Ezra James Briggs
Starting in the 1950s, EZRA JAMES BRIGGS became known as the "lone voice" championing environmental causes throughout the State of Maine. He has been involved in campaigns to enact antipollution laws, to remove bounties on bears and bobcats, to protect the state's public reserved lands, and to plan heavy industrial siting, as well as to solve the budworm control and deer yard protection controversies. He is called a prime mover and organizer of a number of citizen and professional groups, subsequently serving as president or director for each. Among the organizations he has worked for are the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Maine State Biologists Association, the Maine Conservation Education Foundation, the Northeast Audubon Society, and the Caribou Conservation Commission. While serving in both the Maine House of Representatives and the Senate, Briggs dramatized to the public and legislature the need for environmental concern and protection of natural resources. Briggs has been a leader in other areas as well, including the fluoridation of public water supplies and the Equal Rights Amendment. His most recent victory came in December, 1981, when President Reagan signed into law an act deauthorizing certain public works projects, including the Dickey Dam on the St. John River, one of the last great wilderness rivers in the Northeast.
Arthur W. Cooper
For some 25 years, ARTHUR W. COOPER has been mixing his professional and volunteer efforts to preserve ecologically significant environments, and to increase public awareness of their importance. He was instrumental in the establishment of the North Carolina Nature Conservancy, considered one of the most effectively run state chapters in the country, and served as its vice chairman during its formative years. In his volunteer projects, Cooper uses the contacts and credibility he established during a five-year stint as the senior environmental officer of the state to aid his efforts. Among the many projects he has been involved with are the enactment of coastal management legislation, the battle to save the New River, the establishment of a North Carolina Heritage Program, and the drafting of the 1973 program that doubled the site of the North Carolina parks and preserves system. An ecologist by training and profession, Cooper has been effective in working with other groups and bringing about compromises of divergent interests. He is active in other organizations and currently serves as president of the Ecological Society of America, but it is his involvement with The Nature Conservancy that has earned Cooper the title of "super volunteer."
A retired professor of botany at Vanderbilt University, ELSIE QUARTERMAN is an academician who has coupled her professional life with extensive environmental voluntarism. She is a founder and an active member of the Tennessee Protection Planning Committee, an inter-agency forum that coordinates the efforts to preserve ecologically unique areas of the state, and is an active board member of the Tennessee Nature Conservancy, which honored her with the organization's Oak Leaf Award for her volunteer efforts. She was a prime mover of the project to save the Savage Gulf remnant virgin forest, and "discovered" Taylor Hollow--a valuable ecosystem characteristic of Tennessee's Highland Rim--which has been purchased for preservation. Quarterman also worked with the U.S. Corps of Engineers to identify and preserve the unique cedar glade communities on Percy Priest Reservoir Lands, and was instrumental in establishing the Radnor Lake Natural Area in the Nashville suburbs. Other projects she has been involved in include planning for Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the U.S. Forest Service's RARE I and RARE II review processes. She is an eloquent spokesperson for the environment, and her reputation as a premier botanist with an intimate knowledge of the plants and ecosystems of the mid-South has made her respected for her views throughout the state of Tennessee.
Richard J. Sherry
With no experience in dealing with municipal government and with little fund-raising experience, RICHARD J. SHERRY led the campaign to create a nature center in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, park. Repeatedly rebuffed by a lack of public funding, he formed Mohawk Nature Center Development, Inc., a group to raise the money from private donors needed to finance the center's construction and arranged for the City to staff and maintain the center. Although costs doubled over the planning and construction period, Sherry persisted in the fundraising campaign and some $500,000 was finally raised by mustering wide community support. The 800-acre nature center took seven years to complete and includes an interpretive building, walking trails, a marsh boardwalk, and teaching areas. In the midst of the Mohawk Nature Center campaign, Sherry also served as president of the Tulsa Audubon Society and embarked on another fundraising effort to save an important bald eagle roost along the Arkansas River, which was about to be sold and developed. Sherry led the Chapter in collecting more than $140,000 which was used to purchase 100 acres adjacent to a reservoir, thus preserving the bald eagle roost.
Robert A. Witzeman
For more than a decade, ROBERT A. WITZEMAN has worked to save the remaining segments of the lush streamside habitats of the arid Southwest. Almost single-handedly he has motivated citizen opposition to the $1 billion Orme Dam, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation project that would dispossess a tribe of Native Americans and destroy the nesting habitat of the world's only desert-nesting bald eagles, as well as flood the significant riparian ecosystem of the lush Verde and Salt Rivers. With an alternative plan under study, Witzeman has apparently stopped a major project that many people consider unnecessary. But the Orme is one of a series of dams that would cost over $2 billion, consume more electricity than the City of Phoenix, and destroy the habitats of a half-dozen birds of prey in order to supply cheap irrigation water for crops that are already surplus, according to environmentalists, and Witzeman continues his battle. He has called attention to the importance of the area to birds of prey, worked to prevent dredging along the Colorado River and channelization of the Agua Fria and New Rivers, as well as a number of other projects. Witzeman is, additionally, a leader of the Maricopa Audubon Society and several other organizations and was named "Environmental Citizen of the Year" in 1977 by the Rocky Mountain Center on Environment.
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