We were excited to award our annual Conservation Leadership Awards as part of the KCP Fall Gathering in Cranbrook on September 29.

The 2017 recipients of the award were Rob Neil and Irene Manley, both of whom have done amazing work in conservation in the Kootenay region.

East Kootenay

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.

West Kootenay

IRENE MANLEY, who is featured in this month’s Faces & Places (click here for the feature), is a renowned wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations in Nelson who has proven herself a leader in ecosystem conservation. Known for her passion and strong commitment to her work in species-at-risk habitat management and ecosystem restoration, Irene works tirelessly to lead and support many conservation efforts throughout the Kootenay region. One example is the Harrop Wetland Restoration Project – Irene’s support led to the securement of over $58,000. Irene has a very diverse work portfolio. She 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.