For Immediate Release
Ashland, Wis.—Binational Lake Superior group announces United States recipients of its 2011 Environmental Stewardship Awards program
The Lake Superior Binational Forum announces nine American recipients of its eighth annual Lake Superior Binational Program Environmental Stewardship Award.
The awards program pays tribute to U.S. and Canadian nominees that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental stewardship through leadership in one of six categories: Youth; Individual Adult; Business; Industry; and Municipality, Organization, or First Nation/Tribe.
Recipients have demonstrated they have taken successful actions that minimize negative impacts on the natural environment in the Lake Superior basin. This year all recipients happened to be in the U.S.
A public awards ceremony for the U.S. winners will be held at 1:00 p.m. Central on Sunday, July 17, at the Barkers Island Pavilion, Superior, Wisc., during a free Lake Superior Day festival for the public. Lake Superior Day is held annually around the entire lake on the third Sunday in July.
Each year an artist from the Lake Superior basin is chosen to hand craft a gift that reflects a unique feature that represents the environment or lifestyle around the world’s largest lake. This year, the Forum is proud to give an award that highlights the unique geology of the basin by offering an award made of beach stones from the Minnesota North Shore.
Award winners are receiving a handmade beach stone lamp assembled in one-of-a-kind formations by Gail Anderson, a resident of Grand Marais, Minnesota.
The lamps serve as a symbol of the Lake Superior Binational Program’s 20th anniversary. which is this year. They also commemorate the Binational Program’s Lakewide Management Plan, referred to as ‘the LaMP’. This binational document details best management practices and goals that have been accepted by federal, state, tribal, and provincial agencies and governments charged with protecting and restoring the basin’s natural environment.
In the Youth category, the Lake Superior Stewards Initiative, headquartered in Hancock, Michigan, prepares K-12 students to become knowledgeable citizens who are actively engaged in activities that enhance their school, community, and the watershed. Created in 2007 by teachers, school administrators, and community organizations, the Initiative quickly grew from nine schools to 14 schools in seven school districts in the three western counties of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Over 75 teachers, 1,600 students, and more than 100 community partners are now conducting dozens of stewardship projects including beach cleanups, stream monitoring, family forest nights, and others.
The Initiative is clearly accomplishing the vision of “Connecting Schools & Communities in the stewardship of Lake Superior and its watershed."
Four adults received top honors for their accomplishments.
For Outstanding Innovative Research and Education Efforts, Naturalists Kate Crowley & Mike Link, of Full Circle Superior, circumnavigated Lake Superior on foot, hiking as close to the 1,555 miles of lake shoreline as possible during a five-month expedition stretching across three states and a Canadian province in 2010. Their Full Circle Superior trek was not just a personal journey of a lifetime, but also a scientific expedition.
Throughout the hike, Mike and Kate recorded important data about the shoreline ecology, water quality, invasive species, and stream crossings which is being shared with universities and institutes as base line data for researchers.
They also delivered numerous talks and presentations along the way and published photographs, writings and thoughts on an interactive web site and blog. Mike and Kate helped weave a network of researchers, educators, outdoorsfolk, and members of the binational community in an adventure of shared goals and vision with long-lasting positive impacts.
For Outstanding Accomplishments on a Remediation and Restoration Project
Alex Mayer from Houghton, Mich., spent almost eight years bringing sections of a long-abused creek in northern Michigan to a more natural state. Huron Creek in Houghton County has a long history of neglect and abuse, until Alex Mayer came along in the late 1990s. Through Mayer’s perseverance, numerous partnerships and restoration projects have been established to ultimately restore sections of the watershed to a more natural state.
Mayer helped write a watershed management plan, organized a creek advisory council, and offered watershed tours and community stream sampling education events to increase community awareness. He leveraged his position as director of the Michigan Tech University’s Center for Water and Society to conduct research studies, secure grant funding, and offer workshops for local elected officials. Mayer masterfully builds partnerships, encourages stewardship, and engages the next generation of managers and decision makers through his extensive outreach programs.
Cindy Hagley, Duluth, Minn., is recognized as a leader in Outstanding Educational Programming for Youth & Teachers. As an employee of MN Sea Grant, Cindy Hagley has been instrumental in the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Great Lakes program to improve Great Lakes science curriculum in K-12 classrooms. She worked tirelessly during the past 6 years to bring substantial Lake Superior science concepts into elementary, middle school, & high school classrooms across the U.S. side of the basin.
Cindy also worked with scientists who study Lake Superior to improve connections with schools & educators. Cindy’s peers and partners rave that her enthusiasm, training, and personality have made her an ideal person to help break down barriers between scientists & educators.
In addition to educating teachers during the Lake Superior Shipboard & Shoreline Science workshops held aboard the Research Vessel Lake Guardian, Cindy helped organize the 2009 Lake Superior Youth Symposium that brought hundreds of high
school students and teachers to Duluth for educational programs about Lake Superior.
Showing Outstanding Leadership by an Individual Bob Krumenaker, superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield, Wisc., has been a progressive and enthusiastic national leader who moved climate change adaptation and mitigation concepts into public consciousness in the Great Lakes. By recommending a bold new vision for the National Park Service, he championed the need to address climate change in national parks at a time when the idea was highly controversial. Bob led a NPS task force to develop and adopt regional climate change strategies in national public land and waters.
Under his leadership, the group developed interpretive brochures on the impact of climate change on the Great Lakes as well as peer-reviewed reports and materials.
Closer to home, Bob led the Apostle Islands staff to aggressively redesign operating procedures and to retrofit vehicles and boats to reduce greenhouse gases. The Apostle Island National Lakeshore---recognized as the first “Climate Friendly Park” in the Great Lakes—has quickly become a leader in NPS climate change efforts through implementation of many sustainable initiatives.
In the Business Category, WITC-Ashland Campus Rain Gardens in Ashland, Wisc., impressed judges with a low-cost but effective solution to stormwater runoff.
The WITC-Ashland campus is committed to considering and installing sustainable initiatives in all college operations whenever possible.
When new curbs and gutters were recently constructed on the campus perimeter, stormwater flowage into Lake Superior increased with the additional concrete. So, faculty, staff, and the Ashland County Land & Water Conservation Department sought to slow the flow of water by installing three very large rain gardens that replaced campus lawns. These gardens help divert water from the street and campus parking lots into a native wildflower & shrub garden that provides beautiful habitat for butterflies and other insects, plus food and shelter for small mammals.
The gardens also serve as a visual reminder of the merits of stormwater management and natural landscapes, and the ecological benefits that both bring to the environment & community.
The Douglas County Forestry Committee, Superior, Wisc., is the winner in the Municipality Category. The Nemadji River Watershed contributes to the largest freshwater estuary on the Great Lakes. In 2006, The Douglas County Forestry Department completed the Douglas County Forest Comprehensive Land-Use Plan, including a significant directive that called for the permanent protection of the Nemadji River riparian zone from any future development or habitat degradation.
When a 3,995-acre tract of undeveloped land with 6 miles of pristine river frontage became available for purchase, the Douglas County Forestry Committee worked very hard to negotiate with county officials and taxpayers to buy this land, and worked hard to inform them about the benefits of buying and protecting it. It wasn’t an easy sell when county budgets are so tight.
Yet through the leadership, commitment, and dedication of Douglas County, its Forestry Department, and dedicated committee members, the land was purchased in 2010 sparing it any future development. Now permanently owned by Douglas County, this piece of riparian land is protected and managed under a hardwood & boreal forest restoration plan developed by Douglas County Forestry Department.
Organization Category. There was a tie in this category.
Sustainable Twin Ports of Duluth, Minn., is dedicated to furthering economic, environmental and social sustainability in the Twin Ports and western Lake Superior region through education, networking and action.
This nonprofit organization facilitated training for dozens of local businesses and organizations in the Duluth/Superior area to create a more sustainable environment for businesses, organizations, and communities using the Natural Step framework.
All of the participants quickly realized environmental and cost savings in the first year. For example, energy use has been reduced at all organizations, saving one business $440 per month on its electricity bill alone.
In general, waste has been reduced by 50 percent. New practices are being implemented by groups such as the City of Duluth, a 31-property corporate hotel company, an entire public school system, and the local Chamber of Commerce. Additional rounds of training and new sustainable practices are still being developed with more businesses to realize even more benefits in the Twin Ports.
Green Campus Enterprise at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich., engages students enrolled in the Green Campus Enterprise class at Michigan Tech work in teams to address four categories of sustainability including reducing the school’s carbon footprint, developing hands-on sustainability projects, providing outreach to the surrounding community, and building partnerships with other universities.
The approach is highly innovative as students lead classes that increase sustainability at MTU. In fact, other universities have expressed interest in adopting a similar program for their campuses.
The Green Campus Enterprise started in 2009 with a goal “to better integrate sustainability into its research, education, and operations.” In only two years, Green Campus Enterprise has established a close working relationship with administrators, faculty, staff, and other students to analyze, design and implement carbon reduction and other sustainable initiatives.
For more information about the Lake Superior Binational Forum visit superiorforum.org or call 888-301-LAKE.
The Lake Superior Binational Forum is a multi-sector stakeholder group of U.S. and Canadian volunteers that work together to provide input to governments about lake issues and educate basin residents about ways to protect and restore the lake. Members come from Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario.
The Forum is located in the United States at the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland, WI, and funded in the U.S. by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes National Program Office. The Canadian Forum office is at EcoSuperior in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and funded by Environment Canada.