A long-time Palo Alto resident has won the Wetland Community Leader of the Year Award from the Environmental Law Institute for her work with the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Florence LaRiviere began organizing concerned citizens to establish the first urban wildlife refuge in the country in 1972, according to an announcement from Palo Alto-based Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge.
The Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1974, spans 30,000 acres of open bay, salt pond, salt marsh, mudflat, upland and vernal pool habitats, and is home to more than 280 species of birds who migrate along the Pacific Flyway.
LaRiviere, 88, has spent 40 years working on the refuge, and continues to fight against development along the waterfront. This week she was awarded the 2012 National Wetlands Award and named Wetland Community Leader of the year by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Law Institute.
The award is given annually to people who have “demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of our nation’s wetlands,” according to the announcement. The awards program is backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, USDA National Forest Service, NOAA Fisheries Service, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“To win this award is quite special, but I am just one person. The results we haveachieved are through the hard work of a wonderful, dedicated, knowledgeable group of people that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years,” said Florence LaRiviere, Chairperson of the Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge (CCCR).
“There are several traits that are vital if you are to be an effective environmentalist,” she said.“One is caring. Another is to know what you are talking about by doing as much research as you can. And, you must not give up because there are some very discouraging times that you have to battle through. It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy, and occasionally you have wonderful successes. If you walk up the hill at the Refuge in Fremont, and look around in almost all directions, you’ll see that there would have been building all the way to the edges of the bay and into the bay if we hadn’t put up ‘the fight.’ Sometimes there are things worth fighting for and when you win it is very rewarding.” LaRiviere said.
LaRiviere will receive her award at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 10.