Lorna Smith.

Lorna Smith.

Eleanor Stopps Award presented

Environmentalist Lorna Smith honored for decades of efforts

PORT TOWNSEND — Environmental advocate Lorna Smith was recognized for decades of conservation work Wednesday when she was given the 2022 Eleanor Stopps Environmental Leadership Award during a Port Townsend Marine Science Center ceremony at Fort Worden.

Smith’s environmental career began in 1978 as a volunteer at Seattle Audubon. She worked with the late Eleanor Stopps, for whom the award is named, in the campaign that led to the creation of the Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge in 1982.

Smith served as the conservation chair and a vice president for the grassroots effort, closely coordinating with Stopps. The two formed a “formidable duo” in the campaign, the marine science center said in a press release.

Working with U.S. Reps. Mike Lowry and Don Bonker, a bill was drafted to establish the refuge on the island that is home to 70 percent of the seabirds that nest in Washington state’s inland waters.

Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge was one of the few federally protected marine refuges established by an Act of Congress.

“It is the highest honor I can think of,” Smith said in a press release. “Knowing Eleanor and working so closely with her makes the award particularly meaningful to me.

“We were a great team and achieved what many thought would never happen, when Congress decreed Protection Island a National Wildlife Refuge.”

Stopps died in 2012.

Smith was given the award in part for her work with Stopps, but the marine science center also recognized her for her campaign against the Northern Tier Pipeline, a proposed oil export terminal in Port Angeles.

“Smith helped mobilize an army of like-minded organizations and letter writers from the Olympic Peninsula and the greater Seattle area, and persistent grassroots opposition grew. A lawsuit to halt the pipeline on environmental grounds was undertaken and eventually the project was abandoned,” the science center said in the release.

As a volunteer for Seattle Audubon, Smith became interested in a dam proposed for the Skagit River system at Copper Creek. She recommended that Seattle Audubon register its opposition to the project because of its potential impacts on the river, salmon and bald eagles. A groundswell of opposition eventually halted the dam’s construction.

Smith served as the executive director of the nonprofit Western Wildlife Outreach, as a board member of the Washington Environmental Council and the Olympic Forest Coalition, and as a volunteer for Jefferson Land Trust and Jefferson County Conservation Futures Committee.

In 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Smith to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and she currently serves as a member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission.

Smith served as Snohomish County’s lead environmental supervisor from 1986-2007 and has previously received recognition from the Department of Fish and Wildlife for her service on its Non-game and Lands Advisory committees, Peninsula Daily News reported in 2021.

She also earned a national conservation award for her efforts to establish Protection Island as a National Wildlife Refuge.

In 2020, Smith unsuccessfully ran for Jefferson County Commissioner, District 2.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at psegall@soundpublishing.com.

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