AWARE president stepping down 

Stephane Perron looks back on a successful three years and forward to the challenges ahead

The Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment will be having their annual general meeting in January, and according to president Stephane Perron, there is much to discuss – past successes, current campaigns, the future of Whistler, and, sadly, his own replacement.

For the past three years, Perron has donated his time and energy to serve as president of AWARE, helping to lead the organization through ups and downs. Now, about to become a father in March, Perron doubts whether he will have as much time or energy to spare.

"I understand that things change quite a bit," he says. "It’s a whole new experience for me."

Perron feels he is leaving the presidency on a high note and that AWARE has accomplished a great deal since its last AGM, gaining recognition from industry and government as a strong voice for the environment in Whistler and the region as a whole.

Beginning with a strategic planning session in January, a first for the organization, AWARE divided its responsibilities into two key areas that it refers to as the Wilderness Backyard and the Whistler Valley Bottom.

"More people recognize Whistler as a line of wilderness, or a line of extinction for certain species," says Perron. "When you look South, a lot of species are in trouble; look North and those same species are still healthy."

In their backyard, AWARE was outspoken in its objections to logging in the Elaho Valley and in its support for the proposed Stoltmann National Park. The organization has also became involved with the Lillooet Land Resource Management Plan, which is nearing completion. As the so-called line of extinction for the grizzly bear, AWARE is committed to keeping key habitat areas in the LRMP intact.

AWARE also helped to convince the Squamish district forest manager to withhold approval for controversial cutblocks and a logging road to the back of the Elaho Valley through a petition and a letter writing campaign.

AWARE has received letters of support for these initiatives from organizations like the Chateau Whistler and Intrawest chairman Joe Houssian – "people who know that the success of the resort relies on visitors knowing that wild places and things are still out there."

In the Whistler Valley Bottom area, much closer to home, AWARE, has been outspoken in its defence of wetlands and green areas.

Over the past year AWARE was part of the municipality’s successful bid to secure protected status for the Emerald Forest. AWARE also spoke out against developments in the Millar Creek and Alpha Lake wetlands and in the Spruce Forest (kitty corner to the health care centre).

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