Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Connie Gallant awarded 2021 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award

Port Townsend Marine Science Center honors longtime Olympic Peninsula activist

2021 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award winner Connie Gallant.
Photo credit George Sternberg, 3rd Act Magazine.

The Port Townsend Marine Science Center announced today that Connie Gallant is the recipient of the 2021 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award. The award was announced at the annual PTMSC Stewardship Celebration during a Zoom event.

Gallant and her husband moved to Olympic Peninsula in 1982. Shortly thereafter, her future as an environmental activist came into focus. Monitoring dissolved oxygen levels on Quilcene and Dabob bays, Gallant and fellow activists organized opposition to the excessive commercial oyster farming that was depleting the local waters of oxygen essential to sustaining the ecosystem.

Soon Gallant was working with the Olympic Forest Coalition, the Olympic Park Associates, the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society and the North Olympic Group of the Sierra Club to halt deforestation throughout the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Forest Collaborative was the outgrowth of that cooperation.

One of Gallant’s most notable achievements has been her groundbreaking work on the Wild Olympics Campaign, which spawned the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The federal legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and awaits approval by the U.S. Senate. If passed by both chambers, the legislation is expected to become law following President Biden’s signature.

“We must come to understand that it is cheaper to protect than to restore wilderness,” Gallant said in a video announcing the award. “We are talking about our planet ... This is it. You have to be on top of all these issues all the time. But regardless, never give up fighting for what you believe in.”

About the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award
From the 1960s through the 1990s, Eleanor Stopps was an active member of the Pacific Northwest conservation community. She founded the Admiralty Audubon Chapter and was a primary driver behind the establishment of the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1982, one of the few federally protected marine refuges established by an Act of Congress at that time. Today it is a critical habitat link in the preservation of the entire Salish Sea ecosystem, providing breeding grounds for pigeon guillemots and rhinoceros auklets, bald eagles and peregrine falcons, harbor seals and elephant seals, and myriad other species.

Stopps died in April 2012 at the age of 92.

The leadership award created in her memory is presented annually to a citizen(s) of the North Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam counties) who has led a successful resource conservation effort that benefits the North Olympic Peninsula and its residents directly; acted as a community catalyst for programs, initiatives or ventures that demonstrate a commitment to the future of the earth and its biodiversity; become a model for future leaders in business and education; or has been an exemplary citizen or policy maker who has implemented decisions that, though they may entail risks, have helped our communities take the next step towards environmental sustainability.

The PTMSC has sponsored this annual award since 2009.