Lake Spirit Awards highlight ways to protect Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Lake Spirit Awards highlight ways to protect Lake Tahoe

Five individuals were recently recognized by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for their commitment to protecting and enhancing Lake Tahoe’s unique natural environment.

The Lake Spirit Awards were presented at the April meeting of the Governing Board.

The awards recognize efforts such as building trails, promoting climate change awareness, organizing beach cleanups, and preserving cultural resources — all initiatives pushed by this year’s winners, according to TRPA.

The awards were started in 2011 to recognize citizens or agency representatives/environmental scientists from both the North and South shores.

“Volunteers picked up 1,473 pounds of trash, including 8,121 cigarette butts and thousands of pieces of plastic.”— Liz LawtonEnvironmental program manager for Liberty Utilities

This year’s Lake Spirit Award winners are:

South Shore Citizen: Helen Henry Smith

Helen Henry Smith had the unique experience of spending her first 14 summers at Emerald Bay’s Vikingsholm as the guest of owner Lora Josephine Knight, according to TRPA.

“As an only child, she fondly remembers walks and conversations with the owner and distinctly recalls the building and landscape details that make Vikingsholm so special,” wrote Heidi Doyle, executive director of the Sierra State Parks Foundation, in nominating Smith.

Following those summers, Smith has spent much of her life working to help preserve the iconic Lake Tahoe castle while forming the Vikingsholm Fund.

“Through this leadership, over $2 million has been acquired to perform significant restoration projects over the years,” Doyle said. “She has made it her life mission to coordinate the needs of Vikinghsolm with State Parks for project completion. This was not always an easy task, but she persevered by soliciting the help of outside resources and remaining heavily involved with the actual work. Although, Smith is no longer able to spend the entire summer at Vikinghsolm, she remains steadfast to its preservation and future.”

North Shore Citizens: Ben and Evan Anderson

Presidents of the Truckee High School Envirolution Club, Ben and Evan Anderson are dedicated to the environment beyond their years and have accumulated more service hours than people twice their ages, according to Melissa “Missy” Mohler, executive director of Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships.

The Andersons have consistently attended watershed service days, Truckee River Days, beach and other community cleanup days, volunteered at booths for environmental outreach, assisted at science fairs, created public environmental outreach, and written letters to local papers and businesses asking for commitments to the environment, among other activities, according to TRPA.

“Most importantly, Ben and Evan have consistently shown up, walked the talk and put in countless hours toward every aspect of our local environment… the wildlife, water quality and conservation, waste management practices, watershed protection, protection of native species, energy conservation, climate change education, and environmental advocacy,” Mohler said in nominating the Andersons.

South Shore Agency Representative/Environmental Scientist: Marilee Movius

League to Save Lake Tahoe Community Engagement Manager Marilee Movius fosters a more informed community through her work, where she manages the League’s volunteer program, cultivates local partnerships, and organizes community events, according to TRPA.

Movius was especially effective at organizing more than 500 volunteers for beach clean ups last July.

“Volunteers picked up 1,473 pounds of trash, including 8,121 cigarette butts and thousands of pieces of plastic,” wrote Liz Lawton, environmental program manager for Liberty Utilities, in nominating Movius. “The event was covered by 26 media outlets from Tahoe, the Northern California region and Northern and Southern Nevada. It is great to see the biggest turnout yet for this event last year and the awareness grow that we need to reduce use and pack out what we pack in.

“Marilee has a great skill at getting even the biggest skeptic excited about environmental issues around Lake Tahoe,” Lawton said. “She lives her environmental stewardship in all her activities.”

North Shore Agency Representative/Environmental Scientist: Jay Howard

Jay Howard’s work at Lake Tahoe dates to the beginning of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, when he was selected in 2000 as Nevada State Parks first staff position for the program, according to TRPA.

He’s led or provided crucial assistance in numerous projects at Lake Tahoe, everything from trail construction to beach restoration to campground upgrades to construction of Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

“Jay has a strong personal commitment to the protection of the fragile environment in the basin,” wrote Mark Kimbrough in nominating Howard. “He understands the importance and necessity for proper planning and studies to establish priority needs for the EIP in the basin. He personally initiated several planning efforts in the park to gather the science necessary for implementation.

“The net results for Jay’s work will be seen for years to come in the basin.”