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Florida Residents Receive National Sierra Club Award

SAN FRANCISCO - Sept. 15, 2001 - Three Florida residents were among those receiving national awards from the Sierra Club this year.

Palm Beach attorney Lesley Blackner and New Smyrna Beach residents Rita Alexander and Shirley Reynolds received a Special Achievement Award for their efforts to secure protection for the sea turtles that nest on Volusia County's Atlantic Ocean shore.

In June 1995, Reynolds and Alexander filed a federal Endangered Species Lawsuit against Volusia County for failing to protect three species of endangered turtles that nest on County beaches. The lawsuit sought to ban beach driving as well as bright oceanfront lights that deter nesting and disorient hatchlings. Blackner served as the attorney for the case, which was supported by the Volusia-Flagler Group and the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The County eventually succeeded in having the "turtle suit" officially dismissed, but only after it was forced to make significant changes, including establishing conservation and no-driving zones on the beach and enacting a beachfront lighting ordinance. Blackner was awarded legal fees for more than 1,000 hours of legal work on the suit. The suit prompted County Commissioners in St. Johns County to adopt a similar beachfront lighting ordinance.

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. For more information on the Volusia-Flagler Group of the Sierra Club, write them at P.O. Box 929, Daytona Beach FL 32115-0929.

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