Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario Nature awards conservation heroes

The Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), The County of Northumberland, the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance along with eight individuals have been recognized for leadership in conservation and the protection of nature.

(Campbellcroft, Ontario, June 13, 2011) – This weekend, Ontario Nature, a leading conservation organization, recognized the exceptional contributions of eight individuals and several organizations to natural habitat protection through Conservation Awards.

Naturalists and leading conservation organizations from across Ontario came together to celebrate Ontario Nature’s 80th anniversary and Annual General Meeting.  The idyllic setting on the Oak Ridges Moraine, with its exceptional natural diversity, set the stage for the much anticipated ceremony.  The deserving recipients are:

Ontario Nature Achievement Award – Jim Johnston

Awarded to an Ontario Nature member who has made an outstanding contribution to the activities of Ontario Nature.

Jim Johnston is a tireless contributor to environmental and conservation issues in Ontario, with a particular emphasis on his enlightened approach to dealing with nuisance bears in and around Elliot Lake.  Jim spearheaded the development of the Elliot Lake Bear Smart Project, which subsequently became the Ministry of Natural Resource’s Bear Wise program. He has given hundreds of presentations on co-existing with bears and other wildlife. Jim has also initiated projects studying at-risk wood turtles as well as bird banding efforts, starting a wild rice re-introduction program, and building bird boxes for northern saw-whet owls, wood ducks and bluebirds.

W.W.H. Gunn Conservation Award –Jane and Fred Schneider

Awarded to individuals who demonstrate outstanding personal service and a strong commitment to nature conservation over a number of years with exceptional results.

For more than three decades, Jane and Fred Schneider have welcomed visitors to their 500-acre rural property outside Waterloo, which contains swamps, woodlands and fields. Numerous trails run through their property allowing visitors to enjoy magnificent, unspoiled natural areas. The Schneiders have planted hundreds of trees around their home, enhanced woodland and prairie habitat, and created a butterfly garden. The couple are long-time members of the Kitchener Waterloo Field Naturalists and Fred is a director of the Waterloo Stewardship Network. They have led campaigns to protect the Waterloo moraine against urban sprawl and are widely respected for their knowledge of natural areas and their ability to find solutions.

The Steve Hounsell Greenway Award – Iris McGee, Renee Sandelowsky, Allan Elgar

Awarded to an individual, group or organization who add a vital linking piece to the Greenway, preserve a core area, or build public support for preserving a natural heritage system, or lay the groundwork for a substantial legislative advance for greenway planning, or fight to restore a watershed, or any other action that contributes to the Greenway vision.

Iris McGee, Renee Sandelowsky, and Allan Elgar founded the Oakvillegreen Conservation Association more than 10 years ago in response to a proposal to urbanize 7,600 acres of agricultural land in North Oakville. Since then, the group has spent countless hours raising awareness and fighting for a preservation plan that included a Natural Heritage System, successfully arguing that conservation could be achieved through zoning at no cost to the taxpayer. Their victory was the inspiration for the subsequent Halton Natural Heritage System that now protects 50,000 acres including lands within the Greenbelt.

Richards Education Award – Fraser Gibson

Awarded to an individual who has succeeded in helping people understand the natural world and become enthusiastic supporters of conservation and environmental protection.

Fraser Gibson has fostered environmental values and actions in children and adults throughout his career teaching outdoor and environmental education and has continued to promote the importance of the natural world in his retirement. A long-standing member of the Kitchener Waterloo Field Naturalists and a regional director for Ontario Nature, Fraser was a founding member of the “What on Earth Are We Doing” committee dedicated to teaching staff and students about environmental issues in a natural setting. He has led countless nature walks, participated in dozens of butterfly and bird counts, maintains bee hives and monitors marshlands.

W.E. Saunders Natural History Award – Christine Hanrahan

Awarded to an individual who has achieved a significant goal related to an aspect of natural history or natural science research, raising public awareness of natural history, demonstrating local leadership, saving a natural area, or generating conservation funds or publications.

Christine Hanrahan has held a long-time committment to building awareness about the importance of protecting and learning from the natural world. Whether writing articles, posting nature photos, advocating for conservation, leading nature outings or going on bird and butterfly counts, Christine is able to awaken a sense of wonder in others. Christine belongs to the Ottawa Field Naturalist’s Club and sits on the club’s birds and conservation committees as well as the Fletcher’s Wildlife Garden Committee. She also represents the club on the South March Highlands committee and the Larose Forest Advisory Committee. 

J. R. Dymond Public Service Award – Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP)

Awarded to an individual or group who shows distinguished public service that resulted in exceptional environmental achievement.

The Fatal Light Awareness Program was established in 1993 by Michael Mesure and a team of volunteers dedicated to safeguarding migratory songbirds in the urban environment. As the first organization of its kind in the world, FLAP has mobilized the NGO, business, educational, and government sectors to find progressive ways to protect birds from the hazards of the built environment. Leading these initiatives is Michael Mesure, FLAP’s executive director, whose lifelong love of birds has made him a tireless advocate for change in bird protection policy.

The Lee Symmes Municipal Award – The County of Northumberland

Awarded to a town, city or municipality or region that exhibits community leadership and exceptional achievement in planning or implementing programs that protect and regenerate the natural environment within a community.

Northumberland County initiated a comprehensive, public, Forest Management Plan process to best conserve a 5,400-acre forest on the Oak Ridges Moraine. By bringing together a 21 stakeholder advisory committee, the County brought peace to the forest under the spirit and intent of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Act and Plan. Throughout the duration of the process, the County and its Council maintained its stance of putting sound ecological management first and foremost in all decision-making, thereby raising the standard in traditional county forest management.

Ontario Nature Corporate Award – Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance

Awarded to a corporation that demonstrates outstanding leadership or sound action in the environmental field. Corporations may protect the natural environment either directly through policies or indirectly through undertakings that stimulate environmental actions.

The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance has undertaken numerous energy conservation initiatives over the past decade, including a lighting retrofit throughout its facilities, lowering energy use during times of peak demand, and partnering with other organizations in progressive energy conservation and efficiency programs.

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For more information on the recipients, to arrange an interview, or for photos of the presentations, please contact:

John Hassell
Communications Coordinator, Ontario Nature
(416) 444-8419, ext. 269
johnh@ontarionature.org

Ontario Nature protects wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature is a charitable organization representing more than 30,000 members and supporters and 140 member groups across Ontario (charitable registration # 10737 8952 RR0001). For more information, visit www.ontarionature.org.

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