The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) announced the recipients of its annual Conservation Leadership Award on Friday, October 12 in Nelson as part of the annual KCP Fall Gathering.

East Kootenay

With over 50 years of conservation service, there are few people who match GERRY WILKIE as a sustaining conservation force in the Rockies.

The Banff Centre Grounds Supervisor for 30 years, Gerry was deeply involved in conservation in Banff and the Bow Valley. He was one of the original members of the Bow Valley Naturalists, serving as president for several years and as an executive member from the organization’s inception in 1967 until he and his wife Carol relocated to Edgewater in 1997. Gerry was also a director of the Calgary chapter of the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada, now known as the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and a member of the Alberta Wilderness Association.

As a Columbia Valley retiree, Gerry swiftly joined the Jumbo Creek Conservation Society and became a member of the regional board for the East Kootenay Environmental Society (now known as Wildsight), a position he held from 1998-2000. In 2006, he attended the first founding meeting of the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners (CWSP). Gerry later became CWSP president and is currently Past President and an executive member.

Politically, he has had great influence as an elected official. The Area G director for the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) for the past two terms, Gerry was a huge proponent of the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF), which was established by referendum in 2008 and is administered by KCP on behalf of the RDEK. In the last decade, the CVCLF has raised over $1.6 million for conservation projects that have helped protect, conserve and maintain the Columbia Valley’s world-renowned natural landscapes and environment.

Gerry’s ability to bring the community together through constructive dialogue makes him a well-respected communicator, a tireless defender of wild spaces and community and rural values, and the well-deserving recipient of the 2018 KCP Conservation Leadership Award for the East Kootenay.

West Kootenay

ROB FREW has been involved in conservation since childhood, assisting his late father, Gordon Frew, and other advocates in wildlife conservation as well as in efforts to preserve wildlands as conservation areas. Like his predecessors, Rob has always recognized the link between vibrant wildlife populations and healthy ecosystems. He was a member of the group that was instrumental in securing the Fort Shepherd Conservancy south of Trail and has been an advocate for the ecosystem-friendly stewardship of both Crown and privately held land in the Kootenay region.

Rob has also long been involved in conservation project planning and implementation. A retired senior environmental coordinator for Teck, Rob was the project leader of the 2013-2014 Murphy Creek Spawning & Rearing Channel Restoration Project. For the project, the Trail Wildlife Association formed partnerships with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development – Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program section, the Okanagan Nation Alliance and other stakeholders to improve the habitat and water delivery system in an important Rainbow trout spawning and rearing side-channel of the Columbia River.

Rob has also significantly contributed to conservation as an educator. He has spent countless hours as a mentor providing on-the-ground support on a number of issues and projects, helping prepare others to undertake complex advocacy issues and project work on their own in the future. Rob helped spearhead the Lower Columbia River Planning and Inventory project in 2015 whereby the Trail Wildlife Association partnered with local high school and college students to conduct an inventory of wildlife habitat in an 80-kilometre stretch of the Columbia River corridor in the Trail area, in response to a decrease in the local mule deer and other animal populations.