By all accounts, this year's Vento award was a great success! Senator Harry Reid of Nevada received NPT's highest honor and shared a moving story about how his close friend, Bruce Vento, gave Senator Reid the idea to create Nevada's first National Park, the Great Basin National Park.
Senator Reid said, "I was a new member of the House of Representatives and [Bruce and I] were walking across Independence Avenue to vote and he said, "You're from Nevada, right?" And I said, "Yes, I'm from Nevada." And he said, "You should have a national park in Nevada. You don't have one... And every time I would see him in the next month or so, he kept talking to me about this."
After several years of town meetings and tours through Nevada with Vento and other legislative leaders, Senator Reid went on to say "I'll always remember Bruce Vento because...he gave me the idea to do our National Park and as a result of that we have this beautiful National Park."
In 1986, Senator Reid authored legislation that created Great Basin National Park. Currently, Reid is working to protect the Park from being polluted by a proposed coal plant and is striving to make Nevada the leader in renewable energy.
Senator Reid has always been a strong supporter of environmental protection and has fought for improvements to environmental laws, laws including the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Endangered Species Act.
In 2000, Reid helped pass the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which authorized $300 million over ten years for restoration efforts at the lake. Since coming to Congress, Reid has also been a major champion for the designation of wilderness. In his 25 years of service, Reid has been responsible for helping designate nearly 3.4 million acres of wilderness in Nevada.
The reception was attended by members of Congress and business leaders who share a common concern for the long-term, responsible stewardship of the earth's natural resources.
National Park Trust established the Bruce F. Vento Public Service Award in 2000 to honor the memory and legacy of Bruce Vento, a 12-term Member of Congress from Minnesota and former Chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forest, and Public Land. Congressman Vento passed more park legislation when he was chair of the committee than any other previous chairman. Each recipient of the Vento Award has expanded the nation's understanding of what it means to have a lifelong legacy and commitment to protecting America's heritage.
Since beginning the award in 2000, NPT has honored eight recipients for their commitment to the nation's National Parks and environment.
National Park Trust is grateful to many sponsors for making the NPT's Eighth Annual Vento Award possible. Proceeds of the event are used to fund NPT's current and future land projects.