skip to Main Content

Ralph W. Johnson Water Heroes

Ralph W Johnson

CELP’s founder, Professor Johnson, recognized that water belongs to all of us and that the Public Trust Doctrine should be used to protect this precious resource for humans, wildlife, and life itself. His scholarship in the Public Trust Doctrine has since provided the foundation for innumerable legal actions to protect each citizen’s right to clean water flowing in our rivers and streams. 

Professor Robert Anderson- 2020

Prof. Bob Anderson retired in 2020 as the Director of the Native American Law Center and law professor at the University of Washington. He is still the Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he teaches annually. Bob’s work embodies the connection between water law and Indian law and the vision of our founder. We honored him for his work with Tribes throughout Washington and the United States consulting on water and natural resource issues, his dedication as an educator, and his advocacy for Native American law students. Bob has been instrumental in protecting natural resources and tribal interests across the country.

Larry Wasserman2019

 A significant portion of his work has entailed advocacy for the protection of Tribal water rights and the protection of instream flows which benefit all citizens in the State of Washington. Larry has been instrumental in the Swinomish Tribe’s efforts to protect instream flows in the Skagit River, and he has been actively involved in the policies that protect fish habitat around the state.

Eric Hirst, Wendy Harris, Leigh Brakke, David Stalheim, Sara Foster

Sara Foster, Laura Leigh Brakke, David Stalheim, Eric Hirst, Wendy Harris – 2018

We recognized these five individuals for their activism and involvement in the Hirst and Foster cases brought before the Washington State Supreme Court, which ultimately resulted in improved protections and management of our state’s rivers and streams. In 2015, the Foster decision confirmed that the Department of Ecology, which is responsible for managing the state’s waters, cannot issue new water rights that will permanently deplete protected flows in rivers and may not use non-water environmental restoration projects as a basis for issuing water rights. In 2016, the Hirst decision reaffirmed that new wells may not impair more senior water users, including instream flows. These honorees started out as concerned citizens and fought for better water resource management for all of Washington.  These cases and their wins, though now effectively reversed due to a recent bill passed by the Washington State legislature, would not have been possible without the collective diligence and activism of Sara Foster, Laura Leigh Brakke, David Stalheim, Eric Hirst and Wendy Harris.

Dr. John Osborn with Pauline Terbasket, Executive Director of the Okanagan Nations Alliance.

Dr. John Osborn -2017

Dr. John Osborn is a legendary environmental leader of the Pacific Northwest, whose career as an advocate for the waters and forests of our region spans more than three decades. His current efforts include co-coordinating the Ethics & Treaty Project, which seeks to infuse principles of stewardship and justice into the re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. 

Professor William H Rodgers Jr. -2016

Professor Rodgers is recognized as a founder and one of the leading figures in U.S. Environmental Law. As an eye-witness to history, he participated in writing the nation’s environmental laws that ushered in the “environmental revolution” of the 1960’s and 70’s. His four volume treatise and hornbook on environmental law are foundational texts for law schools nationwide. He has educated thousands of passionate advocates for the environment. Professor Rodgers’ work has had immense impacts on water resource issues in Washington State.  He acted as lawyer and witness in the “smelter cases,” including the arsenic pollution of Tacoma and Puget Sound, and has represented Indian tribes and activists on numerous occasions. Professor Rodgers worked with attorneys including UW law professor Ralph Johnson, to protect Indian fishing rights (the Boldt decision), including representing the Puyallup Tribe’s treaty rights to salmon.

Upper Columbia United Tribes – 2015

The five Tribes of UCUT are the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho. Even while Canada and the United States continue to posture on modernizing the Columbia River Treaty, UCUT is moving forward with the first phase to return salmon home to ancestral spawning waters of the Upper Columbia.  We honored UCUT (and through them, the indigenous people of the Upper Columbia) for their leadership in restoring salmon and the river.  

Ann Aagaard -2014

Ann Aagaard was recognized for 40 years of citizen activism to protect state waters, lands, and communities.

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community -2013

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community was honored for its leadership protecting the Skagit River and instream flows throughout Washington.

Chairman Billy Frank Jr. accepting the award in 2012 on behalf of the NW Indian Fisheries Commission

NW Indian Fisheries Commission -2012

The NW Indian Fisheries Commission was honored for its work to promote the Boldt decision and restore salmon fisheries.

Russell Busch & Harriet Bullitt -2010-2011

Attorney Russ Busch was honored for his landmark advocacy to remove the Elwha River dams and restore salmon to its pristine ecosystems. Harriet Bullitt was recognized for her vision and efforts to restore Icicle Creek, including the removal of dams leading to the return of native salmon.

Mickey Gendler -2010

Mickey is a public interest environmental lawyer who has represented countless environmental groups and individuals to protect and restore Washington’s shorelines, waterways and natural resources.

Nancy Rust -2006

Rep. Nancy Rust was a Washington state legislator from 1983-1997 and was a member of the 1990 Steel Magnolias. She was honored as a strategic advocate for Washington’s water resources.

Benella Caminiti -2004

Citizen activist, Benella Caminiti, was a champion of the Public Trust Doctrine and protectress of public waters, shorelines, and parks. She was honored for her lifetime of service to Washington’s waters.

Rachael Osborn -2001

Public interest lawyer, Rachael Paschal Osborn, was honored as the co-founder of CELP.

Voices for Water

Winter Water Heroes, awarded by Upper Columbia River Group of Sierra Club.

Thomas O’Keefe of American Whitewaters, Peter Grubb of ROW Adventures, Sean Visintainer of Silver Bow Fly Shop, and Jon Wilmot of FLOW Adventures.

Deb Abrahamson

Chief James Allan, Chairman, Coeur d’Alene Tribe of Indians

Scotty Cornelius

Ken Hammond

Julian Powers & Jane Cunningham

Rich Landers

Ken Lustig

Stan Miller

Glen Nenema, Chairman, Kalispel Tribe of Indians

Buell & Donna Hollister

Richard Rivers

Rev. John Rosenberg

Allan Scholz

Bishop William Skylstad

Crystal Spicer & Janet Spicer

Karen Dorn Steele

Julie Titone

Mary Verner

Back To Top