Two Ashland residents honored by Sierra Club

Tom Dimitre, Kristin Biechler fought against the expansion at Mt. Ashland

By Hannah Guzik
Ashland Daily Tidings
July 25, 2009
Two Ashland residents who fought against Mt. Ashland’s expansion plans have received Oregon Sierra Club awards for their local conservation efforts.

Tom Dimitre, a planning commissioner, and Kristin Biechler were presented with the awards July 18 at the club’s annual barbecue in Portland.

Each knew the other person was to receive an award at the party and so they “conned each other into going,” never realizing they would both bring home honors, Biechler said Tuesday.

“I was totally surprised because I had already won the award once before,” she said, “but I have worked hard.”

Dimitre, chairman of the local Sierra Club chapter, the Rogue Group, received the nonprofit’s highest conservation award, the Charles Funk Award, for his environmental activism in the Valley over the past decade.

He was nominated by Bob Palzer, the chapter’s vice chairman, who received the award in 1997 for his work in preserving air quality.

“It’s quite an honor,” Dimitre said. “To me, it’s not just my award, though. It’s really the whole Rouge Group’s award.”

Palzer’s wife, Jody, created a framed collage of Mt. Ashland to give to Dimitre as part of the award.

The Rogue Group has been a vocal opponent of the ski area’s expansion goals, citing the environmental impact of the plan.

For now, Mt. Ashland’s plans are stalled as the ski area waits for the U.S. Forest Service to create a supplemental environmental impact statement.

On Saturday Dimitre honored her with the Rogue Group Award, given to an exemplary local chapter member.

“I nominated her because she is like a dynamo,” Dimitre said. “She’s totally indispensable and without her it would be more difficult.”

Biechler, who serves as the chapter’s treasurer, media chair and Webmaster, also received the award in 2004. She is currently working on creating a new Web site for the Rogue Group, she said.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or [email protected].

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