WASHINGTON—On Sept. 17, 2014, five champions of the modern wilderness movement will be recognized for their contributions to protecting the finest U.S. public lands at a gala dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The Honorable Sally Jewell, Counselor to the President John Podesta, and Outdoor Afro CEO Rue Mapp will deliver remarks. Historian and author Douglas Brinkley will serve as master of ceremonies.
The dinner is the culmination of a week of events in Washington commemorating the enactment of the Wilderness Act and the people who have worked to protect America’s wild public lands.
Senator Harry Reid will receive the Hubert H. Humphrey Wilderness Leadership Award, which honors a member of the U.S. Senate who demonstrates exemplary leadership for wilderness preservation and whose commitment to the betterment of his or her constituency extends to future generations.
Sen. Reid has protected Nevada’s wildest places for over four decades, authoring five laws protecting more than 3.5 million acres as wilderness and, as Senate majority leader, helping pass the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009.
Senator Martin Heinrich will be presented with the John P. Saylor Wilderness Leadership Award, which honors a member of Congress who, like the eponymous Republican Wilderness Act champion, has a conservation record and commitment to wilderness protection distinguished by consistent leadership.
Sen. Heinrich is a longtime wilderness advocate who co-sponsored three wilderness bills now pending in Congress and championed the efforts to have President Barack Obama create the largest national monuments in the United States—the Rio Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.
Tim Mahoney will receive the Howard C. Zahniser Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the writer, strategist, and visionary whose persistence and patience built the coalition that successfully advocated for the Wilderness Act. The award honors an individual whose achievements in protecting wilderness most closely parallel Zahniser’s own.
Mahoney’s 40-year career began at The Wilderness Society and continued at the Sierra Club and as a consultant to conservation groups. Since 2010, he has served as a director of public lands projects at The Pew Charitable Trusts. His advocacy for wilderness bills has contributed to the protection of tens of millions of acres through laws signed by the last six presidents.
Vicky Hoover will be recognized with the A Wilderness-Forever Future Volunteer Leadership Award, which honors a volunteer advocate who is realizing Wilderness Act author Howard C. Zahniser’s vision of a “wilderness-forever future.”
Hoover has led Sierra Club national and international outings for more than 40 years and worked on the Sierra Club Alaska staff as editor and organizer. She continues to volunteer with the Alaska chapter on public lands issues and chairs the Sierra Club’s California/Nevada regional wilderness committee.
Princess Lucaj will be given the Sally A. Kabisch Spirit of the Wilderness Award. Named for the former Alaska Sierra Club organizer, the award is given to a volunteer who embodies Kabisch’s longtime commitment to wilderness preservation, passionate advocacy, and contributions that inspire others to act.
Lucaj has traveled around the world building support for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Alaska. She is a longtime defender of the Coastal Plain of the wildlife refuge and is the former director of the Gwich’in Steering Committee.
About the Wilderness Act
The Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Sept. 3, 1964, declared that it is “the policy of the Congress to secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” This historic bill established the National Wilderness Preservation System and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wild public land for the use and benefit of the American people. Today, the Wilderness Act protects more than 109 million acres in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
Virginia Cramer, Sierra Club, 804-225-9113, ext. 1002, firstname.lastname@example.org
Gwen Dobbs, Alaska Wilderness League, 202-266-0418, email@example.com
Kitty Thomas, The Wilderness Society, firstname.lastname@example.org