In the corridor of the Sheraton Palace Hotel before the Sierra Club Annual Dinner awards ceremony, Jim Dodson's two daughters were talking about all the trips they took to the California desert as children. "One of our family jokes," said Eleanor, "is that I have two sisters - Laura and the California Desert Protection Act."
An hour later, after receiving the John Muir Award, the Club's highest award, Dodson echoed his daughter's line in his short speech, referring to "our three children Eleanor, Laura and the California Desert Protection Act."
Dodson, the Deputy Comptroller for Edwards Air Force Base north of Lancaster, Calif., negotiated with former California Sen. Alan Cranston (D) to introduce the first desert bill in 1986. The final bill, passed eight years later, increased the levels of protection on 9 million acres.
"Jim is the best negotiator I have ever seen," said Elden Hughes, 1997 recipient of the John Muir Award and a collaborator with Dodson on the Desert Protection Act.
Since passage of the bill, Dodson has worked to see that it has been implemented and enforced.
Other awards presented:
William O. Douglas Award for contributions in the field of environmental law: Buck Parker, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.
Walter A. Starr Award for continuing support of the Club by a former director: Rebecca Falkenberry, Alabama Chapter.
Susan E. Miller Award for exceptional contributions to chapters by individual Club members: Ladd Seekins, San Gorgonio Chapter (San Bernardino, Calif.).
Oliver Kehrlein Award for outstanding service to the outings program: Vicky Hoover, a national outings leader for 30 years and originator of the Club's activist outings program.
Special Achievement Award in recognition of a single act of importance dedicated to conservation: Santa Fe Group and Rio Grande Chapter (New Mexico).
Special Service Awards for strong and consistent commitment to conservation over an extended period of time: Barbara Frank, Coulee Group (La Crosse, Wis.); Kirk Cunningham, Indian Peaks Group (Boulder, Colo.); Joan Taylor, Tahquitz Group (Palm Springs, Calif.); and Mark Derichsweiler, Oklahoma Chapter.
Newsletter Award: The Ventana (Ventana Chapter, Carmel, Calif.).
Joseph Barbosa Award for members under age 30 who have demonstrated a commitment to the environment: Angelia Halaja, Governor Pinchot Group (Harrisburg, Pa.); Emily McCauley and Gretchen Gordon, Univ. of Oklahoma Sierra Student Coalition. (This new award includes a $1,000 prize to the group or chapter.)
Edgar Wayburn Award for service to the environment by a person in government:
Reps. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa), who introduced H.R. 2789, the National Forest Protection and Restoration Act, which would end commercial logging on federal public lands.
Distinguished Service Award for individuals who have demonstrated a strong commitment to conservation through public service: Delegate Tayloe Murphy Jr., Virginia.
David R. Brower Award for excellence in environmental journalism: Bill Leonard, editorial writer, Des Moines Register; and Matt Hammill, WQAD-TV, Moline, Ill.
Ansel Adams Award for superlative use of still photography to further the conservation cause: Jim Stimson, author of "Mono Lake: Explorations and Reflections."
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