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Release Date: 04/25/1997
Contact Information: Kathleen Bogie, (617) 918-1976

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized 38 New England environmental champions, including 18 from Massachusetts, with Environmental Merit Awards during an Earth Day celebration today at Faneuil Hall in Boston.

"New Englanders have a long tradition of being acutely aware of their environment and taking action to protect it. We are pleased to honor just a few of those that truly deserve recognition for their actions," said EPA Regional Administrator John P. DeVillars. " The winners, in fact all of the nominees, set an example for all of us to follow."

The Merit Awards, presented annually since 1970, recognize demonstrated commitment and significant contributions to the environment. The winners were selected from more than 100 nominees received this year from businesses, media, local and state government officials, environmental organizations, and citizen activists.

The Massachusetts winners and basis for recognition are:

Rita Barron first sat on the Board of the Charles River Watershed Association in 1967 and served as Executive Director from 1973 to 1988. During her tenure, tremendous positive changes to the Charles River occurred. Once considered a public nuisance, the river is now one of the regions premier recreational resources. Her work was crucial to the implementation of 1972 Clean Water Act mandates, and she played a key role in developing the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Project, which preserved more than 8,000 acres of wetlands flood protection rather than building a new dam. Additionally, Ms. Baron has served on a number of important advisory commissions and committees, including the Massachusetts Water Resources Commission. She has received many awards for her work from the United Nations, EPA, Massachusetts Audubon, Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Walter Bickford is being recognized for his lifetime environmental efforts, most recently exemplified by his work on behalf of Malden Mills as it rebuilds its Massachusetts facility. As Director of Environment, Health, and Safety, he organized labor and management teams around the reduction of waste production at its source, focusing on pollution prevention rather than its management once generated. In a ground-breaking effort to incorporate pollution prevention in the design of a workplace of this scale, he developed an environmental checklist to help minimize raw material byproducts. He also pioneered Malden Mills environmental protection partnering efforts. Additionally, Mr. Bickford serves as Director of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition and has been instrumental in developing an approach to water resources protection that focuses on watersheds. His vision of watershed protection now guides all Massachusetts environmental agencies, including EPAs development of watershed protection plans.

As Director of the Boston Natural Areas Fund, Valerie Burns has given her time and effort tirelessly for the betterment of East Boston and its residents. Through her leadership, coordination, and involvement in the Greenway project, a community dream is becoming a reality. The Greenway project is a prototype for the nation in connecting the various harbor parks in the community with a greenway linkage and dealing with a myriad of governmental agencies and community interests. Ms. Burns has a long history of assisting the community in developing several community gardens, and her accomplishments for the Greenway project have helped to build a sense of pride and unity in the East Boston community.

George Costa is being recognized for his outstanding efforts to make the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge a reality. Mr. Costa initiated and guided the process by which the refuge was created. Through his personal initiative and caring for Cape Cod and his home of Mashpee, he not only launched, but has seen through to fruition, a massive cooperative effort that has led to ground-breaking public policy at the federal, state, and local levels to bring the Cape its newest federal Wildlife Refuge. Through this grassroots process, a national model has been created, which is currently being used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create refuges in other parts of the country, and one of the most beautiful and important open space resources on Cape Cod has been preserved. Mr. Costas creativity and perseverance were indispensable to the creation of the refuge.

Irene Gillis is Chair of the Restore Olmsteads Waterway (ROW) Coalition and has worked hard to draw public and government attention to Muddy River issues. The Muddy River, which originates at Jamaica Pond and flows for 3.5 miles through the Emerald Necklace and Back Bay until it reaches its confluence with the Charles River, is highly polluted from illegal connection to storm drains and storm water discharges. Ms. Gillis is in many ways the heart and soul of ROW. She is action-oriented and asks the tough questions. Through her leadership, ROWs advocacy has encouraged federal agencies to focus on Muddy River issues. ROW pulled together citizen activists, public health professionals, environmental officials, and politicians for a highly successful conference at the Harvard School of Public Health to establish a link between river pollution and public health. Ms. Gillis is a true environmental leader.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Russ Lopez, the Environmental Diversity Forum (EDF) has created a number of new opportunities for communities to address urgent environmental issues. Through its program "Neighborhoods Against Urban Pollution," EDF provides an opportunity for communities to express their concerns about the environmental impacts of projects, and to address them through pollution prevention and toxic use reduction techniques. Through Mr. Lopez expert direction, EDF has significantly increased the diversity of representation in public discussion of environmental issues, including national air pollution standards, solid and hazardous wastes management, and the promotion of environmental business and pollution prevention practice.

Kerry Mackin, Director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, is recognized for her outstanding accomplishments in water conservation education and her work on water supply issues in the Ipswich River Watershed. She developed a novel approach to educate municipal officials within the watershed, which included a tour of the river for all conservation commission members and other municipal officials from all the towns within the watershed. There were stops along the way where one or more key speakers discussed local effects on the river. Ms. Mackins unique approach allowed municipal decision-makers to see firsthand the connection among disparate towns, while learning about the watershed and its needs. Her creativity and hard work will result in more careful decisions to protect and preserve this valuable resource for future generations.

Damon Reed is one of six appointed members of the North River Commission and past president of the North South River Watershed Association (NSRWA). A life-long resident of Norwell, he appreciates the ecological, aesthetic, and economic benefits afforded by a healthy North River. Mr. Reed is a leading voice in promoting sound stewardship for one of the south shores most scenic and treasured natural and recreational areas. His efforts have resulted in the re-opening of 164 acres of shellfish habitat and increased attention to the high levels of fecal coliform pollution in the North River. Through countless personal investigations and a helpful tip, he discovered what had come to be known as the "mystery pipe"--the culprit responsible for much of the fecal coliform pollution. Additionally, Damon Reed was a force behind the NSRWA suit against the town of Scituate, which led to an agreement by the town to redesign its wastewater treatment plan. Last month, Scituate residents showed their support for Damons hard work, voting in favor of a proposition 2 override and appropriation of $15 million for infiltration and inflow removal, reconstruction, and upgrading of the treatment plant.

Charles Roth, recognized as one of the most dedicated, informed, and well-respected individuals in the field of environmental education, is a leader in promoting environmental literacy both in New England and nationally. His keen knowledge of environmental education is based on years as an educator, writer, textbook editor, and program director in environmentally-related subject areas. Mr. Roth has been an adjunct professor of environmental education at UMASS and at Antioch-New England. Additionally, he served for many years as director of education for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and as Chair of the Secretarys Advisory Group on Environmental Education.

Doug Wheaton has led Massports effort to leverage more than $1 million in resources to implement a comprehensive alternative fuel vehicle program at Logan Airport. Using a combination of federal, state, and private funding, Massport has installed the infrastructure for compressed natural gas and electric vehicle refueling/recharging. Under Mr. Wheatons leadership, Massport has taken the lead on testing different technologies and fuels, and is actively promoting the widespread use of clean fuel vehicles at the airport. Additionally, Doug Wheaton served as a key member of EPAs Clean Air Partners Program and was instrumental in facilitating the development of key pieces of the public outreach campaign.

Environmental, Community or Non-Profit Organization Award Category

Cape Cod Process Action Team:
Joel Feigenbaum, James Kinney, Richard Hugus, Susan Walker

Many citizens give time to local issues supporting a cause. Few give with such dedication and perseverance as Joel Feigenbaum, Richard Hugus, James Kinney and Susan Walker, whose actions undertaken to clean up contamination at the Massachusetts Military Reservation are done to benefit the Upper Capes citizens and environment. They represent the best of citizen activism, with countless hours given over many years reviewing documents, attending and speaking out at meetings, and keeping their communities informed and up to date on various aspects of the MMR cleanup. Their involvement as advisors to and members of the citizen-based Joint Process Action Team has contributed positively to the cleanup progress now moving forward.
Forthree decades, the
Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) has been the chief defender of one of the most widely-used urban water bodies in the world. With over 2,500 members, the CRWAs clear, strong voice is critical in ensuring that environmental problems in the Charles River are addressed and resolved. The CRWA has reinvented the role of a citizen's environmental group and has become active in furthering scientific understanding of the river. Additionally, the CRWA has played a key role in identifying environmental problems in the river and bringing them to the attention of environmental regulators. The CRWA has developed good working relationships with communities that line the river and has helped make both local governments and the public more aware of environmental responsibilities and the benefits of a clean Charles River.

The Fore River Watershed Association (FRWA) has established a reputation as a strong advocate for urban river stewardship in the communities of Quincy, Braintree, and Weymouth. The FRWA has made possible expanded watershed monitoring, strengthened ties with local communities and government, and broadened community educational efforts. The association has been a major influence on transportation and infrastructure improvements impacting the watershed by working on prevention and mitigation plans with the MBTA and on sewer overflow impacts with the Massachusetts Water Resources Association. Additionally, the FRWA continues to work with Fore River Shipyard officials to ensure that pollution prevention practices are employed as the facility moves closer to re-opening. The FRWA has taken a leadership role in coordinating a multi-town effort to protect and restore the Fore River Watershed that will have lasting effects on the revitalization of the Fore River basin.

The Recycling Committee in Leicester views recycling as a technique not only to cut trash bills, but to conserve resources. What makes the program especially successful and special is that it also views recycling as an ideal way to boost community pride, foster collaboration, and promote ingenuity. Leicesters Recycling Program is an outstanding example of partnerships and community involvement. Local business and civic groups rally behind recycling and the programs 40 volunteers.

The program operates at no cost to the town and includes several innovative collections in addition toglass and plastics. For example, surplus paint is collected and used to cover up graffiti; books of all types are swapped by residents; reusable magazines go to hospitals; hearing aids, crutches, cribs and eyeglasses are among the countless items routed to the needy across town or across the world; and blankets and sheets are collected, cleaned, and redistributed to local families. The Leicester Recycling Program has received top grades as one of the best municipal recycling programs in the state.

Logan Advisory Committee:
Bernice Mader, Chair Community Advisory Committee to Massport
Anastasia Lyman, Chair, Runway 27 Coalition

Ms. Mader and Ms. Lyman have been exemplary community leaders in organizing and implementing community input to numerous Logan International Airport development projects and air traffic control procedures. Ms. Mader has undertaken a huge task in organizing the Boston-area communities environmentally affected by Logan International Airport in order to reconcile diverse positions, resulting in a cooperative spirit of learning and negotiation. Ms. Mader was instrumental in the development of a preferential runway use system that seeks to equitably share aircraft noise among communities. In 1996, Anastasia Lyman completed a 10-year environmental process with the Federal Aviation Administration to change air traffic control procedures affecting Boston and neighboring communities, thereby reducing noise to 6,500 people. Her community organization skills, technical aviation expertise, and determination have served Boston and Brookline neighbors well. The FAA and others consider the Logan Advisory Committee a model of community involvement due in large part to the dedication and quality work of Bernice Mader and Anastasia Lyman.

Malden Catholic High School:
Brother Richard Cook, Headmaster

Malden Catholic High School has significantly reduced oxide emissions in the local area by eliminating a self-contained cogeneration power plant for its electric and heating needs, and instead connecting with Massachusetts Electric for service. Additionally, the school teamed up with Mass. Electric to "re-lamp" the school using more efficient, energy saving lighting technology. The schools conversion to new lighting systems has further reduced its energy consumption, and it is recognized and commended for its commitment to energy efficiency and conservation.

Media Award Category

John Monahan, environmental reporter for the Worcester Telegram; Gazette, has been described as the "environmental conscience of Central Massachusetts." Indeed, his work is fair, hard-hitting, and his expertise in the environmental field is evident. Mr. Monahan instinctively knows what is important to the public and presents it in a manner that is understandable yet thorough. He is a credit to his field.