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A photographer whose pictures of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge created a national controversy, a congressman who helped protect California’s Big Sur, and a woman who has climbed more than 4,200 peaks are among those who were honored recently with national awards from the Sierra Club.

Click image to see slide show of Banerjee's photographs
Subhankar Banerjee, a former Boeing engineer from Bellevue, Washington, left his job to spend 14 months taking pictures in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Banerjee was catapulted into the national spotlight this spring when an exhibition of his work at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History was mysteriously moved from the rotunda to the basement, setting off a flurry of articles in such prominent publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and others. Banerjee is the recipient of a Special Achievement Award for the publication of his book, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life. His photographs currently are on display at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and Benjamin Brumberg, former ombudsman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, were both recognized with Distinguished Service Awards, which honor persons in public service for strong and consistent commitment to conservation.

Steve Curwood of National Public Radio, received the David Brower Award for environmental journalism. Curwood hosts the weekly “Living on Earth” program, which is heard on more than 230 National Public Radio stations.

Rep. Sam Farr (D-California) received the Edgar Wayburn Award, which honors service to the environment by a person in government.

“At a time when there is an all out assault on clean air, clean water and wilderness, Representative Farr has shown extraordinary leadership in the environmental field, both locally and nationally,” said Sierra Club President Larry Fahn. Rep. Farr sponsored the Big Sur Wilderness and Conservation Act of 2002, which gave permanent protection to the last unprotected federal lands in the Big Sur backcountry.

Barbara Lilley of Simi Valley, California, was recognized for her mountaineering accomplishments, which include reaching more than 4,200 different summits from the Sierra Nevada to Africa. Lilley was one of the first women to climb Mount McKinley (now called Denali) in Alaska. She received the Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award.

The Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography went to Douglas Steakley of Carmel, California, for his photography of the Big Sur.

Isaac Hall of Maui received the William O. Douglas Award for contributions in the field of environmental law. Over the past 25 years, Hall has litigated more cases on behalf of the environment than any other attorney in Hawaii.

The Environmental Alliance Award, which includes a $1,000 prize from the Joseph Barbosa Earth Fund, was awarded to the Winyah Group of the Sierra Club’s South Carolina Chapter. The group is being recognized for its work with other organizations to protect the waters of the Waccamaw River and its watershed in northeast South Carolina and southeast North Carolina.

A new award for 2003, the Madelyn Pyeatt Award, went to Madelyn Pyeatt of Bellingham, Washington. This award recognizes the contributions of Club members working with youth. Pyeatt led more than 500 outings for underprivileged children in the San Francisco Bay Area before recently moving to Washington.

The Sierra Club’s highest honor, the John Muir Award, which honors a distinguished record of achievement, was given to Vivian Newman, a club member from Maine who has spent two decades working to protect the integrity of our nation's coasts, waters and wetlands.

Others receiving Sierra Club awards for 2003 include the following:

The EarthCare Award (honors an individual, organization or agency that has made a unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation): The International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN).

The Electronic Communication Award: Christopher Kelley of Hudson, New Hampshire.

Newsletter Award: The Mackinac (published by the Michigan Chapter) and the Desert Report (published by the California/Nevada Desert Committee).

Carolyn Carr

The Raymond Sherwin International Award (for international conservation): Carolyn Carr of Auburn, Alabama.

Special Achievement Award (recognizes a single act of importance dedicated to conservation): In addition to Subhankar Banerjee; Gina Carola of Westville, New Jersey; and Marilyn Wall of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Oliver Kehrlein Award (for outstanding service to the club’s Outings program): Rudy Scheffer of Safety Harbor, Florida.

One Club Award (recognizes people who use outings as a way to instill an interest in conservation and protecting public lands): Robert Keane of Miliani, Hawaii.

Julia Bott

Special Service Awards (for strong and consistent commitment to conservation over an extended period of time): David Raney of Honolulu, Hawaii; Brian Scherf of Hollywood, Florida; Susie Shields of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the late Jim Stephens of Hapeville, Georgia.

Susan E. Miller Award (for outstanding service to Sierra Club chapters): Julia Bott of San Mateo, California; and Ralph Salisbury of Riverside, California.

The Walter A. Starr Award (for continuing support of the Club by a former director): Ann Pogue of Solana Beach, California; and Tony Ruckel of Denver, Colorado.

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