Tag: Explorers Club Washington Group

The 2015 ECWG Board of Directors

The 2015 ECWG Board of Directors

The photo below shows members of the Explorers Club Washington Group Board of Directors who attended the January 21 Board meeting in the National Geographic Society building in Washington.

The ECWG Web site Our Organization page lists the 2015 officers that the Board elected at this meeting. This page also lists all of the current members of the Board.

At desk, from left: Bruce Blanchard, treasurer, Jack Williams, chair, Bill Runyon, secretary, Lee Talbot; sanding from left; Cindy Steuart, Mike Manyak, Arnella Trent, Carole Baker, Lonnie Schorer, Tony Meunier, Betsy Steuart, Michael Wyrick, Polly Penhale, Jay Kaplan, 2011-2013 chair. Photo by Board Member Don Gerson
Blanchard to receive EC Sweeney Medal

Blanchard to receive EC Sweeney Medal

The Explorers Club will present one of its highest honors, the Edward C. Sweeney Medal, to Bruce Blanchard, MN ’78, at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner, on March 21, 2015 at the American Museum of Natural History, in New York City

Bruce Blanchard, photo by Don Gerson

Michael Manyak, MED 92, one of those who nominated Blanchard for the award, said: I am very happy for Bruce who really does deserve this honor.

“The reason we championed this for him was that he was a great example of someone who had done so much for a chapter (in this case, the largest outside NY HQ) and that those folks should also be in consideration for recognition.  We are very pleased that Bruce will be the first with that important background.  He has also contributed and represented us at a national level so it is not completely regional.”

Blanchard was elected to the ECWG Board of Directors in 1995 and was elected Treasurer in 1997, a position that he has been reelected to every year for the last 18 years.

After learning of the award Blanchard sent an email to the ECWG officers and Board members to  “…thank all of you (and your predecessors) for your support over the years. Without that support, my job as Treasurer wouldn’t have been possible. All of you contributed to my receiving this award.  Most recently, individual support from Mike Manyak, Jay Kaplan, Lee Talbot, and especially Alex Wallace was instrumental in this regard. Your obedient servant ! Bruce.”

The Medal is awarded annually to a Club member in recognition of distinguished service, scientific work and exploration. The nominee must have exhibited by word and action a profound interest in the welfare and principles of The Explorers Club.

ECWG members, guests at gala assured of exploration’s future

ECWG members, guests at gala assured of exploration’s future

Terry D. Garcia, MN 13, of the National  Geographic Society assured those at the Explorers Club Washington Group’s annual black tie dinner on Dec. 6, 2014 that that the world still offers much to explore.

ECWG members and guests at the annual black-tie dinner, Dec. 6, 2014. Photo by Jim Blair, FN 09

“There are still mysteries to be solved and discoveries to be made.  We have the scientific means to find them and the explorers to pursue them,” Garcia, who is Chief Science and Exploration Officer for the National Geographic Society, told approximately 100 attendees.

Scientific advances, such as the ability to extract and study DNA from long-dead plants and animals, including humans, are opening new doors to the past, he said.

He said these new discoveries are pushing the boundaries of human knowledge and endurance.

Terry Garcia

Garcia discussed the new frontiers beckoning explorers … from traditional archaeology, to deep ocean exploration, to the science of genetics and microbiology, to space.

Garcia’s dream expedition would be to find and explore the wreckage of Ernest Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, which has lain on the bottom of the Southern Ocean near Antarctica since it sank on Nov. 21, 1915 after being stuck in pack ice on Jan. 18, 1915 after being slowly crushed by the ice. Historians credit Shackleton’s leadership with ensuring that all 28 men on the expedition survived.

Finding and exploring the Endurance will be harder than the exploration of the Titanic becuse a heavy-duty icebreaker will be needed to reach the site.

Only Russia has such icebreakers and the current international situation works against being able to use a Russian icebreaker, he said.

Lee Talbot’s long association with Laos

Lee Talbot’s long association with Laos

Lee Talbot, Med 57, has had a long association with Laos, one of the 134 countries which he has visited for environmental issues. His first Laotian visit was in 1955 on an The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) conservation survey.

In the 1960s he visited Laos several times in connection with environmental assessments of proposed dams. Then, in 1966 he was appointed by the World Bank and the Lao Government to a three-man International Panel of Environmental and Social Experts (POE) for the proposed Nam Theun II (NT2) development project. POEs, which Lee has served on elsewhere in Asia and Africa, are created by the World Bank to provide independent advice and guidance on the environmental and social dimensions of major projects.

The NT2 project area extends from the Vietnam border on the crest of the Annamite Mountains with peaks over 8,000 feet elevation, down to under 600 feet elevation at the Mekong River on the border with Thailand.  The project includes a dam on the Nam Theun river creating a large shallow reservoir on the Nakai plateau at about 1,700 feet on the western foot of the Annamites; a hydro-power plant that empties the water from the turbines into a different river; the resettlement of about 5,000 villagers from the reservoir area; and multipurpose development for around 150,000 villagers down to the Mekong, involving such things as agriculture, fisheries, education, health, electricity, and banking.

On his first POE visit early in 1997 Lee found that the watershed for the proposed reservoir was virtually unknown.  Westerners had only visited a small part of the nearly Delaware-sized area.  Extending from the Nakai plateau up to the Annamites crest, the watershed was a densely forested roadless area so rugged that the Ho Chi Minh trails (carrying men and equipment from North Vietnam to the south during the Vietnam war) went around it rather than through it.  Driven in part by the need to gather information to conserve the area, and in part by the chance to explore a truly unknown area, Lee set out to explore it river basin by river basin.  Since 1997 at least one of his twice yearly visits to Laos has involved exploring part of the watershed, usually being dropped by helicopter at the top and walking and rafting down, or walking up river basins or escarpments that are too rugged for a helicopter drop.

Marty Talbot, FN 04 and 2013 Lowell Thomas Awardee, has visited Laos on several occasions, and joined Lee on rugged Flag expeditions to totally unexplored and unoccupied areas in 2007 and 2011.

The area is of globally important biological and cultural diversity with well over 400 species of birds, many animals including 5 species of larger mammals new to science within the past 20 years, abundant and little catalogued trees and other plants, including a new type of forest found by the Talbots, and some 5,000 scattered people representing over 10 ethnic groups, three of which are new to science.

Each visit Lee reports to the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Ministers with recommendations on the project as a whole, including conservation of the watershed.  The watershed now has protected status and a new government authority to conserve it.

Nov. 22, 2014 talk described recovery from Typhoon Haiyan

Nov. 22, 2014 talk described recovery from Typhoon Haiyan

Dr. Joyce Johnson, FN 03, discussed the July 2014 Flag Expedition to Tacloban, Philippines by her and her son, James A. Calderwood, Jr. , at the ECWG’s Cosmos Club dinner on Nov. 22. The talk, was a joint event with the Circumnavigators Club.

Johnson and Calderwood with the Explorers Club expedition flag

Tacloban was the area worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan on November 8, 2013. This typhoon was one of the strongest ever recorded. Its winds and storm surge killed more than 6,000 people.

A strong theme throughout her talk was the amazing resilience of the Philippine people.

Her primary focus was the Camotes Islands, though she also described what she and Calderwood saw in Tacloban. From these activities she gained an understanding of the impact the typhoon had on these The Flag Expedition documented the progress made since the typhoon hit.