Rick Coates

CONGRATS! — Blake Hooper, a field rep for Congressman Jared Huffman, presents Rick Coates, right, with a “Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition.” The certificate calls Coates “an environmental hero.”

Rick Coates, founder of the 24-year-old Sonoma County nonprofit Forest Unlimited, was honored for his forest and watershed protection career with awards sent by U.S. Congressman Jared Huffman and State Sen. Mike McGuire. The awards were presented at the Summer Dinner under the Redwoods on June 8.

A field rep for Huffman delivered a “Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented to Environmental Hero Rick Coates,” while McGuire’s office sent a special resolution in his honor.

With the assistance of his longtime board of directors and volunteers Carl Wahl and Bob Nelson, Coates has overseen the planting of approximately 33,000 redwoods and oaks. In addition, his organization has helped many individuals and groups navigate the system that regulates logging in Sonoma County watersheds.

“The list of services and accomplishments of Forest Unlimited under Coates’ leadership include stopping logging of the Grove of the Old Trees when little was known about forestry activities,” Board President Larry Hanson said. Rick and other forestry activists participated early on in saving Willow Creek, Jenner Headlands and many others forests.

Maybe the most important work Rick has done is to educate.

“He has trained and explained logging rules and impacts to hundreds and helped form watershed groups, which now better understand, care about and effectively protect their forests,” longtime Board Secretary Don Frank said.

Heather Rawson, who serves as board vice president, said, “Rick has been an inspiration and a role model.”

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