North Texas environmentalists

Recipients of the Sierra Club's Lone Star Chapter Awards gather for a group photo on Saturday in Addison. Photo courtesy of John MacFarlane.

July 22, 2015

North Texas environmentalists were among 19 honored by Sierra Club Saturday at Texas’ Lone Star Chapter’s awards. Sierra members from around the state gathered in Addison to acknowledge efforts statewide from both 2013 and 2014.

Zac Trahan explains to the Dallas City Council in January why the city needs to ditch plastic bags. Dallas Morning News. 

Zac Trahan, DFW program director of Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Rita Beving of Alliance for a Clean Texas, garnered Special Service awards for efforts benefiting the environment.

“Zac worked with the Dallas Green Alliance, collaborated with Frack Free Denton, spearheaded the Dallas plastic bag ordinance and worked on Dallas’ fracking ordinance,” recounted presenter Russell Seals.  Seals noted that Dallas’ fracking ordinance is “one of the toughest in any U.S. city.”  T.C.E. collaborates with environmental groups across North Texas.

Rita Beving was recognized for organizing the Sierra Club's Earth, Wind and Fire Energy Conference. Below, Molly Rooke talks to the media.

Dallasite Rita Beving, a 20-year environmental veteran, drew a standing ovation for organizing last November’s Earth, Wind and Fire Energy Conference in Addison. The event hosted more than 200 speakers from a wide range of energy sectors and drew 200-plus attendees. Beving also lobbied for public and environmental health and safety issues on behalf of A.C.T. throughout the recent Texas Legislature session, representing A.C.T.’s 15 member organizations.  

“I wish Texas legislators came to the conference!” Beving quipped


Molly Rooke of Dallas and Fort Worth resident John MacFarlane received Chapter Conservation awards, which honor diligent work on a single issue or revitalization of Sierra conservation efforts, whether state or local.

MacFarlane’s focal issue with the Fort Worth group is a proposed plastic bag ban ordinance for the city, widely publicized and lobbied to City Council members. MacFarlane’s efforts went beyond organizing and education, according to fellow Fort Worthians. He boosted the effort with public appearances in a homemade “Bag Man” costume, distributing reusable cloth bags in TCU purple. 

John MacFarlane was honored for his work on a plastic bag ban campaign in Fort Worth.

“Five of nine council members are tentatively on board for the ban,” said MacFarlane. He also worked on gas drilling issues.

Rooke’s Chapter Conservation award recognized her more than 20 years’ service with the Dallas group. 

“In recent years, she kept a vigil on fracking,” noted presenter Dewayne Quertermous, a member of the Greater Fort Worth Sierra Club. “She represented Sierra Club on the North Central Texas Council of Governments. She has organized hundreds of media events.”

Rooke acknowledged hundreds if not thousands of volunteers who responded to countless calls and emails for action in hearings, citizen Lobby Days in Austin, City Council meetings and more.

Other honorees included Dallasite Liz Whelan, receiving the Virginia Murray Brewer Award for Outings. Outings in the natural world have been central to Sierra Club since its founding in 1892. Whelan’s honor recognized her leadership nationally and locally with Inner City Outings, which takes disadvantaged children and youth into the outdoors. Hers was one of three honors for service to Outings. 

Fourteen other awards spanned from environmental justice to political cartooning. Cyrus  Reed, Sierra Club’s environmental lobbyist, received the Chapter’s highest Orrin Bonney Award for 21 years’ work on a range of air and energy issues. The most notable recently was helping defeat proposed legislation to rollback Texas’ renewable energy standards.  

Other honorees include Peter Bella of San Antonio, previously with the Council of Governments (Special Service award); and the Harris County Attorney’s office and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (Environmental Justice).

Mary Kelly, Austin attorney, was honored with the Ken Kramer Living Waters Award for efforts such as helping to change Texas’ water management system. By establishing the state’s Environmental Flows program, adequate water flow is maintained for fish and wildlife.

Brantley Hargrove, a North Texas freelance writer, and Houstonite Wally James of Pacifica Radio were honored for Environmental Reporting. Pulitzer-Prize-winning Nick Anderson of the Houston Chronicle garnered Arts In Service honors for full-page cartoon stories revealing a decades-long dioxin pollution source in the Houston Ship Channel.

See complete list of winners.

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