The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) has been giving the Environmentalist of the Year Award to hard-working, local environmentalists since 1973. This award is a way to celebrate and recognize the past year’s regional champions and community sustainability successes. This year, because of the pandemic, we will be hosting the awards via a video you will be able to stream online, featuring our wonderful awardees and their inspiring environmental work. We are excited to honor our community and reflect on the work we still have in front of us in the year ahead.
Environmentalist of the Year
Dr. Michelle Stevens
Dr. Michelle Stevens, a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at CSUS, has been leading the Bushy Lake Restoration Project along the lower American River Parkway, which protects, studies, and restores Sacramento’s riparian ecosystem. Michelle was able to “sell” this idea to the local community, a myriad of stakeholders, regional professionals and experts, and fellow colleagues. Michelle started with planting a few plants that are important to native peoples in the region, and nurtured it until it grew into a grant-funded restoration plan involving CSUS students and volunteers. Her work is informed and guided in uplifting the historic indigenous practices and culture of traditional ecological knowledge, and provides a hands-on opportunity for college students through CSUS and volunteers. In 2019, this project won an award at the annual CSU-wide Student Research Competition.
Environmentalist of the Year
Brandon Rose was ECOS President 2016-2017. During his tenure, ECOS put on a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) workshop, which helped to attract and train volunteers. ECOS supported Sacramento’s plastic bag ban and ethics reform ordinances. Under his leadership, ECOS also helped the City obtain a $44 million “Green City” grant to construct electric vehicle charging stations and acquire electric vehicle fleets for car sharing programs in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Also during Brandon’s board presidency, ECOS worked with Wilton Rancheria to locate their proposed casino within the County of Sacramento’s Urban Service Area, rather than a rural area. In 2017, ECOS sued Caltrans over its approval of extra lanes on US 50 without considering the environmental impacts of increased traffic, which led to a settlement providing funding for transit. Later that year, Brandon was elected to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) board, which has since committed to carbon neutrality by 2030.
Early Career Environmentalist
Moiz Mir was the president of the Environmental Student Organization at CSUS, 2017–2019. As an intern at the Sacramento Mayor’s Office, he organized youth summits to include students’ voices in the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, and served on the Commission’s Community Health & Resiliency and Equity Technical Advisory Committees. He co-won a statewide “Best Practice in Student Sustainability Leadership Award” for organizing the CSUS Student Summit on Climate Change. As a student, Moiz worked with Michelle Stevens, supervising student plant experiments at Bushy Lake. With Sunrise Movement Sacramento, Moiz is engaging youth in climate justice action. Moiz recently became the first staff at 350 Sacramento, where he developed a new after-school student climate organizing program.
Anne Stausboll chaired the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change, which presented its recommendations in June 2020. She obtained a unanimous vote on a very progressive set of recommendations, which took two years to develop. The goal is to achieve carbon neutrality in Sacramento and West Sacramento, by 2045. Anne made sure the Commission reviewed and considered everything through a lens of racial and income equity. She is inspiring us to be active with the City of Sacramento to ensure that these recommendations are incorporated into the Cities’ Climate Action Plans, and into appropriate ordinances and other city actions. As Anne says, “it is a crisis situation, and we need to act now. We want the city to start seriously adopting and acting on the recommendations. Now. It’s not something that can wait.”
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