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Conservation District director earns EPA Environmental Achievement Award

Release Date: 6/9/2003
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      Denver – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Administrator Robert Roberts, will present Angela Ehlers, executive director, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, with EPA’s 2003 Environmental Achievement Award at 9:15 a.m. tomorrow, June 10 at the DENR Foss Building, Pierre, S.D.

      Angela Ehlers with EPA Regional Administrator Robbie Roberts

U.S. EPA Region 8 Administrator Robert Roberts presents Angela Ehlers, executive director, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts, with EPA’s 2003 Environmental Achievement Award on June 10 at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources Foss Building, Pierre, S.D.

Ehlers is receiving the award for her in leadership in SDACD’s efforts to reduce nonpoint source water pollution in South Dakota.

When the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources began its watershed - nonpoint source program in December 1987, SDACD was the first non-governmental agency to step forward with assistance. The association was instrumental in bringing inclusion to the Nonpoint Source Task Force, urging membership for various agricultural producer groups, and in establishing proper contacts among community stakeholders. SDACD educated DENR staff and significantly eased early partnering attempts. Today, the association continues making positive impacts on DENR’s watershed program.

Ehlers has been an effective member of the nonpoint source task force’s information and education steering committee. That committee has completed several nonpoint source information and education projects and has been key in initiating and continuing water festivals in South Dakota.

Under Ehlers’ leadership, SDACD has served as a key member of the multi-agency agriculture-industry nutrient management outreach project team. That team is responsible for the award-winning manure management for profit and the environmental exhibit developed and used at DakotaFest at numerous trade shows and exhibitions.

DENR receives significant support from SDACD in its assessment and implementation projects. The association helps find sponsors, contractors, equipment and office space. In the case of the Grassland Management and Planning Project, SDACD has provided administrative and personnel management services for the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition.

The association has provided leadership for initiating Bootstraps for several years. The Bootstraps project has provided holistic resource management opportunities to nearly 260 operations that manage more than 1.2 million acres under their leadership. The total since the project’s inception is 385 families managing more than 1.5 million acres.

In addition to assisting with nonpoint source projects, SDACD has sponsored innovative projects. The association is the sponsor of the South Dakota Animal Waste Management Team, which provides planning, comprehensive nutrient management and engineering design services as well as information and education services throughout eastern South Dakota from two main offices. It also sponsors the Buffer Sales Team, which recently wrote 280 buffer plans and implemented 661,557 feet of buffers in high priority stream segments in eastern South Dakota and provided assistance to 19 watershed projects.

DENR is initiating another innovative project sponsored by SDACD, this one a $28 million project that will place nine specialists across the state to plan and fund strategic best management practices in 24 watersheds. This is a cooperative project between SDACD, DENR, East Dakota Water Development District, City of Sioux Falls, and many conservation districts. Such cooperation provides greater efficiency than a series of individual local projects while still accommodating local interests and guidance.

The Regional Administrator presents awards in four external award categories to individuals and groups external to the Region Office. This award recognizes significant achievements in protection of public health or the environment, or in advancing the Agency’s current strategic goals. Among the criteria is an outstanding contribution to environmental protection through a single action, or by an ongoing action over an appreciable period of time.