This year we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the ECOS Environmentalist Awards on December 1st at the CA State Railroad Museum! The 2023 Environmentalist Awardees are the Natomas Basin Conservancy Boards, River City Waterway Alliance, and Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Natomas Basin Conservancy Boards, Past and Present (NBC)
Award for Environmentalist of Regional Significance
For twenty-six years, the Natomas Basin Conservancy has capably overseen the implementation of the Natomas Basin Habitat Conservation Plan, as its “Plan Operator.” The Board has approved over 40 land acquisitions and ensured management of these mitigation lands for protected species. Dozens have served as Conservancy Board members, representing Sacramento City and Sutter County – leading to the protection of over 5,000 acres of habitat and agriculture. The volunteers who have served the region in this unique way, deserve our thanks and are truly deserving of receiving this honor.
Award Recipients: NBC Board Chair Chandra Chilmakuri and Executive Director John Roberts
Award Presenter: Former Sacramento Mayor and ECOS Board Member Heather Fargo
Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG)
Award for Public Service – Environmentalist over the Decades
Over the past two decades, with community participation, SACOG has moved our region toward greater sustainability through integrated land use, transportation, and healthier air. The SACOG Board, executive leadership, and staff provide excellent public service in pursuit of sustainability in our region.
This award honors the planning and analysis work represented by SACOG’s 2004 Blueprint, the 2025 Blueprint Update now in progress, the Green Means Go Program to facilitate infill development; and the implementation of smart growth principles through interregional coordination, development of the regional trails network, securing of funding for local transportation projects, and development of a racial equity action plan and a regional economic prosperity partnership.
Award Recipients: SACOG Board Chair Patrick Kennedy and Executive Director James Corless
Award Presenters: Former SACOG board members Christopher Cabaldon and Roger Dickinson
River City Waterway Alliance (RCWA)
Volunteer Group Award
The River City Waterway Alliance is an all-volunteer group that has removed about a million pounds of trash and debris this year from our riverbanks and waterways. The RCWA also partners with government agencies to improve clean-up and prevention strategies, to preserve our natural ecosystems.
Award Recipient: Mark Baker, RCWA
Award Presenter: President Sacramento Area Creeks Council, H2020 Board Member Alta Tura
Through the Environmentalist of the Year Awards, we honor local leaders. The following are just examples of the fields in which awardees work:
- TRANSIT: Work to increase awareness of the importance of expanded transit and infill development to housing affordability, the economic revitalization of inner suburbs, reduction of vehicle trips and related green house gas emissions;
- ANTI-SPRAWL: Stand up against sprawl development and for the key anti-sprawl planning action from 1993, the Sacramento County Urban Services Boundary;
- CLIMATE: Study local government climate plans, make comments and recommendations, and advocate with elected officials and staff to make aggressive and well-supported plans, so our region can be a leader in reversing unhealthy climate change;
- AIR: Implement air quality monitoring as the first step toward air quality improvement;
- HABITAT: Outreach to neighborhoods and elected officials to increase awareness of the importance of our region’s wildlife habitat and habitat-supportive farmland; the landmark 1997 Natomas Basin and South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plans; Sacramento’s location in the Pacific Flyway and in one of the Earth’s biodiversity hotspots;
- ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE: Work to lessen environmental injustices stemming from the past, such as redlining, and happening now, such as air pollution from freeways;
- SERVICE: Serve faithfully on the ECOS Board for many decades;
- FUNDING: Work to promote ballot measures to fund transit, safe and complete streets, and affordable housing;
- WATER: Work tirelessly to improve the management of the region’s surface and ground water quality and supply.
Past Environmentalist of the Year awardees have been citizen activists, professors, students, elected officials, governmental and agency staff, business and labor leaders, scientists, lawyers, developers, planners, and architects.