Sunday, December 6, 2009

New Jersey's 2009 environmental achievers

New Jersey Meadowlands photo by shutterbugMike

It was good to see the outstanding environmental achievements of numerous individuals, companies, organizations and government units recognized by New Jersey's governor on Thursday night.

Among the winners of the 2009 Governor's Environmental Excellence Awards were our friends Michael Catania and his colleagues at Conservation Resources Inc in Chester who have devised numerous creative methods to match tiny-to-large conservation projects all over the state with available funding sources.

And there's the New Jersey Audubon Society which was recognized for its many years of work in protecting and restoring endangered Delaware Bay ecosystems, home to many lifeforms, including the energizer bunny of the bird world, the famed but imperiled red knot.

Someone should immediately nominate the Audubon folks for the same award next year in recognition of their leadership in the second half of 2009 when the state's open space and farmland preservation program ran out of money and chances of winning voter support for new borrowing via a November ballot question appeared dim at best.

Undaunted, the Audubon Society rallied hundreds of environmental and conservation organizations and local governments behind a NJ Keep it Green campaign which convinced voters to approve $400 million in new funding.

This year's winners included some big names, like Hoffman LaRoche and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. And some lesser-known folks, like Dr. John Kirk of the New Jersey School of Conservation at Montclair State University, who developed a multi-disciplinary approach for teaching environmental education around the world...

... and Clem Fiori, and artist and photographer, who helped secure federal funding which led to the planting of more than a thousand trees on a network of open spaces in his hometown of Montgomery Township, Somerset County.

Maybe the most timely recognition of all was that given to the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association which is celebrating its 60th year of protecting and enhancing the waterways of central New Jersey through conservation, advocacy, science and education.

The annual awards program is coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and is sponsored by sponsored by the New Jersey Corporation for Advanced Technology and the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. A panel of judges evaluates nominees based on innovation and the long-term benefits the work has achieved.

You can read about all the 2009 award winners here, and about last year's winners here.

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