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ELKADER — Freelance writer, photographer and lecturer Larry Stone of rural Elkader has received the 2016 Jade of Chiefs Award in recognition of his efforts to protect and improve the natural environment and to increase understanding and appreciation of it.
“He deserves it. He’s always there. He’s lived a lifetime of conservation work,” said bird researcher Jon Stravers of McGregor, who co-wrote two books with Stone.
Stone, a member of the Clayton County Conservation Board for the past 12 years, is the third Iowan to receive the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s top conservation award.
Stone follows Mapleton native Arthur Carhart, a U.S. Forest Service official noted for his wilderness protection efforts, who received the inaugural ward in 1958, and Rich Patterson, the recently retired director of the Indian Creek Nature Center, who received the honor in 2002.
For 25 years as an outdoor reporter for the Des Moines Register and for the last 19 years as a freelance writer, “Larry Stone championed clean water, good fishing, beautiful landscapes and enhanced wildlife habitat,” said Patterson, who nominated Stone for the award.
Although only association members are eligible, it is not actually presented by the organization but by past award winners, who are known as the Circle of Chiefs.
Patterson said Stone has been “courageous in voicing the truth in a state and region where agribusiness dominates politics and finance.”
Stone said he knew nothing of the award until his name was called to receive it July 18 at the association’s annual meeting in Billings, Mont. “I was flabbergasted. I almost fell out of my chair,” he said.
Stone’s career came to a crossroads in 1997 when the Register gave him his choice — move closer to Des Moines or find another job.
He said he chose peace of mind over financial reward and opted for his home overlooking the Turkey River near the historic hamlet of Motor.
“He proved his love for the driftless area,” Stravers said.
Stone’s writings include five books: “Gladys Black: The Legacy of Iowa’s Bird Lady” and “Sylvan T. Runkel, Citizen of the Natural World,” both co-written with Stravers; “Whitetail: Treasure, Trophy or Trouble?” and “Iowa: Portrait of the Land,” both commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources; and “Listen to the Land,” a compilation of nature and outdoor columns from the author’s tenure as Des Moines Register outdoor writer.
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