Stewards’ Michele Luna to receive R.R. Chamber’s Spirit of Sonoma award
- The boards of directors of all the major chambers and business associations each year select an individual
who has made a singularly important contribution to Sonoma County and this year, the Russian River Chamber’s twelfth annual Spirit of Sonoma award goes to ….Michele Luna, Director of the Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.
- The Chamber, as well as all of us who treasure the naturally spectacular beauty of the West county and the freedom to access and enjoy it, are especially proud of Luna and grateful for her efforts through the years, during which time she spearheaded and articulated what was and is necessary in order to keep State parks open, well managed and well maintained.
Says the Chamber, “Her well planned strategies succeeded in ….ensuring that our local State Parks, Armstrong Redwoods, Austin Creek and the Sonoma Coast will remain as gems for locals and tourists alike.”
Not only would the closures she helped prevent have had a negative impact on the economy of the County, but it would have immeasurably disappointed those of us whose chief reason for living in the West county is its unmatchable, unsullied beauty and its accessibility.
- When it was discovered this past summer, that California’s parks department had an undisclosed $54 million surplus, prompting Sonoma County to shelve plans for a sales tax hike that would have raised money for state parks, Luna was quick to “assure all of our members, donors and volunteers that Stewards upholds a high level of accountability and transparency (and).we can account for every dollar we receive and spend in support of our mission to promote, restore and protect your state parks.” She went on to say, “I think it is important to remember that our local park staff are not responsible and they need our support as they carry on and do their best to uphold the mission of the Department during this difficult time.”
- Under Luna’s leadership Stewards has raised money and showcased Armstrong Woods’ many attributes via the highly successful Old Grove Festival and the Gourmet Hike as well as other informative, entertaining and educational programs.
- Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods is an outgrowth of a program begun in 1985 when long-time activist and “public conscience” Dian Hardy and other like-minded people from Jenner discovered that the harbor seals at Goat Rock State Beach were in greater danger from beach visitors and unleashed dogs than from the pollution of a recent sewage spill into the Russian River.In response to those concerns, volunteers set up shifts on the beach at the Russian River mouth where they asked visitors to abide by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and stay at least 50 feet from the harbor seals. Thus began one of the first Stewards supported programs, Seal Watch, which became a well-acknowledged
and highly successful program and eventually gave birth to Stewards of Slavianka (or Little Russian Girl). It is now known by its current name, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods.The Russian River Chamber of Commerce asks the public to “Join us in honoring Michele by attending the Spirit Award Lunch. Tickets are $65 . Please make checks payable to Russian River Chamber of Commerce. Please contact the Chamber office ASAP . 869 9000.”
- When: 11:30 a.m., Friday, December 7
- Where: The Doubletree Inn, Rohnert Park