Tags:Western North Carolina Alliance congratulates D.J. Gerken as winner of the 2011 Esther Cunningham Award.
As an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, Gerken has helped end abuse of the Tellico River, one of the most important native brook trout streams in the South, by forcing the U.S. Forest Service to follow its own water quality regulations, as well as the Clean Water Act.
Gerken also took on the Tiger Woods-designed golf course at The Cliffs at High Carolina in Asheville to reduce construction impact on trout streams. He is currently fighting to continue the cleanup of the Pigeon River by challenging the wastewater discharge permit issued to the Blue Ridge paper plant in Canton.
Gerken has been a key player in fighting outsized transportation projects in our region, including Corridor K in Graham County and Interstate 26 in Asheville. He has also put his planning degree to work by drafting steep slope and subdivision ordinances and has worked behind the scenes with local government officials to get those ordinances passed. He has spearheaded state legislation on steep slope development and helped create the Mountain Resources Commission.
Gerken started his career with SELC after attending Davidson College and the University of Virginia. In 2004, he came to Asheville to work for SELC. Gerken is the Western North Carolina Alliance attorney, and he serves on its board.
About the Esther Cunningham Award: The Western North Carolina Alliance presents the award annually in the name of Esther Cunningham, a Macon County resident whose concern for the WNC environment prompted her to found the Western North Carolina Alliance, a partnership of nonprofit and community groups, government agencies and private businesses working to devise strategies to improve the quality of development and preserve the unique rural character of WNC.
About the Western North Carolina Alliance:
For almost 30 years, the Western North Carolina Alliance has been a trusted community partner, marshalling grassroots support to keep our forests healthy, our air and water clean, and our communities vibrant. Utilizing a combination of policy advocacy, scientific research, and community collaboration, the Alliance and its chapters throughout Western NC unleash the power of citizens’ voices to protect the natural heritage of our region so that people and the environment can thrive. For more information please visit www.wnca.org.