Earlier this year in April, former Invermere Valley Echo reporter Steve Jessel was the recipient of the Environmental Initiative Award at the annual Ma Murray Community Newspaper Awards for his 2012 series on the protection of Lot 48. The award, sponsored by Vancouver-based printing company International Web Express, included a $1,000 donation towards a non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice. As such, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), the land conservation organization that purchased the property, was selected to receive the funds donated by International Web Express.
“We were totally thrilled and honoured that we’d be chosen for that, thrilled that his work was recognized and that it related to our interests in conservation and also thrilled that there was a financial donation made to our work,” Nature Conservancy of Canada Canadian Rocky Mountains Program Manager Nancy Newhouse told The Echo, adding that the NCC kept all the series’ newspaper clippings. “It was really an honour to be chosen for something like that and we take it seriously to use donors’ money in the best way that we can to support the conservation in the community.”
Steve Jessel’s series on Lot 48 beat out two contenders from major urban centres — a bio-diesel piece published by Victoria’s Monday Magazine and a piece on cycling by The Vancouver Courier.
Of Mr. Jessel’s work, the Ma Murray judges commented that “although small in size, Lot 48 is huge in significance for environmental and cultural reasons. Steve Jessel’s story tells us why it was important to protect this land and how it was saved… “
Prior to this year’s award, International Web Express manager Byron Sheardown had never heard of Lot 48 nor the Nature Conservancy of Canada. His company has been sponsoring the award of over five years, since its inception.
“I asked BCYCNA to create an environmental writing award many years ago and when they did it they contacted me to sponsor it,” he said. “We’ve always understood the importance of a healthy environment and creating a sustainable one is crucial to our survival. I think Paul Hawken said ‘you can’t do business on a dead planet.’ “
“We’re really excited about the conservation values on Lot 48, both ecologically and culturally,” Ms. Newhouse said. “It was the last piece of private land on that east side complex, so by protecting that 315 acres, we were able to protect the whole east side.”
To learn more about International Web Express, visit www.intwebexpress.com. For more on the NCC, visit www.nature