AWARE to focus more on campaigns 

Wetlands, sustainability framework are top local concerns

More than 70 people packed the Delta Whistler Resort for the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment annual general meeting Jan. 19, which included a summary of the past year’s achievements, a financial report and the appointment of a new board of directors.

It was also Stephane Perron’s last meeting as president. With a baby on the way, Perron stepped down after three years leading AWARE. He did, however, accept a nomination to serve as a director for the organization.

"I really look forward to remaining active as a board member and having time to get involved in other aspects of the organization and its campaigns," said Perron.

The new board of directors includes many long standing members and past directors, including Perron, Laurin Kyle Boyle, Max Goetz, Brad Kasselman, Sara Leach, Johnny Mikes, Lisa Princic, Judy Stockton, Allana Hamm, John Mack, Inge Flanagan, Eckhardt Zeidler, and Mitchell Rhodes – Rhodes will also act as interim president until a new president can be found. The board of directors will sit down to better define the duties and responsibilities of a president, before offering the position to AWARE members and members of the community.

From a financial point of view, AWARE is in a good position, according to treasurer Zeidler, with net assets of $35,000. About $10,000 has already been set aside to fund a reclamation project in the Emerald Forest, and $1,500 was set aside to buy environment-related books for the public and school libraries.

As AWARE becomes more active in key issues, Zeidler would like to see the membership generate more money in donations and grants. "Right now, we’re sitting okay. A number of the directors are feeling quite strongly that any campaigns in the coming year have to be self-funding. And we’re going to have campaigns to run, like valley-bottom intiatives, in our wilderness backyard, with the sustainability initiative," said Zeidler.

Last year AWARE spent almost $6,000 on an Elaho educational report concerning the future of the proposed Stoltmann National Park and Elaho Valley, and Zeidler feels the money was well-spent. While logging in the Elaho continued, as part of a concerted effort with other environmentalists AWARE played a part in the regional forest district manager’s decision not to approve a logging road into the back of the valley. AWARE also helped raise public awareness.

The educational report was the most expensive AWARE campaign, but only the tip of the iceberg in terms of projects that were undertaken.

"I think the campaign that saw the most energy put into it this year was the Stoltmann Wilderness campaign, which focused primarily on the remaining wilderness of the Upper Elaho," said Perron. "Another campaign that also had good volunteer support was the protection of wilderness values in the Lillooet Forest District through the LRMP process going on there.

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