For “the positive things he has brought to the bi-state region of Indiana and Illinois” Paul Labus, program director for Northwest Indiana, received on May 14, 2013 a Regional Conservation Leadership Award during the Calumet Summit, which was organized by the Calumet Stewardship Initiative. Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes, with assistance from Dennis Rittenmeyer of One Region, made the following comments about Paul during the luncheon presentation:
"Sit down for a coffee (which he loves) with Paul Labus and he may just tell you what he has told many of us: “All I want to do is leave things better than I found them.” Such a simple, wonderful, principled credo is something we should all follow every day. It’s such a typical statement made by this hard-working awardee, who has been making a difference on the conservation landscape of Northwest Indiana for nearly 19 years with The Nature Conservancy,’ said Barker.
Barker also stated that “Paul knows our conservation landscape so well in the Calumet area that if you gave him a description of a transect in the Dune and Swale complex, he could probably give you a pretty good approximation of where it is. He knows how to get things done – knows how to assess the landscape – and just gets it done without making a big deal of it. Whether it’s participating in land-use planning projects, creating comprehensive conservation plans, serving on advisory boards or making sure restoration priorities are planned for and implemented during GLRI projects or in concert with Legacy Act clean up on the Grand Calumet River, he is a quiet, thoughtful, driving force behind what is being done.”
Literally thousands of Karner Blue butterflies have Paul to thank for taking a leadership role in making sure they have good, functioning habitat in which to live. And while The Conservancy may not hold large amounts of acreage in the Calumet area, all of the area conservation entities have him to thank for helping them meet their own conservation goals through his trusted advice and knowledge. Thousands of acres are now protected for future generations of wildlife and humans as a result of his efforts.
After learning of the award, his boss, Larry Clemens, said it best: “He is recognized for his dedication to the most biologically rich area of the entire state of Indiana, and he has utilized a combination of proven conservation techniques with good, old-fashioned street smarts to create one of the best examples of conservation in an urban and industrial environment, bringing together a variety of people to make it happen.”
The Calumet Stewardship Initiative, a coalition of more than 40 organizations facilitated by Chicago’s Field Museum, promotes sustainable relationships between people and nature in what is known as the “Calumet Region” that includes Northwest Indiana and portions of Northeast Illinois.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.