More and more folks live fulfilling lives well into their senior years but it’s especially noteworthy when an octogenarian is still working on environmental conservation issues like Florence LaRiviere. This year the Environmental Law Institute honored LaRiviere with its 2012 National Wetlands Award for “Wetland Community Leader” and asked U.S. Forest Service scientist and Associate Deputy Chief for Research and Development, Dr. Deanna J. Stouder, to present the award.
“I was so honored to give Florence this important recognition for her many years of environmental dedication,” said Stouder. “As a former resident of the East Bay area I learned that some of the San Francisco Bay wetlands she labored to save are among my favorite running spots. Florence, and her husband, love the area and dedicated themselves to protecting wetlands. Her life is a shining example of what one person can do if they dedicate themselves to an idea.”
LaRiviere first became involved in her efforts to protect wetlands along the San Francisco Bay in 1968. She believed strongly in the need to preserve vital wetlands and salt pounds as this is important for protecting the habitat of hundreds of waterfowl and migratory birds. Her efforts, along with other concerned citizens, resulted in protecting over 20, 000 acres in what is now the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay Wildlife Refuge.
“There are very discouraging times that you have to battle through,” said LaRiviere. “It takes a lot of time and a lot of energy. At the refuge, there would have been building all the way to the edges of the Bay and into the Bay if we hadn’t put up ‘the fight.’ Sometimes there are things worth fighting for and when you win it is very rewarding.”
LaRiviere pushed forward an even broader preservation effort to protect adjacent uplands and seasonal wetlands. Her efforts lead to an additional 20,000 acre expansion of the refuge in 1988.
Over the years the organization LaRiviere founded, Citizens Committed to the Complete the Refuge, has worked tirelessly to preserve larger areas of the South San Francisco Bay wetlands. Today the entire East Bay shoreline from Oakland to the Don Edwards Refuge, a distance of nearly 15 miles, is in public ownership and dedicated to preserving these wetlands.
The National Wetlands Award Program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by numerous Federal agencies including the U.S. Forest Service.