Celebrating a lifetime of conservation

Written by: Jennifer Scott, National Communications Manager

Last week, the CPAWS National Board of Trustees, members of the CPAWS conservation award committee and invited guests, gathered in Ottawa to celebrate all that Cliff White has done for conservation in Canada over his nearly four decade-long career in promoting sophisticated ecological thinking within Parks Canada and in the management of Banff, the Mountain Parks and beyond.

From the outset, when he hired on as a Park Warden in Banff he exemplified the concept of ecosystem management. Cliff began to unravel the ecological puzzle of the state of Banff’s ecosystem, its ecological history and how to begin to restore it.

Cliff comprehended the complex interactions between ungulate populations, conditions of aspen and willow, beaver populations, wolves, fire and aboriginal management. His work confirmed that Banff’s large populations of elk were eliminating aspen and willow and with them beaver, songbirds and moose. The ecosystem was askew.

Cliff fought with those who did not see the big picture and the kinds of radical changes that needed to happen in fire management, elk management and bison reintroduction. The door to his office sported a sign through these times “job description for a civil servant: tell the truth and obey the law”.

Cliff took his ideas into practical solutions on the landscape. He established multi-agency partnerships with provincial, First Nations or municipal matters. Cliff disregarded the naysayers and, as a testament to his commitment, these partnerships continue to this day.

It is for all these, and many more reasons, that CPAWS chose to recognize Cliff and his life’s work.

Please share with us in evening’s events through these photos.