The Olaus Murie award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions and displayed strong leadership in the non-profit or public sector toward building a more influential Alaska conservation movement.
“Alaska is blessed with so many outstanding conservation professionals it is tough to single out the best of the best but Tim Bristol truly qualifies. His dedication to the movement and his organizational brilliance set an incredibly high standard for all of us to follow,” said Peg Tileston, chairperson of the awards committee.
Tileston has been active in the environmental movement since arriving in Alaska in 1972, having served on many boards including the Alaska Conservation Foundation, Alaska Conservation Alliance and Alaska Conservation Voters. She has known Bristol and observed his work for some two decades.
Bristol arrived in Alaska more than 20 years ago and initially worked the slime line in a Ketchikan salmon cannery. After college, he returned to Alaska and began his environmental career as a grassroots organizer for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council at the height of the Tongass National Forest timber wars.
“At the time Tim started working to preserve the Tongass, industrial scale logging was well beyond sustainable levels and hundreds of thousands of acres of old growth forest had already been clearcut and turned into dissolving pulp or shipped unprocessed overseas. Meanwhile, the Alaska Congressional Delegation was pushing for more roads to access this forest and more clearcutting. In an effort to come up with more sustainable economic alternatives to large-scale logging in the Tongass, fishermen, independent loggers, conservationists, and tourism operators came together to shepherd through a new management plan for the forest – one far more protective of fish, wildlife and local jobs,” according the Alaska Conservation Foundation award announcement.
This further solidified Bristol’s belief that “unless your effort is powered by people, nothing will change. You need to listen to other’s opinions and needs” to get to answers to tough issues, the announcement stated.
As the Alaska director of Trout Unlimited – the nation’s oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds – Bristol focuses primarily on the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska and Bristol Bay in the Southwestern part of the state.
In the Tongass, his goal is to gain permanent protection of nearly 2 million acres of prime salmon and trout habitat that remains open to development activities that can harm fish. In Bristol Bay, Bristol’s team is leading efforts to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon run from the proposed Pebble mine.
Bristol said he hopes that more Alaskans will be engaged in ensuring “this incredible place is zoned properly with an eye towards future generations.”
Congratulations to one of Alaska’s most inspiring and influential conservation leaders on a well-deserved honor.