2013 Award Winners

The Western Planner hands out annual awards

by Dan Pava, AICP, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A very surprised and moved Michael Harper, FAICP, was given the President’s Award. Photo by Marilee Manalo.

A very surprised and moved Michael Harper, FAICP, was given the President’s Award. Photo by Marilee Manalo.

Those attending the Western Planner/APA Nevada Conference Barbecue and the Wyoming Versus the World Softball Game at Zephyr Cove Park in Lake Tahoe, braved crisp evening temperatures, ice-cold local draught beer courtesy of Ayres Associates, and the annual Awards Ceremony delivered by two megaphone festooned speakers standing on a picnic table. Western Planner President Dan Pava opened the awards recognition event with a megaphone powered siren blast that caught most of the crowd’s attention. As evening twilight fell along with the temperature, Pava and Western Planner Treasurer and Awards Committee Diva Amber Vogt proceeded to bestow seven awards on folks who mostly were able to show up for the fandango. Pava and Vogt kept up a brisk pace ceding that it was almost time for Wyoming to take to the lighted ballfield and win once again.

2013 Planner of the Year

Donna Bye, planner for the City of Minot, ND, was surprised to be recognized as the 2013 Planner of the Year. Bye has been the sole planner for the City of Minot since 2001 when the city hired her as their first full-time city planner. While housed in the Engineering Department, Bye has been instrumental in moving the role of planning and zoning from a back stage function to the forefront while becoming a consistent part of the city’s management practices. Over the past three years, Bye has acted as the lead staff person overseeing the development of a new comprehensive plan, during which time the city experienced unprecedented growth (estimated 7 percent since 2010) brought on by the rapid oil and gas development. Also, in June 2011 the City of Minot was heavily affected by the flooding of the Souris River which severely damaged 4,100 homes and displaced some 12,000 people, including Bye and her family.

Article of the Year

Among the seven awards bestowed that evening above the Cove was a new category called the Steadman’s People’s Choice Award for Best Western Planner Article, named in honor of Western Planner founder Stan Steadman who couldn’t attend. The winning article garnered a total of 657 online votes and was authored by Cindy Mendoza- “A Rancher’s Insights on Trails Planning Provide Lessons in Public Involvement.” Click here to read the PDF

Sheldon D. Gerber Award in Environmental Planning

This year’s Sheldon D. Gerber Award in Environmental Planning went to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Regional Plan. John Hester, AICP, accepted the award on behalf of Executive Director Joanne Marchetta. The new plan was adopted on Dec. 12, 2012 after one of the most extensive public outreach efforts ever held for a planning effort in the United States. It sets forth goals, policies, and actions to insure orderly development within the Tahoe Basin. The new TRPA Regional Plan required extraordinary efforts by the TRPA staff, the consultants who helped prepare the technical documents required for the Environmental Impact Statement, and the residents and property owners who provided comments on the draft plan. In addition, there was significant input from the jurisdictions affected by TRPA: City of South Lake Tahoe, CA, El Dorado County, CA, Placer County, CA, Washoe County, NV, Douglas County, NV, and Carson City, NV.

Citizen Planner Award

The 2013 Citizen Planner Award was given to Cecilia McCord, Executive Director of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust in New Mexico. McCord operates a 30-acre organic farm in Lemitar near Socorro. Over the course of her career, she has demonstrated outstanding commitment to wild lands conservation, sustainable agricultural practices to maximize wildlife habitat, and building resilience in rural New Mexican communities. She also was instrumental in the development of several farmers markets in New Mexico, and has co-authored several conservation grants including a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Award for the Middle Rio Grande area. She is a model citizen planner because she is both planner and participant. In addition, McCord has consulted with several Pueblos on agricultural and conservation plans, as well as with the Bosque Del Apache Refuge, New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, and the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association to develop good policies linking agriculture and conservation.

Rural Innovation Award

The Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan and Implementation Actions were recognized by Western Planner with another new award for Rural Innovation. Teton County and the Town of Jackson, Wyoming are comprised of 3 percent private land (76,000 acres) and 97 percent National Parks, National Forests, and the National Elk Refuge. The guiding principle of the Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan is ecosystem stewardship achieved through science-based preservation of a functional habitat network. Jackson and Teton County employed a “swerve to miss” strategy toward public involvement, making it difficult for members of the community to avoid participating. Much of the plan content was developed through a series of interactive, small-group workshops that were held throughout the community, at various times, to give people from all reaches of the county and with any schedule the opportunity to participate. The results were staggering. Almost 2,000 community members – nearly 10 percent of the population – participated in the process at some point, with almost 400 community members participating in the last workshop. The plan was adopted unanimously by both elected bodies with broad support from the community, including the local Conservation Alliance, the Chamber of Commerce, large land owners, and the local Tea Party chapter.

2013 President’s Award

A very surprised Michael Harper, FAICP, was given the President’s Award. Pava noted Harper’s long involvement with the Western Planner, as a board member, and most-recently as a co-chair of this conference. Harper, who is a Reno native and is now retired, was President of the Nevada Chapter of the American Planning Association, and treasurer of the National Association of County Planners.

Lester Award

The venerable Lester Award for 2013 was bestowed upon Erick J. Aune, AICP, of Santa Fe. After 16 years of planning service in the American Inter-Mountain West, Aune was outed by the Tea Party and associated “patriotic” groups as an active Agent of the United Nations, an artifice of Agenda 21’s implementation of monolithic global governance – one sustainability plan at a time. Aune met with the outers on their ground, identifying common core values, even when it was self-evident that a three year community sustainability planning effort for La Plata County Colorado was a shipwreck waiting to happen. With unwavering commitment and support of the community’s vision of a sustainable future, Aune went down with that ship. Fortunately, Aune has resurfaced as a bicycle commuter, (flaunting defenseless motorists by taking up valuable lane width) and continuing to implement sustainability plans in the People’s Republic of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Paul Moberly