletcher for Environmental Excellence, whose contributions to environmental stewardship in our region are simply too extensive to list.

“This is a great honour,” Fletcher says. “It’s been a privilege to work with the many other dedicated volunteers who have a common goal to respect and protect our environment. It takes time and effort to help Campbell River remain the paradise we all know and love.”

The city also awarded its final Tom Easton Memorial Bursary.

“I can’t believe its the fifth and final year of the bursary,” Larsen says. “Tom was a very special person who cared deeply for the environment and put a lot of effort into our community.”

This year’s bursary was awarded to Timberline graduate Wesley Greentree, who started the Riverkids program for at-risk kids in Campbell River and contributes to many other volunteer initiatives within the community.