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Local men and woman who have devoted themselves to caring for one of the Eastern Sierraâ€™s most precious landscapes have been recognized by the Sierra Business Council with a 2011 Vision Award.
Announced earlier this month, the Sierra Vision Award is being accepted by the Alabama Hills Stewardship Program as both a validation of the groupâ€™s blood, sweat and tears and a source of inspiration as they continue their efforts to preserve and protect the public lands west of Lone Pine.
Steward Chris Langley said the award is an acknowledgement that the hard work the group has done is being recognized and that the hard work does pay off. Steward Kevin Mazzu said that the award is very appreciated and he, too, considered the award â€śa re-affirmation of the hard work the stewards have done over the past six years in partnering with the BLM and in securing the designation.â€ť
The stewards have been working toward federally designating the hills since November 2006 when the Bureau of Land Management Central California Resource Advisory Council expressed its support for the grassroots effort of a designation. Since the designation idea was first sparked, it has been an effort locally driven with all stake-holders represented.
The Alabama Hills Stewardship Program was nominated for the Sierra Vision Award by the BLM for being a â€śself-led group,â€ť as stated in the formal nomination provided by Langley, and being â€śinstrumental in implementing a community plan for the Alabama Hills while working with federal agencies.â€ť The BLM also gave the stewards credit for completing numerous projects, including â€śvarious rehabilitation projects, the Donâ€™t Crush the Brush marketing campaign, organizing a number of public education and outreach days, development of the Alabama arch trail, and publication of the â€śAlabama Hills Movie Road Tour Guide.â€ť
The group was also praised for its community-based exploration and decision process for an official designation for the famous hills under the BLMâ€™s National Landscape Conservation System. The stewards are still seeking federal support from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
This is not the first award for the stewards. In 2008, the group of volunteers received the Department of Interiorâ€™s Cooperative Conservation Award.
And, this is not the first Vision Award for Langley, who, as Inyo County film commissioner, was a recipient along with Jaque Hickman as part of the Museum of Lone Pine Film History when it received a Vision Award in 2006, then known as the Vision 2020 Award.
According to the SBC website, the awards are given to â€śleaders and visionaries in the areas of conservation, sustainable business practices, workforce development, and green economic development will be honored on behalf of their tremendous contributions to the health and wealth of the Sierra Nevada.â€ť
The Alabama Hills Stewardship Project is one of five recipients of the award chosen from 30 nominees in a very competitive process.
â€śSome of the greatest things happen under conditions of adversity and at Sierra Business Council weâ€™re committed to solutions that create opportunity from those exact circumstances,â€ť the SBC said in a press release. â€śEach year, we host an event to recognize and encourage leadership in the Sierra, honoring community members as their work continues to demonstrate community vitality, environmental quality, economic prosperity and social fairness.â€ť
Mazzu, Langley and other stewards will be accepting the award at the Leland Stanford Mansion in Sacramento on April 6 and the SBCâ€™s awards dinner from 5-8 p.m. on â€śSierra Dayâ€ť at the State Capitol.
Sierra Day is an annual event sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy that allows groups like the SBC and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group to meet with their state representatives.
Mazzu said he plans on taking advantage of the opportunity to talk to state legislators and other award recipients, as they all share a common love of the Sierra Nevada.