Paul Braun of Morganton, who received the Nancy Susan Reynolds Award for Advocacy, has devoted most of the last eight years to saving Lake James, which was developed by Duke Energy, from uncontrolled development. It is located in the North Carolina foothills and is considered one of the most beautiful and pristine lakes in the eastern United States. But eight years ago Braun spotted a bald eagle at Lake James and that caused him to reflect on the importance Lake James has as a natural resource.
Without any background in leading a public campaign, Braun decided it was up to him to “save Lake James.” He began writing letters to the editor and circulating petitions. At times his campaign, which pitted him against corporate interests, was contentious and costly. His fight proved victorious, as he brought divergent and often opposing groups together to protect 9,000 acres of land around the lake.