KIRO 7, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), is proud to bring you the 2017 Cox Conserves Heroes program.
Created in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, Cox Conserves Heroes recognizes local environmental volunteers and makes donations to local nonprofits on their behalf. It's our way of honoring the unsung heroes in our communities and supporting the organizations that matter to them.
During the first part of the campaign, the public nominated volunteers making a difference in their communities. A panel of local environmental leaders narrowed the list of nominees to three tremendous finalists who are profiled below.
Learn more about these unique individuals through the video features that tell their stories. The winning volunteer’s organization will receive $10,000. The other two finalists’ organizations will each receive $5,000.
Beneficiary: Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust
The Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River flows just 40 miles from downtown Seattle – the perfect distance for Mark Boyar to escape the city for a weekend in the wilderness.
But it was far from picture perfect when Mark first visited the valley in 1990. This beautiful wilderness had become a dangerous place, subjected to illegal dumping and shooting and hidden meth labs. But Mark saw the potential.
One of the first things on the to-do list, build a bridge. Mark put in two summers of hard physical labor, and some sleepless nights. The payoff was access to trails that have become popular with the public and he continues to galvanize volunteers to maintain improvements through the Weed Watcher Program, training other volunteers to recognize invasive weeds and keep the river banks clear.
Now he’s got his eyes on the future – creating a shuttle system all the way up the valley so that people in wheelchairs may have access to the edge of a wild and scenic river, so school kids can visit without the expense of a bus.
There’s a lot of work left to do, but Mark is committed to the project.
Beneficiary: Nature Consortium
It’s an oasis of green in the middle of an urban area. The idea was to save a section of forest from development. The result is Cedar Creek Park. And the person to thank is Lisa Parsons, who has been hiking this section of land between Maple Valley and Covington for 20 years.
When she first started coming to the area it was beautiful, but wild. Lisa stepped up to the challenge - talking to politicians and community groups, securing funding, finding people to build trails, and working with neighbors to allow access.
She had no idea how much work it was going to be, but while taking on this enormous task she picked up a new hobby along the way – photography. That passion continues, and extends beyond Cedar Creek Park.
Last summer, Lisa hiked—and photographed—Green River Gorge, bringing another section of western Washington wilderness into focus by sharing the pictures and the need for conservation with community groups nearby.
Lisa wants people to know – through action and images – that one person change things for the better.”
Beneficiary: Chehalis River Basin Land Trust
There’s no shortage of trails in western Washington, but Discovery Trail just north of Centralia has a purpose beyond providing shade on a hot summer day. Water. And when it comes to the Chehalis River, the woman working to preserve it is Jan Robinson.
In the early 2000s, Jan volunteered at a restoration event, got her hands dirty, and has been active ever since. Since ten she’s grown from a volunteer to a leader, now serving as board president of the Chehalis River Basin Land Trust - a group working to conserve, protect, and restore a watershed that extends more than 2600 square miles.
Work on Discovery Trail has resulted in the restoration of a one mile long riparian area along the river, an area that is critical to the health and well-being of the wildlife that live there – deer, beaver, eagles, and more.
This section has been planted - and replanted as needed - by hundreds of volunteers, many of them local students. Jan has a particular interest in getting youth involved in nature… she sees it as an investment in the future.
Season after season changes come to the Chehalis River, which means more work will always need to be done. Jan’s goal is to not just enjoy the space that has meant so much to her during her lifetime, but build a legacy of those who will help protect it in the future.
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