Compton Award

In 2001, to celebrate his dedication to conserving our nation’s rivers, River Network created an award in honor of James “Jim” Compton.

Jim was a remarkable man. Although he served as a decorated Marine Corps Platoon Leader at Iwo Jima, he worked all his life for world peace. Over the years, he emerged as one of the outstanding environmentalists in California and the United States. As President of the Compton Foundation, his commitment to river conservation led to the research and development of a new, long-term strategy to protect salmon; encouraged environmentally sound dam operations and deregulation incentives; and assisted local river and watershed groups across the country to achieve their restoration and protection goals through the powerful but under-used tool: The Clean Water Act of 1972.

Through his personal and professional contributions, Jim touched the lives of thousands of river activists and community members. Those whom we honor in his name display a similar amount of passion, respect and actions toward the protection of our rivers. Jim passed away in the spring of 2006; he will dearly be missed, but never forgotten.

2021 Compton Award Winner

Suzi Wilkins Berl

Suzi Wilkins Berl, River and Land Conservationist (Black Mountain, NC). Wilkins Berl has dedicated her life to river conservation, accumulating over 40 years of experience in the nonprofit conservation field. Most recently, she served as an independent consultant assisting land trusts and river groups throughout the Southeast with organizational development, strategic planning, board development, and fundraising. Wilkins Berl has worked as River Network’s Southeast Coordinator (2000–2005),… Read More

Dianne Dillon-Ridgley

Dianne Dillon–Ridgley, Environmentalist and Human Rights Activist (Iowa City, IA). A lifelong advocate for human rights, female empowerment, and sustainability, Dillon-Ridgley made her first foray into the environmental field as a college intern during the early days of the EPA. Since then, the Dallas native has traveled around the globe promoting women’s rights and fighting for… Read More

2020 Compton Award Winner

Daryl Vigil

Daryl Vigil – Co-Director, Water & Tribes in the Colorado River Basin. T. Daryl Vigil, Jicarilla Apache, Jemez Pueblo, Zia Pueblo, is the co-director of Water & Tribes in the Colorado River Basin and the Water Administrator for the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Chairman of Water is Life a Tribal Partnership; official spokesperson for and past… Read More

2019 Compton Award Winner

Mark Van Putten

Mark Van Putten, President and CEO, Wege Foundation; Grand Rapids, MI. Prior to his current position at the Wege Foundation, Van Putten served for over 20 years in various roles at the National Wildlife Federation, including President and CEO. Van Putten’s advocacy and litigation career focused on water-related issues at all levels of decision making… Read More

2018 Compton Award Winner

Lester Snow

Lester Snow, Executive Director of the California Water Foundation; Sacramento, California. Engaged in integrated resource management for more than 40 years, Snow implemented the Clean Water Act in Arizona in the late 70s and has supported efforts to remove four dams on the Klamath River. Founding director of the Water Foundation, in 2016 he was… Read More

2017 Compton Award Winner

Dave Archambault II

Dave Archambault II is the 45th Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. As the Tribe’s top elected official, Dave seeks to find innovative ways to improve the governance of the Tribe and the lives of its people. In 2014, Dave hosted the historic visit of President Obama and the First Lady to the Standing… Read More

2016 Compton Award Winner

Wilma Subra

Subra Company

Wilma Subra’s background includes more than 48 years of experience sampling and performing chemical and microbiologic analysis of groundwater, surface water resources, air and waste; as well as monitoring the environmental impacts of oil and gas drilling and production activities, oil and gas waste treatment and disposal practices, and associated human health impacts. Her current… Read More

2015 Compton Award Winner

Sandra Postel

Global Water Policy Project

Sandra Postel has been a thought leader her entire professional career. Her commitment to wise and efficient water use and her intelligent and remarkably cogent writing on the subject has helped shift societal perspectives on the challenge of managing water sustainably and opportunities to do better. Sandra currently directs the independent Global Water Policy Project and is a Freshwater Fellow… Read More

2014 Compton Award Winner

Rebecca Wodder

Rebecca Wodder is a nationally known environmental leader who has devoted her entire career to conservation causes, beginning with the first Earth Day in 1970. Most recently, she served at the U.S. Department of the Interior as Senior Advisor to Secretary Ken Salazar, advancing river and watershed conservation objectives, including President Obama’s initiative on America’s… Read More

2013 Compton Award Winner

Pat Munoz

Pat has been involved in nonprofit fundraising for over 30 years. From 1977 to 1993, Pat worked for American Rivers as Vice President for Development. At American Rivers, she focused on building that organization’s membership base, major donor program, foundation base, and workplace giving program. During her tenure there, she helped increase the budget from… Read More

2012 Compton Award Winner

Sally Bethea

Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper

Sally Bethea is the founding director and Riverkeeper for the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (UCR), a 5,500-member nonprofit, environmental advocacy organization established in 1994. For more than two decades she has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in her quest for clean and plentiful water in the Chattahoochee River Basin and throughout Georgia. The Chattahoochee River flows for about… Read More

2011 Compton Award Winner

Chris Brown

For over 30 years, Christopher (Chris) Brown has been a champion of our nation’s rivers. As the Conservation Director and Acting Executive Director with American Rivers, Chris led campaigns to protect over 1,000 river miles and secure $25 million in appropriations. He participated in coalitions to save the Penobscot, Tuolumne and Kings rivers and was… Read More

2010 Compton Award Winner

Brock Evans

Brock Evans’ impressive career as a leader in the environmental movement began in the mid-1960s. After earning his B.A. from Princeton, Brock spent two years in the U.S. Marine Corps and then earned his law degree at the University of Michigan while serving in the reserve of the Army Corps of Engineers. In 1963, Brock… Read More

2009 Compton Award Winner

Dr. Liane Russell

Liane Brauch (Lee) Russell has studied mammalian genetics for more than 45 years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Biology Division. Along with her late husband, Bill, Lee received the International Roentgen Medal. They both were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of only 11 couples so honored. In the mid-60s, Lee developed a… Read More

2008 Compton Award Winner

JoAnn Burkholder

Dr. JoAnn Burkholder, Professor of Applied Aquatic Ecology, NC State University (NC). Dr. Burkholder conducted ground-breaking research in the early 1990s which linked Pfiesteria to massive fish kills, nutrient pollution and human illness. Her findings resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in water quality improvements and additional scientific research for the Neuse River and… Read More

2007 Compton Award Winner

Russell Jim

Russell Jim serves as the head of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation’s Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program. Mr. Jim serves to protect and restore the environment and to cleanup the Hanford Nuclear site, while protecting the treaty rights of the Yakama Nation. Mr. Jim grew up in the Yakama… Read More

2006 Compton Award Winner

David Borden

David Borden has been active in the environmental community since 1978 when he helped to organize the Alaska Coalition. David was a trustee of the Clean Water Fund and River Watch Network prior to its merger with River Network. A dedicated conservationist, David has served on River Network’s board of directors since 1999, including a… Read More

2005 Compton Award Winner

Tom Stuart

Tom Stuart, a retired Air Force fi ghter pilot and Idaho Air National Guard colonel and fl ight instructor, decided he would spent his retirement working to protect the salmon and steelhead runs of the Salmon River. Working closely with Idaho Rivers United, Tom has become the heart and soul of the state-wide organization –… Read More

2004 Compton Award Winner

Shirley Caldwell Patterson

Shirley Caldwell-Patterson is a legend in the river conservation movement. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, she was raised with a deeply rooted respect for the rich history and natural resources of the area. After raising a son and a daughter, Shirley participated in archaelogical digs in Greece and Israel and traveled extensively. Shirley is a great… Read More

2003 Compton Award Winner

Harriet Bullitt

Harriet Bullitt has truly earned this lifetime river achievement award. Over the years, she has provided substantial financial support to countless environmental and conservation groups to protect and restore rivers and watersheds throughout the Pacific Northwest. In the 1990s, she founded the Friends of Icicle Creek, committed to protecting this pristine river located in the… Read More

2002 Compton Award Winner

Phil Wallin

For more than 20 years, Phil Wallin has developed creative solutions to permanently protect significant stretches of threatened riverlands, in the process helping create the nation’s leading grassroots river conservation service and support network. As Director of the Western Rivers Conservancy, Phil will continue working to preserve entire watershed ecosystems in the Western United States…. Read More