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Florida Journalists Win National Sierra Club Award

SAN FRANCISCO - Sept. 15, 2001 - Two reporters from the Seminole-Tribune, the newspaper of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, were among those receiving national awards from the Sierra Club this year.

Charles Flowers and Peter Gallagher received the club's Distinguished Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals in public service who have performed a particular action of singular importance. Flowers and Gallagher received the award for their reporting on the destruction of lakebeds and ancient canoes in Newnan's Lake in Florida. Flowers and Gallagher received the award at the Sierra Club's annual awards banquet in San Francisco.

In the summer of 2000, a drought in Florida caused water levels in Newnan's Lake to drop dramatically, revealing more than 100 ancient canoes as well as submerged logs from a 19th-century logging operation. The State of Florida initially granted a permit for the recovery of these submerged logs, but the logging operation began to destroy the fragile ecosystem around the lake as well as at least seven prehistoric canoes. Flowers and Gallagher wrote a series of articles on the destruction for the Seminole Tribune.

"Their investigative tenacity caused the State of Florida to stop this environmental plunder and led to designation of the lake on the National Register of Historic Places," said Edward Dobson, a member of the Sierra Club Board of Directors who nominated the two for an award. "Other media in the state were woefully slow to cover the discovery and its destruction."

Others nominating Flowers and Gallagher for the award included Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, who visited the lake in February 2001, and Dr. Benjamin Brumberg, Ombudsman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The Sierra Club, which was founded in 1892 by John Muir, is the country's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. It currently has more than 700,000 members.

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