14 Apr

Gates to Receive Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership

Former MEC Boss Lana Pollack, Au Sable Defender Rusty Gates Earn Top Awards. Pair will be honored at Michigan Environmental Council’s April 30 Awards Celebration in Ann Arbor

Lansing, MI – Longtime Michigan Environmental Council President Lana Pollack has been named the 2009 recipient of Michigan’shighest environmental award and tenacious Au Sable River defender and fly fishing legend Rusty Gates will receive the Council’s citizen hero award.The pair will receive the honors at an April 30 celebration in Ann Arbor.

Pollack, of Ann Arbor, earned the Helen and William Milliken Distinguished Service Award for her tremendous impact on behalf of the environment during 12 years in the State Senate, 12 as president of the Michigan Environmental Council and numerous other endeavors, including membership on the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund Board.

She is responsible for groundbreaking environmental legislation including the “polluter pay”  law of 1990 and for building the Michigan Environmental Council into a formidable political force at the State Capitol during her tenure.

Pollack retired as the Council’s president on Dec. 31, 2008.

“Many of the state’s most important environmental victories in recent years can be traced back to Lana Pollack and the relationships and coalitions she has helped build,” said Michigan Environmental Council President Chris Kolb. “Her legacy speaks for itself, and it made this year’s Milliken Award a unanimous landslide vote by the selection committee.”

Gates, who lives near Grayling, will receive the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership, which is awarded to citizen activists whose defense of Michigan’s natural resources is marked by extraordinary courage, commitment and creativity.

Gates is owner of a fly fishing lodge and founder of Anglers of the Au Sable. He has spent a lifetime protecting the beloved Au Sable River that is both his passion and livelihood. Gates and the Anglers successfully won David-vs-Goliath battles against oil drilling companies, misguided government bureaucracies, and even fellow anglers in defense of the world class trout stream.

He was instrumental in establishing the revered “no-kill” flies-only regulations along a stretch of the river, a controversial crusade that earned him death threats. Most recently he spearheaded successful legal challenges that stopped oil and gas drilling on the fringe of the revered Mason Tract of wilderness and thwarted a plan to pump contaminated water into the headwaters of the Au Sable.

“Rusty Gates’ quiet humility and soft-spoken nature belie the giant strides he has made in defense of the Au Sable River Valley and its unique ecology and fishery,” said Kolb. “If there ever was a perfect fit for the ‘citizen hero’ nature of our Petoskey Prize, Rusty Gates is it.”
The Michigan Environmental Council is a coalition of 70 environmental, public health, and faith-based groups dedicated to the protection of the state’s natural resources and the public health and welfare that depends on a clean environment.

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Rusty – much congrats on the award, it is most deserved. Even though I live at the feet of six phenomenal rivers there is still no where I’d rather be then the Au Sable, and no one I feel more confident as a steward for the river my family loves so deeply.

Ron Weber


I learned from Dick McGlinn’s blog about your Petoskey award. I can’t imagine anyone who merited it more. Congratulations.


Paula Downey

Rusty, congratulations on the award. Thank you for your tireless pursuit of the protection of the Au Sable River and its Holy Water. Generations of our family owe many fond memories to you for your selfless work on behalf of this beloved river, and your friendship.


Congratulations Rusty Gates! You are a legend in our family.

David McGlinn


You are a man of grace and respect.
The grace comes from your determination to protect what was created by nature.
The respect comes from knowing deep in every mans heart, we all want to and need to be part of that nature.

“Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children”
– Kenyan Proverb

“Only to the white man was nature a ‘wilderness’.”
– Luther Standing Bear

Thank you for all you do Rusty and congratulations!

Michael Downey

Rusty, congratulations on your well deserved award. The extraordinary leadership and courage you have exhibited through many years is greatly appreciated by our entire family and will serve as an example for future generations. There is no finer gift.
Thank you.

Daniel McGlinn


A few of us McGlinns (yes, that is the correct spelling!) pursue the art of Zen fly fishing…we wade the river, feel the Au Sable push against our waders as our feet search for sure footing, get lost in the smell of the waters, muck, and pine, while we watch others catch fish…enjoying every moment.

From the Zen fishing contingency, a hearty thank you for your efforts to preserve one of the great treasures of Michigan. Thank you for allowing future generations to get lost in the waters of the Au Sable.

Best Regards,

Daniel McGlinn

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