Minnesota Conservation Leadership Awards Announced

The Trust for Public Land announced the winners of its 8th annual Conservation Leadership Awards, which recognize outstanding support for the conservation of Minnesota’s special places, from city parks to wilderness.

“These awards recognize leaders working hard to make and protect Minnesota parks and natural lands,” said Susan Schmidt, The Trust for Public Land’s Minnesota state director. “Minnesota’s parks and outdoor destinations are prized by residents and visitors alike, and these conservation leaders deserve to be recognized for their contributions.”

The awards have been in existence since 2009. The 2016 awards were announced at an event yesterday at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. The Trust for Public Land’s 2016 Conservation Leadership Award winners are (in alphabetical order):

Dave Anderson. Dave Anderson was recognized for decades of leadership in land conservation and public recreation, including the protection of Houlton Farm at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers and the establishment of the Houlton Conservation Area in Elk River, Minn. Dave has been a member of the Elk River Park and Recreation Commission for nearly 30 years, leading efforts to expand the city’s system of parks and natural areas from 50 acres to 1,300 acres, including 40 miles of paved trails.

Christine Brown. Christine Brown was recognized for being an incredible agency partner and staff leader dedicated to a healthy and accessible Chippewa National Forest. Christine is the Lands and Recreation Program Manager for the Chippewa National Forest and with her leadership and commitment to the forest she’s supported the protection of Stony Point on Leech Lake and Kremer Lake north of Grand Rapids.

Dick Gilyard. Richard Gilyard, FAIA was recognized for his steadfast commitment to the vision for Prospect North as an innovation district with a signature green space just east of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Dick is an architect, a board member of the University District Alliance, and as president of Prospect Park 2020, Inc., a not-for-profit community development corporation, and as a principal in the Prospect North Partnership, Dick has helped to advance the Prospect Park neighborhood-endorsed vision for the transformative redevelopment of the University Avenue Innovation District, a magnetic 21st century sustainable community unified by a signature public realm.

Noel Nix. Noel Nix was recognized for his steadfast dedication to all of Saint Paul’s neighborhoods including making the dreams of Frogtown Park and Farm and Griggs Park reality. Noel is a community development professional who has dedicated his career to advancing economic and social equity. He currently serves as the Assistant to Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, serves on the boards of Springboard for the Arts, Minnesota Homeownership Center, and advisory committees for the Victoria Theater Arts Initiative and the Rondo Commemorative Plaza and Garden, both in Saint Paul. Noel worked tirelessly to secure the final funding needed for the nature-based play area at the new park in Frogtown.

Senator Tom Saxhaug. Senator Tom Saxhaug was recognized for his tireless work protecting important Minnesota habitat for outdoor recreation and enjoyment throughout the state and his commitment to a sound, science-based Outdoor Heritage Council process which includes citizens. Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL) represents the current Senate District 5 which covers parts of Beltrami, Itasca, Cass, and Hubbard counties in North Central Minnesota and serves as a member of the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Tom has supported protection of important habitat ranging from the Headwaters of the Mississippi River in Hubbard County to important federal lands along Kremer Lake north of Grand Rapids.

And in a special additional ceremony The Trust for Public Land also for the first time presented its National Conservation Leadership Award to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, for her outstanding leadership in the reauthorization of America’s most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, in 2015. In particular Congresswoman McCollum was instrumental in the critical reauthorization of LWCF in December and in increasing LWCF’s 2016 appropriation by 50 percent and its competitive grant program for cities by 300 percent.

“We are so fortunate to have Congresswoman Betty McCollum representing Minnesota’s 4th district. Her resolute commitment to parks and nature, from cities to wilderness, is inspiring and reflects the deeply held values of Minnesotans,” said Schmidt.

Funding for the land protection projects referenced above was provided by several sources, including the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), and the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as recommend by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).