Meet the selfless $10,000 conservation winner
Anne Sherrod is the inaugural winner of the Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize from 2017. Visit here to nominate someone for this year’s prize.
When Anne Sherrod began volunteering for Valhalla Wilderness Society in the early 1980s, she supported herself by washing dishes at a local restaurant. She lived in a tiny cabin while renting out her house because she was unable to pay the mortgage. That was before the hate campaign.
Her first major project with the society was public education in support of a proposed local land-use plan. She and her colleagues persevered during the hate campaign against environmentalists aimed to stop the plan, even when one of her colleagues was beaten up by a mob. Three people were convicted.
“Due to the ferocity of the hate campaign, I was drawn into working for the society day and night,” she says. “The directors and I were driven by the relentless need we saw in the environment.”
“There was no hot water in the cabin,” she says. “I heated water and cooked on a camp stove. That being said, I don’t recall experiencing any sense of deprivation. I was quite happy. I lived in a place I loved.”
That place is in the wilds near New Denver, B.C. After nine years of living in the cabin, she was finally able to move back into her house, thanks to a philanthropist, Glen Davis, and a few others who supported the society.
Sherrod, 70, is the inaugural winner of the $10,000 Glen Davis Conservation Leadership Prize for her decades spent protecting B.C.’s natural riches. The prize, given by WWF-Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, honours Glen Davis’s love and support of the wilderness.
As a director, researcher and writer, Sherrod, together with her colleagues, helped double the amount of protected areas in British Columbia to half a million hectares.
“I drafted and networked the Principle of Parks signed by about 100 Canadian and U.S. environmental groups,” she said. This was in addition to working with several B.C. groups to oppose park privatization during the Park Legacy Project, working to protect the South Moresby National Park Reserve, Goat Range Provincial Park and Valhalla Provincial Park, and today, helping to manage the Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park campaign, of which the gem is the Incomappleux ancient forest.
“We played a major role in the defeat of proposals for private power plants on the Incomappleux River,” she explains.
Much of the success has come from her writing. “I always say I’m 30 per cent activist and 70 per cent writer,” she said. That writer has worked for 35 years now, researching and producing hundreds of action alerts, newsletters, petitions, reports and legal documents.
“Anne toiled, mainly behind the scenes, to get results in an area of the country that Glen loved,” says Monte Hummel, president emeritus of WWFCanada and chair of the group that chose her. “Glen not only supported environmental movements, but people in movements. He bet on people like Anne. He recognized that so many people make a pittance while working hard. Anne is a classic example of someone who deserves this award.”
And she showed that in accepting the prize money, donating $1,000 to efforts by the Valhalla Foundation for Ecology and Social Justice to purchase Bonanza Marsh on the lake where she lives. The marsh is home to wetland birds, vulnerable snail species, rare orchids, Chinook salmon and trout that congregate before their journey up the creek.