The 2017 recipients of the award are Rob Neil and Irene Manley, both of whom have done amazing work in conservation in the Kootenay region.
Rob Neil has contributed over 40 years of vision and expertise to conserving landscapes in the Kootenays. Rob moved to Cranbrook in 1972 to work in the habitat protection section of the Ministry of Environment’s Fish and Wildlife Branch (in all its names and iterations), in both the East and West Kootenay. During this time, Rob helped establish important Wildlife Management Areas and Access Management Areas, and provided landscape level planning efforts like the Southern Rocky Mountains Management Plan. For the last 14 years, from 2003 until his retirement in the spring of 2017, Rob worked as the Kootenay Conservation Land Manager for The Nature Trust of BC. Spectacular places are now better protected because of Rob’s incredible foresight and tireless perseverance in his work. His legacy includes Bull River, Hoodoos, Columbia River Wetlands, Bummers Flats, Wigwam Flats, Meadow Creek, Duncan River, and Slocan Island. A fantastic mentor to many, Rob’s knowledge of the land base and his dedication continue to leave a legacy for protection and conservation of Crown and private land in the region.
Irene Manley is a well-respected wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in Nelson who has proven herself a leader in ecosystem conservation. Irene has worked extensively with species-at-risk and has almost two decades of experience in the Kootenays (East and West) where she has studied the distribution and habitat requirements of Northern Leopard Frogs, Western Toads, Flammulated Owls, Western screech-owls and Lewis’ Woodpeckers. In addition, she also has led and participated in many projects in the Kootenays – ecosystem restoration, wetland restoration and conservation land management to name a few. Irene has an M.Sc. in wildlife biology from Simon Fraser University and is a Registered Professional Biologist. She works tirelessly to lead and support many conservation efforts throughout the Kootenay region, encouraging and offering guidance to countless projects being conducted by non-profit societies that sometimes require the support of biologists to move their projects forward.
Each was presented with a beautiful framed photo — Rob Neil received a photo of the beautiful Cherry Creek conservation property that was generously donated by Graham Osborn and Irene Manley (who was unable to attend the KCP Fall Gathering) was presented the photo of a grizzly bear by Jim Lawrence.
To read more about the Kootenay Conservation Program or past Conservation Leadership Awards recipients, visit www.kootenayconservation.ca.