The Board of Larimer County Commissioners recently announced the 2012 Larimer County Environmental Stewardship Awards. These awards, which began in 1995, are given each year to honor the environmental efforts of county residents, businesses and organizations. To date 63 awards have been presented to programs, people and organizations. Today three more recipients are added for a total of 66 awards since the program began 18 years ago. Winning programs are innovative and proactive, and show exceptional effort and concern for stewardship of the environment of Larimer County.
The County’s volunteer-citizen Environmental Advisory Board reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the Commissioners who determine the recipients. In announcing the 2012 awards, the Board of Larimer County Commissioners explained their reasoning behind each of the three awards:
Redstone Canyon Mitigators, (for the second year in a row, a first!) for their demonstrated effectiveness at fire mitigation ahead of the High Park Fire. Last year the County recognized the Redstone Canyon Mitigators for their high level of community participation in working together on a project aimed at forest health and wildfire management. This year the County honors the success of that project, and the positive example it sets for other communities in wildfire hazard areas. In their letter of support, the Poudre Fire Authority noted that the fuels reduction work along Roan Mountain Road in Redstone Canyon provided a safer environment for burnout operations and structure protection, and was instrumental in enabling firefighting resources to keep the High Park Fire from spreading south of Roan Mountain Road. The Colorado State Forest Service also supported this nomination, and noted that the net result of the Mitigators’ work was a significant reduction in private and public property damage. This community-led project provides an example of the success that dedicated volunteers can achieve through common effort.
Fred Allen, for his long-term dedication and accomplishment involving two volunteer organizations that support National Forest Service lands. Those organizations are the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers, and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest & Pawnee National Grassland Foundation. Fred has served as member and chair of both groups, and led efforts to secure major partners and grants to continue their conservation work with the US Forest Service. In their letter of nomination, the Canyon Lakes Ranger District noted that Fred’s recruitment efforts this year have been instrumental in getting volunteers from local businesses and organizations for three major stabilization projects on trails directly impacted by the High Park Fire. Those efforts resulted in reopening several Poudre Canyon trails shortly after the fire. Through his service as a motivator and fundraiser, Fred Allen has demonstrated that individual efforts can be instrumental in the success of larger group efforts aimed at conservation and environmental stewardship.
The Environmental Learning Center, for providing important natural resource education catered to K-12 students. The Environmental Learning Center, or ELC, is part of Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources. Educational programs at the Center’s 80 acre preserve located on the Poudre River offer students firsthand experience with environmental topics ranging from wildlife, invertebrate biology, and water quality to watershed science. The program is an invaluable aid to teachers who rely on the Center as a field-based environmental education resource that can help make classroom lessons real and relevant. Because of its link to the world class research and programs at the Warner College of Natural Resources, the Environmental Learning Center introduces youth from our community to the highest quality science available. The ELC is a model for how a large organization can reach out and engage with community members in a positive and beneficial way.
A complete list of Larimer County’s Environmental Stewardship Awards, 1995-2011, is located on the Virtual Courthouse, Larimer County’s web site at: larimer.org/boards/eab/Awards/env_awards_winners.htm.