Remembering Bunny Sterin

The RMS family lost a dear friend on August 29, 2021. Long-time RMS member, multiple chapter officer, unofficial photographer, and friend Bunny Sterin had to take a back seat to her courageous battle with lung cancer.

Bernice Sterin was born and raised in Swampscott, Massachusetts. She spent the majority of her thirty-five-year career working for the Bureau of Land Management. As a hydrologist in Price, Utah, she set up a thorough, thoughtful water quality program, which past RMS President Dennis Willis said has been unmatched since. While studying at the University of Idaho, she authored what was perhaps the first training framework for river managers. Later, as the National Conservation Lead for Utah BLM, she worked with the Wild and Scenic Rivers team to develop a hallmark set of Wild and Scenic Rivers training modules.

Bunny was an avid kayaker and rafter who ran the Grand Canyon five times on a personal permit, paddled in Patagonia, swam with humpback whales in Tonga, and watched the sunrise at the base of the Himalayas. She was also a skilled wildlife photographer who shot one of the rarest animals on the planet, a Spirit Bear, in British Columbia.

There has been no greater supporter of RMS than Bunny, from chairing the 1998 Symposium in Anchorage to representing her lead agency at the 2013 River Management workshop in Grand Junction. She held several positions of chapter leadership: Alaska Chapter President (1999-2001), Northwest Chapter Vice President (2003-2005), Southwest Chapter Secretary (2006-2007), and Southwest Chapter President (2008-2011). 

Recipient of the Contribution to the River Management Society award in 2007, Bunny continued to contribute to RMS as the go-to photographer for symposiums and workshops and a generous contributor to our biennial silent auction.  Just this past spring, she donated nearly two dozen personal jewelry items to the most successful-ever 2021 RMS Symposium auction.   We will always be thankful for her gifts of time that shouted commitment, care, talent, and a love of our nation’s spectacular rivers.

We hope you will read more about Bunny's life and legacy with recollections from her friends and family in the Fall 2021 RMS Journal. And please consider attending the Celebration of Life for Bunny on Friday, November 5, 2021 at  4 p.m. at Fitts Park in South Salt Lake. No flowers please, but if you'd like to make a donation to the Bunny Sterin Scholarship for River Management, here is the link. The scholarship benefits students who are pursuing a degree in river management.

Published Aug. 31, 2021

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