Boston, Mass. -- One Maine citizen and two governmental organizations from the Pine Tree State will be honored tomorrow in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presented its annual Environmental Merit Awards for 2011.
The merit awards, recognizing valuable contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, are a unique way that EPA can recognize individuals and groups that are making significant impacts on environmental quality in distinct ways.
Awarded by EPA since 1970, the merit awards 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 56 nominations from across New England.
Awards were given in the following categories: individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Each year, EPA also may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
More information on all Environmental Merit Award Winners from this year and past years is available at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/index.html
The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Maine are:
Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Brownie Carson, Augusta, Maine
Under the capable guidance and principled vision of Brownie Carson, the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) has won some of the most significant victories for the protection of Maine’s waters, air, forests, and wildlife for future generations. For more than two and a half decades, Brownie has served as executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), working to make the environment healthier and safer for the people and wildlife of Maine. Many of the state's first-in-the-nation environmental laws are the product of NRCM's leadership on difficult issues during Brownie’s tenure. Such laws include expansion of Maine's Bottle Bill to include non-carbonated and alcoholic beverages, and a law requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and safely recycle toxics-laden computer monitors and television sets. In 1999, a 10-year campaign culminated in removal of the Edwards Dam from the Kennebec River, a victory secured by a coalition led by NRCM. Under Brownie’s leadership, NRCM has repeatedly brought together coalitions that agreed on protecting the resources that make Maine's quality of life possible and set an example of how a group of determined and caring individuals can focus careful attention to bring about the best possible outcome for people and the environment. Brownie’s passion for conservation and the environment has made him one of the most respected voices on environmental policy, as he helped build the Natural Resources Council of Maine and into one of the nation’s most effective state-based environmental advocacy groups. For more than two decades, Brownie has been at the center of the action for the significant environmental battles and 'sustainability' initiatives that protect Maine's waters, air, woods and wildlife, and the health of Maine people. In doing so he has inspired and mobilized Maine citizens to make their voices heard on decisions that will determine the future of the Maine they love.
Maine Green Schools Program, Augusta, Maine
Deborah Avalone-King, Beth Otto
The Maine Green Schools Program encourages elementary and secondary schools in Maine to become more energy efficient. Green Schools, a voluntary collaborative effort between the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Maine Energy Education Program, conducts an energy-use survey that allows the community to see their buildings’ energy use. The project then finds areas to cut energy costs through efficiencies. Students can get involved in completing the survey, which helps them understand how energy use can affect the environment. The six steps to complete the Green Schools program are clear, and Green Schools has made participation easy and straightforward by putting all the necessary links and steps to get started on their website. Green Schools has supported dozens of Maine schools by working with them to complete the survey, understand their energy use and find areas of savings. In addition, the program has been able to help schools with funding for audits, upgrades or employee training. In 2010, more than 30 schools participated in the program. The program is led by Deb Avalone-King of DEP and Beth Otto of the Maine Energy Education Program.
Town of Sanford, Maine
James Gulnac and Mark Green
This award goes to two town leaders who have done outstanding work in brownfields redevelopment in Sanford, Maine. This former textile mill center, with a population of 22,000, has been struggling with numerous abandoned mills and vacant properties. Since 2004, when Sanford received its first brownfields assessment grant, James Gulnac, director of planning and community development, and Mark Green, town manager, have focused on ways to boost this chronically depressed area. Since then, the two men have overseen the assessment of over 20 brownfields properties. They have coordinated with the state and regional planning commission to leverage as much funding and technical assistance as possible. No funding stone has been left unturned. For instance, Sanford was one of only 23 communities nationwide to receive EPA’s new Areawide Planning Pilot. The town will use this funding for planning at numerous brownfields sites, an historic mill area. James and Mark have also focused on involving citizens in planning, through workshops, focus groups, design charettes, and public hearings. These efforts have given the town optimism and momentum, which has led to results. The recent construction of a road and bike path through the Mill Yard, which will anchor a new development, is another example of the success achieved by the combined efforts of James Gulnac and Mark Green.
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