GYC celebrates 35 years of conservation work

Tucked back in the woods next to the Gallatin River, we celebrated 35 years of protecting the land, water, and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and honored two local advocates, Diane Bristol and Dale Sexton, who have been instrumental in local conservation.

 Attendees mingling at the GYC 35th Anniversary Celebration. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

Attendees mingling at the GYC 35th Anniversary Celebration. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

Attendees to the event included staff, board members, donors, community members, former board and staff, and activists for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  We were honored that conservation philanthropist and media mogul Ted Turner and former Montana Senator Max Baucus were also able to make appearances.  GYC was also able to raise over $45,000 from table sponsorships, silent auction items, and event tickets.

 Charles Wolf Drimal of GYC (right) gives Dale Sexton the Grassroots Activism Award. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

Charles Wolf Drimal of GYC (right) gives Dale Sexton the Grassroots Activism Award. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

At our event, we were proud to bestow the Grassroots Activism Award to Dale Sexton for his tireless work in advocating for our rivers and streams and fighting the potential gold mines in Paradise Valley.  The Grassroots Activism Award acknowledges and honors an outstanding activist group or individual who successfully initiates and leads a grassroots campaign on an issue affecting the integrity of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

The owner of Timber Trails, an outdoor equipment shop in Livingston, Montana, Dale has been a longtime friend of GYC.  He understands the importance of collaboration in the world of conservation and has been a vital member of the Wilderness Recreation Partnership, the board chairman of the Gallatin Community Collaborative, and a founding member of the Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition.  Dale’s even taken his passion to Washington D.C. to lobby for the reauthorization of the Land Water and Conservation Fund.  As a fly fishing guide on the Yellowstone, Dale has a special love for protecting the waterways of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.  A longtime business supporter of the Wild Rivers Film Tour, a film event that tours Montana while promoting river conservation, Dale has been working with Montanans for Healthy Rivers to help designate the upper Yellowstone as a Wild & Scenic River.  In his free time, you can find him skiing off summits in the Absaroka and Crazy Mountains, conducting river shuttles with his mountain bike, adventuring with his two daughters, and raising tens of thousands of dollars for the local food bank.  Thank you, Dale, for all that you do for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem!

 Joe Josephson of GYC presents Diane Bristol with the Outstanding Member Organization or Business Award. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

Joe Josephson of GYC presents Diane Bristol with the Outstanding Member Organization or Business Award. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

Our second honoree of the night was Diane Bristol, who received the Outstanding Member Organization or Business Award.  This award recognizes the outstanding work and accomplishments of a business or organization demonstrating efforts to protect the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the unique quality of life it sustains.

As the Senior Director of Employee & Community Engagement for Simms Fishing Products, Diane is responsible for identifying and managing Simms conservation and community initiatives.  In her 25 years of marketing roles at Simms, the company has won numerous product and advertising awards in national branding magazines. Her support for conservation entities includes GYC, Yellowstone Gateway Business Coalition, the Open Lands Levy, and the YES for Responsible Mining Initiative 186. When former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the two-year “time-out” on mining in Paradise Valley, Diane shared the podium with Secretary Jewell, Montana Senator Jon Tester, and Montana Governor Steve Bullock.  Diane’s passion for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem stems far past her career.  An avid fly fisher, she has served on the board for the American Fly Fishing Trade Association and the International Fly Fishers, and in 2014, she was the first woman to the join the Board of Directors of Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation.  Currently, she is a part of their Executive Committee.  Diane and her husband Bruce have been Montana residents for 27 years, and have one son who is currently enrolled at Montana State University.  When she’s not in the Simms office, you can find her out in nature with a fly rod in hand and enjoying MSU football games.  Thank you, Diane, for your enduring support of GYC and the area we call home!

 A print from photographer Ronan Donovan was included in the silent auction items. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

A print from photographer Ronan Donovan was included in the silent auction items. (Photo courtesy GYC.)

An enormous amount of gratitude goes out to our Development team for putting this wonderful celebration together.  And thank you to YOU for all of your support during these fantastic 35 years and beyond!

--Caroline Byrd, Executive Director