WASHINGTON, DC, April 13, 2010 -- The Environmental Law Institute announced today that six recipients from across the country have been recognized for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation. "Once again, ELI is proud to have worked with a team of leading experts to choose the winners of the national wetlands awards," stated ELI President Leslie Carothers. "With our partners from six federal agencies, we look forward to an awards ceremony that showcases the remarkable contributions the winners have made to a healthy and productive environment."
These award winners have restored, researched, and protected thousands of acres of wetlands nationwide. Their examples should inspire individual citizens to act and make a difference to protect and improve these vital natural resources.
This year's Award recipients and their accomplishments appear below:
• Jim Wilcox, Senior Project and Program Manager at Plumas Corporation for the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management group, has designed and built more than 40 projects that have restored 48 miles of stream channels and 3,400 acres of meadow floodplains and wetlands.
• William Volkert, a wildlife educator with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, has provided more than 3,500 educational programs to 200,000 people, conducted more than 1,700 media interviews and programs, and provided training to 66 delegations of scientists from 41 countries.
• The Laszlo Family, owners of Granger Ranches at the O'Dell Creek Headwaters in Montana's largest watershed, have permanently protected more than half of their 14,000-acre ranch and restored or enhanced 510 acres of wetlands and 35,000 feet of stream channel and riparian habitats.
• Rebecca Sharitz, senior research ecologist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, is the leading expert on the ecology of southeastern floodplain forests and Carolina bays. She has been invited to serve on four National Academy of Science committees and has published more than 160 papers or chapters in the scientific literature.
• Michael Cain, a recently retired attorney for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, has authored or co-authored all of Wisconsin's wetland protection laws during his more than 30 years of service. His leadership has helped slow the state's wetland loss from 1,400 acres annually in 1991 to an average of 250 acres per year currently.
• Jan Vandersloot, who tragically passed away in November 2009, left a tremendous legacy as the co-founder of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and led a successful 17-year fight to protect southern California's largest unprotected coastal wetlands, some 1,700 acres.
Collectively, the impact of the 2010 National Wetlands Awards recipients is enormous -- their expertise, experience, and examples have profoundly shaped the landscape of wetlands conservation. "We look forward to meeting this year's award winners and honoring their extraordinary achievements in wetland conservation," said Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA-National Marine Fisheries Service. "We are proud once again to support ELI's National Wetlands Awards, recognizing these individuals for their contributions to society and the aquatic environment. Wetlands provide essential support for self-sustaining ecosystems, valuable fisheries and protected resources, water quality, and resilient coastal communities."
"These winners truly embody the spirit of the National Wetland Awards Program as they inspire our collective endeavors to increase the quantity and improve the quality of our nation's aquatic resources," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Peter S. Silva. "Their extraordinary dedication to coastal and inland wetland conservation across the country evokes deep gratitude and merits the highest of praise."
The Awards program -- administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Federal Highway Administration, the USDA Forest Service, and the George and Miriam Martin Foundation -- highlights individuals who go the extra mile.
"The recipients of the 2010 National Wetland Awards represent an extraordinary level of dedication and personal commitment to the advancement of wetland conservation, science, education, and stewardship of private lands. Their efforts, individually and collectively, have helped raise the public's awareness of the importance of wetlands as a natural resource," said Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. "NRCS is proud to support the Environmental Law Institute's recognition of leaders in wetland conservation and to be a member of this year's NWA selection committee."
"Balancing the nation's transportation needs with its environmental responsibilities is no simple task, and protecting wetlands helps us reach that goal," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "We take wetlands protection seriously and applaud these Award winners for doing so much to protect them."
Wetlands provide tremendous services to society, in addition to their vital functions in nature. "Wetlands play a vital role in protecting our communities from flooding, improving water quality and providing vital habitat for aquatic species. The organizations and individuals being recognized are true leaders in our collective effort to protect and restore our nation's wetlands for the benefit of all Americans," said Acting U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Rowan Gould.
"The Forest Service is proud to lend support to the National Wetlands Awards program," said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the USDA Forest Service. "Water is crucial to life, and wetlands provide a vital link between the land and water resources, supplying a variety of ecological services to forests and grasslands. We are pleased to recognize the extraordinary work of the award recipients."
For more information on the National Wetlands Awards program, the 2010 Award recipients, or the Awards ceremony in May, please contact Landon Yoder at (202) 939-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information is also available online at www.nationalwetlandsawards.org.
The Environmental Law Institute strengthens environmental protection through improving law and governance worldwide. ELI delivers timely, insightful, impartial analysis to opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders and journalists. ELI is a clearinghouse and a town hall, providing common ground for debate on important environmental issues. Web: www.eli.org