In her 22-year career with the U.S. Forest Service, Gloria Flora became nationally known both for her leadership in ecosystem management and for her courageous principled stands. When she was in charge of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in north-central Montana, she made a landmark decision to prohibit natural gas wells along the spectacular 356,000-acre Rocky Mountain Front near the Bob Marshall Wilderness, a place often described as an American Serengeti for its abundant populations of elk, deer, grizzly bears, and fish-filled streams. The oil and gas industry appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, but she was ultimately victorious when, on the same day the story of her struggle was being televised nationally on PBS' "NOW with Bill Moyers," the Department of Interior announced a decision reached "at the highest levels" not to approve drilling along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front.
In 2000, she made national headlines again when she resigned as Forest Supervisor for the largest national forest in the lower 48 states - the Humboldt-Toiyabe in Nevada and eastern California - to call attention to antigovernment zealots engaged in the harassment and intimidation of Forest Service employees. "Gloria Flora deserves to be held up as an American hero," said Chris Wood, senior policy adviser to then Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck. For her courageous stewardship of public lands, she received the Murie Award from the Wilderness Society, the Environmental Quality Award for exemplary resource decision-making from the Natural Resources Council of America, and the Environmental Hero Award from Sunset Magazine. In 2004, she was selected as one of the nation's top environmentalists by Vanity Fair Magazine.
Today Flora is the Director of Sustainable Obtainable Solutions, a nonprofit dedicated to the sustainability of public lands and of the plants, animals and communities that depend on them. She speaks on ecosystem stewardship, forest and public land sustainability, people's relationships to landscapes - cultural, historical, social, and psychological, and on the critical role of leadership that strives to make a difference.
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