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Defenders of Michigan waters earn state’s top environmental honors

Policy expert and author Dave Dempsey joins Au Sable River volunteer Bob Andrus at Ann Arbor awards event July 10
Jul 2, 2013
Two champions for Michigan’s Great Lakes and the streams that nurture them have won the Michigan Environmental Council’s (MEC) annual awards for outstanding work in protection of the state’s natural resources.

Dave Dempsey—author, historian, policy expert and activist with decades of experience fighting for the Great Lakes—will receive the Helen & William Milliken Distinguished Service Award.

Bob Andrus—a retired Grayling schoolteacher who devotes thousands of volunteer hours to organizing hands-on habitat improvement for Michigan’s nationally renowned cold water trout streams—will receive the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership.

The awards will be presented Wednesday, July 10 at a celebration in Ann Arbor starting at 5:30 p.m. For information on the event, including ticket prices, click here, or call 517-487-9539.

The Milliken Award—named after former Gov. William G. Milliken—is bestowed annually on a person who has made extraordinary contributions to protect Michigan’s natural resources. The Petoskey Prize is given annually to an individual nominated by an MEC member organization whose commitment, creativity and courage have inspired others to safeguard Michigan’s air, land and water for future generations.

Dave Dempsey
For three decades Dave Dempsey has been among the most consistent, forceful and respected voices for strong public policies that protect Michigan’s environment. His solid and expansive understanding of both the science and history behind the state’s conservation efforts is unparalleled, earning the admiration of friends and foes alike.

Dempsey served as environmental policy advisor to former Michigan Governor Jim Blanchard, and is author or co-author of seven books including Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader—a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the historical context of current environmental policy in the Great Lakes State.

President Bill Clinton appointed Dempsey to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission where he served from 1994-2001. He is a former member of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board, a policy consultant for Clean Water Action, and former director and policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. He also was an adjunct instructor of environmental policy at Michigan State University for several years.

Dempsey currently is policy advisor at the International Joint Commission where he helps provide policy and scientific guidance to protect and secure the Great Lakes and other boundary waters separating the United States and Canada.

“Dave Dempsey is the rare leader who is able to move effortlessly from talking about the arcane technical details of some issue, to explaining in vivid and powerful terms why that issue is so critical to the quality of life for the generations that come after us,” said Chris Kolb, MEC president. “Dave’s contributions to a better Michigan through his public policy advocacy alone deserve our recognition and gratitude. However, when you add in his authoritative chronicling of Michigan’s environmental history through his books, it’s clear he has made a special, positive, and lasting impact on our state.”

Bob Andrus
Andrus has been an active environmental advocate for 30 years—building river conservation movements from the ground up and motivating legions of volunteers to complete hundreds of restoration and protection projects on Michigan’s legendary trout fishing waters. He is as comfortable crafting policy positions for the myriad groups he volunteers with as he is wading in the Au Sable River’s Holy Waters to improve fish habitat.

In a typical year, Andrus organizes and executes stream erosion surveys, cedar plantings, insect surveys and fish habitat construction in streams comprising the Au Sable River watershed. He is founder of the Au Sable River Watershed Committee, is past chair of Michigan Trout Unlimited, and has received awards including the Brook Trout Award from the Mason Griffith Founders Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Bob’s ability to motivate volunteers and partner organizations to accomplish large-scale projects is unparalleled, and has resulted in concrete improvements to Michigan’s trout waters, say his colleagues and admirers.

“Bob is the epitome of the type of Michigan volunteer that selflessly devotes his time to make the state a better place,” said MEC President Kolb. “Rivers like the Au Sable and the Manistee would not be the nationally renowned trout streams they are today without the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Bob. He has truly made a difference.”
Past winners of the Milliken Award are Steve Hamp, Peter Stroh, Peter Wege, Marty Fluharty, Peter Karmanos, Congressman John Dingell, Congressman Vernon Ehlers, Mary C. Brown, Bunyan Bryant, PhD, Lana Pollack, Faye Alexander Nelson and Becky Humphries and Rosina Bierbaum.

Past winners of the Petoskey Prize are Debbie Romak, Alison & David Swan, Diane Hebert, Terry Swier, Michelle Hurd Riddick, Don A. Griffin, Lynn Henning, Carol Drake, Rusty Gates, Margaret Weber, Ken Smith and Blair Miller.

The awards will be presented at MEC’s 15th Annual Environmental Awards Celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Ann Arbor City Club, 1830 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor. Ticket prices are $100. For more information, call 517-487-9539 or visit www.environmentalcouncil.org. *****
Hugh McDiarmid Jr.: 248-660-4300
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