10:45AM–Conservation Leaders Meet with EPA Administrator Dennis McLerran
Last week leaders from Alaska’s conservation community had the distinct privilege of meeting with EPA Regional Administrator Dennis McLerran.
Organized by Cook Inletkeeper Executive Director Bob Shavelson and ACA Executive Director Caitlin Higgins, the meeting was the first with Mr. McLerran since he took the position this year. Leaders from Alaska’s environmental community attended the meeting which included other high level EPA officials.
The discussion broached a wide range of Alaskan topics on which the EPA has traditionally played a role. From agricultural chemicals, to coal dust, to offshore drilling regulations, Alaska’s conservation spokespeople presented their wide-ranging concerns for the good of the state. Discussion was lively and open, as Mr. McLerran and his colleagues addressed each issue with a description of current protocol and future possibilities from the perspective of the federal office.
During the brief meeting Mr. McLerran spoke of a longtime affinity for Alaska and his many northern adventures by kayak and over land. He was generally responsive to the concerns brought to the table, and expressed enthusiasm to work together with the greater conservation community in Alaska to protect citizen’s health and the state’s wild places.
1:30PM–Conservation Community Convenes for ACA End of Session Meeting
Much of Alaska’s conservation community gathered in Anchorage last week to celebrate a successful legislative session, evaluate performances, and deliberate future strategies. The Alaska Conservation Alliance played host for the series of meetings, but much of the program was presented by the leaders in attendance from around the state.
An online communications workshop sponsored by Polly Carr and the Alaska Conservation Foundation was widely regarded as one of the most constructive sessions of the week. Michael Sharp, Communications Director for Cook Inletkeeper, presented web strategies and social media principles. Not afraid to shoot straight, Sharp pointed out gaps in the conservation community’s e-world and even more, pointed the way towards strategic development with an enthusiasm that no doubt sent attendees back to their offices with some hacking ahead of them.
Caitlin Higgins, Executive Director of the Alliance, led the traditional End of Session discussion around the theme of collective potential. Toward that theme, leaders like Pam Miller of Alaska Community Action on Toxics and Emily Fehrenbacher of the Sierra Club presented successful methods for organizing and linking with non-traditional partners. Framing the discussion around successes from the past year and overarching conservation goals, Caitlin pointed out ways to increase capacity from the community’s statewide base.
Attendees also had the privilege of guest speakers Senator Lesil McGuire and Senator Bill Wielechowski. Champions of pivotal conservation legislation during the 2010 session, the senators reflected that the year’s successes represented a paradigm shift for energy and environmental policies in Alaska. The veteran legislators shared stories from the trenches and gave their insight on how to best transcend traditional images and party norms to create positive state policy in the future.
The meetings also included discussion around the upcoming conservation priorities selection process for the 27th legislative session. Looking forward, the community has a lot of momentum to utilize with the political scene ever-evolving and another session only months away. The room had an optimistic tone as the event was concluded and the crowd filed out, headed back to work to keep Alaska great.
4:30PM–Tileston Award Nominations Open
The Alaska Conservation Alliance and the Resource Development Council (RDC) both agree that economic development and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive goals. The Tileston award was created to acknowledge individuals and/or businesses that create solutions and innovations advancing both goals. The “Tileston Award” is named in honor of two long-time Alaskans, Peg and Jules Tileston, who worked on seemingly different sides of conservation and development issues but who always agreed “that if it is in Alaska, IT MUST BE DONE RIGHT!”
The conservation community and the development community stand to learn from the example set by the Tilestons. We will get further by working together starting early in the process; by engaging in open, honest, and—above all—respectful dialogue; and by identifying together the overarching vision of how a successful project can and should balance environmental conservation and responsible resource development.
The 2010 nomination deadline is May 15, 2010. Please complete the nomination form.
4:35PM–ACA End of Session Meeting to be held in Anchorage on May 14th
The Alaska Conservation Alliance will be holding its End of Session meeting in Anchorage on May 14th. The meeting is a chance to look back on the legislative session and to look forward over the current conservation landscape in Alaska. In addition to a recap of wins and losses in Juneau over the past few months, the meeting will also address procedures and policies within the statewide conservation community. Participants will discuss the current decision making and priority setting processes, while determining what strategies can maximize our collective power as environmentally concerned citizens. Caitlin Higgins, Executive Director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance and there will be expert speakers from the non-profit and legislative sectors. The event is scheduled from 9am to 3pm on Friday, May 14th, and will be held in Rasmusson Hall, Rm 316, at the Universitiy of Alaska, Anchorage. Please RSVP to Susanna Orr at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.