This year, environmentalists from the local Sierra Club Yolano Group’s area (primarily Yolo County) received 4 of the 6 individual awards given for all of Northern California at the Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter Annual Awards Banquet in Sacramento on May 18. One additional special award for meritorious service was given to a local environmentalist by the Yolano Group.
The Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club covers almost all of Northern California from Yosemite to the Oregon border and the Inner Coast Range to the Nevada state line. The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest and oldest environmental group and has almost 1,500 members in Yolo Co. and 3.5 million members nationwide.
Following are the local environmental heroes receiving the awards at the gala event and a brief description of why they were recognized.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Bob Schneider – Bob’s history of environment advocacy and protection of wild and scenic places is as storied as it is long. For over the last 50 years, Bob Schneider has dedicated much of his time, talent, and energy to a specific goal – preserving and protecting the natural resources and wildlife in the region. He advocated for and contributed to the formation of Redwood National Park in 1968 and organized the first local Earth Day event in 1970 as an undergraduate geology student at UC Davis. But he was just getting started. What followed were critical contributions on many fronts including helping to ensure adequate water flow and the return of salmon in Putah Creek, helping to establish the much-loved Vic Fazio Wildlife Refuge, helping develop the City of Davis’ Agricultural Land Conversion Mitigation Ordinance, co-founding California Duck Days, and, of course, co-founding Tuleyome in 2002.
Tuleyome advocated for the Cache Creek State Wild and Scenic River in 2005 which was followed by their critical support of Congressman Mike Thompson’s North Coast Wild Heritage bill that designated the Cedar Roughs, Cache Creek and Yuki Wilderness, and additions to Snow Mountain Wilderness in 2006. Bob also played a key role in Tuleyome gaining fee title ownership to nearly 3,000 acres that protect key ecological parcels and enhance access to public lands, including the headwaters of Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. Most impressively, Bob spearheaded Tuleyome’s decade-long successful effort to establish the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in 2015.
Gary Pichon Wilderness Award – Andrew Fulks – There is arguably no one who has done more to map and blaze new trails in the Inner Coast Range than Andrew Fulks. For over 20 years he has spent countless hours exploring and assembling an amazing collection of dozens of detailed trail maps with geo-coordinates and photos at www.YoloHiker.org. It remains today the definitive source of hiking and trail information for Yolo, Napa, and Lake counties.
Andrew was also a co-founder of Tuleyome in 2002 which pushed for the designation of the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument in 2015. Andrew remained President of the organization for 15 years until recently. While he still remains a Board member, this allows more time for him to devote to his first calling – trail mapping and construction and rebuilding efforts following several years of devastating fies in the region.
In his day job Andrew is the the Assistant Director of the UC Davis Arboretum and Gardens and Director of the Putah Creek Presrve at UC Davis. Andrew is also long term member of Yolo County Parks Commission and a member representing UC Davis of the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee.
Sid Arnold Award for Outings Leadership – Jim Cramer – Since retiring from UC Davis, Jim has led innumerable hikes in recent years – most to the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Jim is a Lifetime Sierra Club member and a Certified Outings Leader. As much as possible he includes informative discussions of ecology and history during his hikes particularly focusing on natural resoration and renewal after the recent devastating fires in the Inner Coast Range.
Jim has made a remarkable contribution to outings leadership to the Sierra Club community and has influenced and educated 100s of hikers with experiences that will last a lifetime. We are truly fortunate to have him lead these local and regional hikes for all of our members and the public.
People can view a list of Jim’s and other Sierra Club Yolano Group upcoming hikes at https://www.sierraclub.org/mother-lode/yolano/outings or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and request to be put on his email list for notification of future hikes.
Special Award for Local Activist Group – Woodland Coalition for Green Schools – The Coalition was founded by UC Davis professor of Native American Studies, Liza Grandia in 2017 after she discovered students and parents were nauseated and overwhelmed from the toxic, acrid smell of new carpet in her daughter’s second grade class. Dr. Grandia happened to be spending a sabbatical year studying toxicology and environmental epidemiology to incorporate more scientific expertise into research and advocacy with indigenous groups facing extractive and others environmental threats of their territories.
She began applying her newfound knowledge to raise concerns with the Woodland School District Board of Trustees about toxic chemicals. In short order her relentless advocacy resulted in the District replacing all of the off-gassing carpet, eliminating glyphosate from their list of approved chemicals for weed control, and hiring a new environmental officer for the District. She has been featured in a number of regional TV broadcasts and has initiated a new program to help parents and students “Green their Lives” to the benefit of everyone in the Woodland School District and the City.
Additionally, the Yolano Group presented a Special Award for Meritorious Service to Petrea Marchand. This award is in recognition of her exemplary leadership as the Executive Director of the Yolo Habitat Conservancy. Petrea led the Conservancy’s successful effort to complete a countywide conservation plan for 12 endangered and threatened species after saving the plan from near abandonment as it floundered in 2012 after two decades of work. Overcoming significant financial and political obstacles, she worked with four cities, Yolo County, state and federal governments, local environmental groups and other stakeholders to develop the plan over the course of six years.
The plan was unanimously adopted in 2018 by all governments and agencies with enthusiastic support from regional environmental groups. This landmark Conservation Plan, primarily as a result of Petrea’s relentless determination and hard work, will result in coordinated mitigation for the impacts on habitat from future development in Yolo County significantly improving the preexisting piecemeal approach.
The Sierra Club and all of us in Yolo County are fortunate indeed to have these exceptional individuals working to improve and advocate for our environment right in our own backyard.