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Eden Prairie / Minnetonka, Minnesota
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Champion of Open Space Award
October 22, 2003

“CHAMPION OF OPEN SPACE” award conferred on Friends of Birch Island Woods by the McKnight Foundation

With Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens, Parks Director Bob Lambert, Council Member Jan Mosman, retired State Senator Ed Oliver, Friendship Ventures President Georgann Rumsey and others looking on, McKnight Foundation President Rip Rapson conferred the Champion of Open Space Award on the Friends of Birch Island Woods. The October 22nd proceedings occurred at the Eden Wood Lodge next to the Birch Island Woods. The Eden Prairie/Minnetonka conservation group formed in 1999 to protect public and privately-owned sections of the Birch Island Woods from development.

The Champions of Open Space awards are presented to individuals and groups who have made extraordinary contributions to open space protection in the seven-county Twin Cities area. It is part of the Embrace Open Space campaign, an initiative of 11 organizations concerned about preserving open spaces in the metro region Joining the ceremony were other open space protection leaders including Sharon Stephens of the Sierra Club, John Ward of the Friends of the Eagan Core Greenway (Eagan) and Patricia and Vernon Isaak of the Oaks Folks (Hopkins).

In a prepared statement Miss Stephens said, “It can be very difficult for a citizens’ action group to work within the land-use decision making process. However, the Friends of Birch Island Woods navigates its way with tremendous drive, determination and savvy as they make great strides to protect Minnesota’s natural and historical resources. They’ve gone far beyond the original scope of their project and continue to evolve new and ambitious, but achievable goals.”

On behalf of the FBIW, Jeff Strate thanked McKnight Foundation President Rip Rapson and the Embrace Open Space partners for the honor and pointed out FBIW volunteers in attendance.

Also on hand were Margaret Schuster- Director of Programming, Eden Wood Center, Les Ellis- Clean Air on the Prairie (Eden Prairie), Ann Theis- Minnesota Land Trust (St. Paul), Henry Crosby- Minnesota Land Trust (Jordan) and Gloria Strate (Edina).

Former State Representative Tom Workman (Chanhassen) and Minnetonka Mayor Karen Anderson who could not attend, had sent congratulations earlier.

For more on the Champion of Open Space Awards click here.

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