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EPA Presents Environmental Merit Awards to Four in Maine
Release Date: 05/01/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014
BOSTON – Four individuals and organizations from Maine were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their contributions to the environment.
The Maine winners were among 35 recipients from around New England that received Environmental Merit Awards at a ceremony at Faneuil Hall. The awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew more than 90 nominations.
"These individuals, businesses, non-profits and government agencies, often with little fanfare, have invested huge amounts of their time to make the environment of New England's cleaner and safer for future generations. And for that I think we should all be grateful," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The recipients we are honoring today are New England's environmental heroes."
The winners from Maine were:
Evan Richert – Statewide
Evan Richert's greatest skill may be that he makes people think the good things they are working on are their ideas. With this skill, Richert, the director of Maine State Planning Office has battled urban sprawl in his state with great success with the help of government, developers and the public. His approach is methodical – he commissioned studies that showed the high cost of sprawl in Maine and demonstrated that there is a significant market for alternative development in Maine. Using these studies, he launched the Great American Neighborhood initiative to encourage the creation and restoration of traditional neighborhoods. But he is not standing by waiting for the Great American Neighborhood to be built. Quietly and persuasively, he has been relentlessly pursuing initiatives to encourage developers and municipalities to built smart growth projects. Richert's quiet persuasiveness is irresistible.
Piscataqua River Co-op - Piscataqua River
Preparing for and responding to oil spills on land and on water is always a tough business, especially in populated areas of New England. The Piscataqua River Co-op is a blend of private, local, state and federal organizations created to do just this along the Piscataqua River which forms the border of Maine and New Hampshire in the southern part of the two states. The co-op created a local spill management team to respond to an oil spill in the crucial 24 to 26 hours after an accident For the past several years, the co-op has been playing a leadership role in the development of geographic response plans to enhance their response capability. The co-op has an inventory of state-of-the-art boats booms and skimming equipment in case of a spill and spends a considerable amount of energy training to address a wide variety of spill scenarios.
On Dec. 14, 2001, a service New England had last seen 40 years ago was revived – train service between Boston and Portland, Maine. The project was 10 years in the making, and the group who made it possible, Trainriders/Northeast, faced numerous obstacles – replacing delapidate tracks, financing train service, and overcoming the perception that it could not be done. With tremendous perseverance, the non-profit Trainriders/Northeast brought together all the key players and created a success story. The return of train service has significant environmental benefits, providing commuters and vacationers with an alternative to driving. This reduces traffic congestion and air pollution, especially on hot summer days when ozone levels are high. The revitalized train service also provide an incentive for towns along the rail line to pursue smart growth initiatives. Within one month, Amtrak provided two additional trains for the line, and the success of this line should help revive other dormant passenger rail lines in New England. With the success of this project, TrainRiders/Northeast is looking to continue its mission - to establish new, and expand existing, passenger rail service in other parts of New England
The Gulf of Maine Council – Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
In 1989, the New England governors and Canadian maritime provinces premiers created the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, a unique alliance of government agencies working to foster ecosystem conservation and cross-border cooperation. The council's mission is to maintain and enhance the environmental quality of the Gulf of Maine and to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations. The council recently completed "A Year of the Gulf" celebration and developed a five-year action plan that charts a course for improved stewardship of this priceless natural resource. The EPA is recognizing the Gulf of Maine Council and in particular, seven dedicated individuals with 2002 Environmental Merit Awards for their innovative and sustained commitment to improving management of the gulf. The following people are cited for this award: Bill Ayer of New Brunswick (with the Department of Environment and Local Government), Richard Delaney of Massachusetts (former director of Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management), David Hartman of New Hampshire (director of the New Hampshire Coastal Program), Barry Jones of New Brunswick (formerly with the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture), David Keeley of Maine (with the Maine State Planning Office), Art Longard of Nova Scotia (deceased, was with the Department of Fisheries) and Peter Underwood of Nova Scotia (formerly with the Department of Environment, now Deputy Minister of Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture).
Also recognized for their work in Maine were:
The New England Chapter of the American Public Works Association
Spurred by EPA penalties against several town Department of Public Works (DPWs), the New England Chapter of the American Public Works Association took action in 2001. The group approached EPA New England to develop a self-audit program for DPWs in New England. DPW garages who performed self-audits, reported environmental violations, and corrected the violations would be given a low priority for inspections. Together with EPA, the Association has developed tip sheets and fact sheets for DPW directors, and held a series of workshops. More than 250 people attended the NEAPWA spring meeting last April to learn about the initiative. To date, more than 300 New England DPW garages have signed up for this voluntary program. NEAPWA is working with EPA New England to measure the environmental benefits of the program.
Trust for Public Land
Founded in 1972, the Boston-based Trust for Public Land has protected more than 1.4 million acres of land across the country, including 100,000 acres in New England. The trust is a non-profit group dedicated to preserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. For the trust, 2001 was an extraordinary year in New England with the protection of 26,000 acres and a new 171,000-acre project in northern New Hampshire. Recently, the Trust for Public Land celebrated its 200th project in the region. As a result of their dedication, thousands of acres of precious wildlife habitat across New England has been conserved. These beautiful lands will be enjoyed by many throughout the region.