Thursday, October 3, 2019

2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award presented to Cheri Scalf

Port Townsend Marine Science Center honors longtime salmon restoration advocate and volunteer

Cheri Scalf (r) is congratulated by 2018 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award winner Sarah Doyle (r).
The Port Townsend Marine Science Center announced today that Cheri Scalf is the recipient of the 2019 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award. Scalf has been working on the restoration of salmon runs on the Olympic Peninsula for nearly three decades, first with Wild Olympic Salmon, then with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition and now with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The award was presented at the annual PTMSC Stewardship Breakfast at The Commons at Fort Worden State Park on Oct. 3.

The prestigious Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award recognizes significant contributions in the protection and stewardship of the natural environment of the North Olympic Peninsula. The award, now in its 15th year, pays tribute to Eleanor Stopps, whose vision, advocacy and determination exemplify the power and importance of citizen leadership.

“Cheri is often considered the godmother of the salmon by her friends, family and volunteers,” said North Olympic Salmon Coalition Stewardship Coordinator Sarah Doyle, who received the award in 2018. “She has led a volunteer salmon monitoring project over the last 27 years that has played a critical role in informing fisheries managers of the status of our local salmon populations and has also provided an avenue for community members to be a part of salmon recovery efforts on the Olympic Peninsula.”

Scalf played a vital role in the incubation and rearing of juvenile endangered Hood Canal summer chum salmon while volunteering with Wild Olympic Salmon from 1992-1999 and while working for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Over the years she has worked on the Chimacum, Salmon, Snow, Jimmycomelately, Thorndyke and Tarboo creeks.

Among her notable efforts:
- Scalf was instrumental in the early restoration of summer chum on Chimacum Creek after their returns were reduced to virtually zero. Scalf and other Wild Olympic Salmon volunteers spent countless late nights monitoring thousands of eggs that would later boost the population to over 1,500 wild salmon. She also advocated for and assisted in the restoration of chum salmon habitat.

- Scalf was a strong voice for the construction of a bridge over West Uncas Road. During the 10-year span for the culvert to be removed and the bridge to be built, she recruited volunteers and hauled sandbags to help salmon get through the culvert to healthy spawning habitat upstream. She also engaged stakeholders, agencies and political leaders to advocate for the critical project. The bridge was completed in 2018 and adult summer chum now swim under the bridge to spawning grounds.

- Volunteers recruited by Scalf have, in turn, engaged other community groups to bring even more participants to salmon restoration projects.

- Scalf educates youths and adults about the importance of salmon to local watersheds. Some of her young volunteers have gone on to pursue careers in environmental science.

About the Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award

From the 1960s through the 1990s, Eleanor Stopps was an active member of the Pacific Northwest conservation community. She founded the Admiralty Audubon Chapter and was a primary driver behind the establishment of the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1982, one of the few federally protected marine refuges established by an Act of Congress at that time. Today it is a critical habitat link in the preservation of the entire Salish Sea ecosystem, providing breeding grounds for pigeon guillemots and rhinoceros auklets, bald eagles and peregrine falcons, harbor seals and elephant seals, and myriad other species.

Stopps died in April 2012 at the age of 92.

The leadership award created in her memory is presented annually to a citizen(s) of the North Olympic Peninsula (Jefferson and Clallam counties) who has led a successful resource conservation effort that benefits the North Olympic Peninsula and its residents directly; acted as a community catalyst for programs, initiatives or ventures that demonstrate a commitment to the future of the earth and its biodiversity; become a model for future leaders in business and education; or has been an exemplary citizen or policy maker who has implemented decisions that, though they may entail risks, have helped our communities take the next step towards environmental sustainability.

The PTMSC has sponsored this annual award since 2009.

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