1981 Feinstone Environmental Awards
1981 Awards Recipients
JOSEPH FERNICOLA is credited with saving the last large "natural area" within New York City, the Clay Pit Pond on Staten Island. He carried out a six-year campaign to preserve this 245-acre tract of farmland, forest, bog (containing a rare orchid), clay pits, fossils, and the site of the first free Black community in New York State. His efforts resulted in the creation of the Clay Pit Pond State Park last year. Fernicola has been effective in forming volunteer coalitions that gain wide public support as well as support from governmental agencies and private environmental groups. As an outgrowth of his work with the Clay Pit Pond, Fernicola founded the Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Inc., an umbrella organization of citizen activists for more than a dozen important land preservation projects including Blue Heron Lake and other Staten Island wetlands, and a current effort to protect Shooters Island which contains an important heronry. Throughout his activities, Fernicola has maintained a strong emphasis on nature education--lecturing, personally leading hikes, participating in films and other audiovisual productions, enlisting press coverage, and the like. Young himself, Fernicola has, significantly, included youth groups in his campaign. The new Clay Pit Pond State Park, for example, will be the only state park devoted to "ecological education."
Ester Gulic, Kay Kerr, and Sylvia McLaughlin
Twenty years ago, ESTHER GULICK, KAY KERR, and SYLVIA McLAUGHLIN founded the Save San Francisco Bay Association to halt the filling of some 2,000 acres of open water at Berkeley. From that beginning, they have nurtured a large, grass roots organization of interested citizens that has made great strides in enhancing and protecting the waters and shoreline of San Francisco Bay. By 1965, they had conceived, planned, and ensured the passage of the McAteer-Petris Act which created the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, a strong, regional authority with the power to plan and regulate all development in the Bay and on its shoreline. Using films, educational materials, and other promotional activities, the women increased community awareness of the Bay's value and its jeopardy. It is said that the success of these efforts had a "ripple effect" in California, so that in the 1960's, a number of citizen-based environmental initiatives were undertaken. Although the San Francisco Bay Association has grown to 20,000 members, Kerr and Gulick still tend to its program and activities as volunteers. All three women have engaged in a variety of other environmental and community pursuits.
Nine years ago as a boy of 15, ANDY LIPKIS learned to love the endangered mountain forests of Southern California, which were being decimated by a quiet killer, air pollution. Despite his youth, he led a multifaceted campaign to plant smog-resistant seedlings in smog- and fire-damaged areas of Southern California, and to conduct environmental education programs aimed at involving individuals in solutions to smog and other environmental problems. In attempting to reforest smog-damaged areas, Lipkis faced a state bureaucracy which had excess seedlings but could not give them away, and the nursery was in the process of destroying 12,000 trees. Mobilizing youthful volunteers, Lipkis quickly received the attention of forestry officials who turned a San Bernadino Mountain site into a "demonstration area." The nursery's remaining 8,000 seedlings were saved and eventually planted at some 40 youth camps in the mountains as a result. Called "tree boy" by the press, Lipkis was able during his teens to attract mass citizen support for his reforestation projects. He eventually formed the California Conservation Project, which he now leads as a paid staff member. His activities as a youthful volunteer, for which the Feinstone Award is given, inspired the book Tree Boy, a Sierra Club book for children.
A retired newspaper editor, GLENN THOMPSON started the crusade some 20 years ago to save the Little Miami River from further despoliation, pollution, and abuse. First in the news and then in the offices of public officials, his conservation activities led to the formation of Little Miami, Inc., a large citizens' organization devoted to the preservation and restoration of a single valley. As founder and president of LMI, Thompson helped get the federal Wild and Scenic River legislation passed, and then to have the Little Miami River included in that designation--the only river located in an urban-industrial corridor to be so designated. He led the effort to pass the Ohio Scenic Law, the first in the nation. He created an acquisition fund to purchase 500 acres along the river; lobbied for state purchase of 1,700 acres; and paved the way for 52 miles of railroad right of way to be purchased along the river, partially with subsidy from $5,000,000 of federal money he helped get appropriated to buy abandoned railroads all across the country. He has lent his assistance to other projects such as stopping a highway from being routed through Glen Helen Preserve, and acquiring the Clifton Gorge area. But it is the pastoral Little Miami Valley that has consumed his volunteer efforts, and which he still serves as a leader and fund raiser.
A botanist and ecologist, HUBERT VOGELMANN has used his professional knowledge to promote the conservation and protection of natural areas, mountains, and wild lands all across Vermont. He was the key drafter of the precedent-setting Act 250 which provides for the regulation of major development in the state and mandates a phased adoption of legally enforceable land-use plans. The most critical environmental assessment is given to proposed development above 2,500 feet--the skyline--and no developments have been approved in this fragile ecological zone since the act was passed in 1970. As a volunteer, Vogelmann inventoried the natural areas in the state, and was the moving force in the creation of a natural area system of the University of Vermont, which now includes 10 of the finest bogs, forests, and marshes in the state. As chairman of the Vermont Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, he has provided the leadership to acquire 26 areas, including some 30,000 acres. The Colchester Bog Natural Area, Shelburne Pond, and Molly Bog Sanctuary are outstanding examples of his contributions. He is a founder of the Green Mountain Profile Committee, and has served as a consultant to many citizen environmental boards and legislative committees. Through his technical knowledge and persistence he is credited with significantly improving the physical environment of Vermont.
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