Blog entries / National wildlife refuges

Refuges receive national awards for environmental leadership

Congratulations to some of our own for being environmental leaders!

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts and Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia are recipients of the Service’s 2012 Environmental Leadership Awards. The awards annually acknowledge Service facilities and individuals for their outstanding leadership and commitment to the environment.

Parker River received the Refuge of the Year award for being a good neighbor, Ohio River Islands received the Facility/Office Environmental Leadership award for green innovation, and Terry Boyer, who monitors the performance of renewable energy initiatives at Ohio River Islands Refuge, received the the Individual Environmental Leadership award for being a sustainability hero.

Parker River was recognized for improving the water quality in the Plum Island Sound watershed through a Slow The Flow campaign. The campaign provided the local community with workshops in sustainable landscape techniques and encourages environmentally friendly land use practices that are adjacent to the refuge. The program offers homeowners five to 10 grants of $500 to $2500 each to implement organic green landscaping projects in order to improve water quality and quantity in the Plum Island estuary.

Katie Hone_beforeafter

Grant recipient Katie Hone transformed her vast landscape of sparse shrubs to a thriving native wildflower frontyard and wildlife-supporting woodland backyard. The photo on the left is the front yard in August 2012 and the photo on the right shows the front yard in May 2013. Check out more of Katie’s project at her blog.
Credit: Kate Hone

Some of the projects that were completed through the program include recipients Julia Yoshida of Newbury, transforming an open lawn into a native wildflower garden, Louise Nelson of Newburyport, renovating her back patio using permeable pavers, and Katie Hone of Ipswich, who transformed her river-side home into a wildlife oasis with native plantings.  The town of Newbury received two grants, one to establish a native wildflower garden on Plum Island, and another to create a rain garden and outdoor classroom at the Newbury Elementary School.

Ohio River Islands partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a bank stabilization project that reestablished the Buckley Island shoreline. Wave action and modern navigation have eroded the banks of the islands in the Ohio River, causing severe losses of land base. The project called for the construction of discontinuous rock dikes on Buckley Island, which have stopped erosion and dense stands of willow and other vegetation are growing in the sediment behind the dikes. The aquatic vegetation is providing better habitat for many fish species.

This slideshow shows the stages of the bank stabilization project at the refuge. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Terry Boyer is a problem solver when systems at the Ohio River Islands Refuge are not working well. He’ll look for reasons why and promote potential solutions. For example, storm water was causing flooding and erosion on part of the refuge and adjacent private land.  Boyer assisted with the design that redirected the storm water to create a small wetland in a reclaimed gravel pit, providing wildlife habitat and educational opportunities.

Congratulations to our award winners for their commitment to the environment and their outstanding leadership. Keep up the good work!

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