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Environmental Law Institute Recognizes Seven National Wetlands Award Winners

April 16, 2013

(Washington, DC) — The Environmental Law Institute announced today the recipients of the prestigious National Wetland Awards—individual stewards from across the country who have been recognized for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation. “I congratulate the extraordinary individuals selected for the National Wetlands Awards for demonstrating how citizens and communities can—and do—make a difference,” stated ELI President John Cruden. “With our partners from the five leading federal agencies, we look forward to an awards ceremony that showcases the remarkable contributions they have made to a healthy and productive environment.”

The 2013 National Wetlands Awards recipients will be honored at a ceremony on May 9, 2013 at the U.S. Botanic Garden starting at 6 pm. The public is invited to attend (click here to RSVP). This year’s recipients are:

Conservation & Restoration

Thomas Ries has played an instrumental role in wetland restoration in southwest Florida for over 25 years. Tom, executive vice president at Scheda Ecological Associates, has been involved in over 80 habitat restoration and stormwater retrofit projects. His work has won numerous environmental awards, and resulted in the restoration of more than 2,400 acres of wetlands.

Education & Outreach

Ohio landowners, brothers Steve and Jerry Panzner, have transformed their restored wetlands into a living laboratory that have been used by hundreds of elementary, undergraduate, and graduate students. In 2012, Steve and Jerry donated their land to the University of Akron to be used for wetlands education, research, and outreach.

Landowner Stewardship

Landowner Robert Zorb has worked with federal, state, and local partners to restore his land in Washington and Idaho. Since the late 1980s, over 150,000 plants and scrubs have been planted on Bob’s land, and many acres of upland and riparian wetlands have been improved.  At the age of 83, Bob continues to plant trees on his land.

Science Research

Pennsylvania State University Professor of Geography and Ecology Dr. Robert P. Brooks is a preeminent wetlands researcher. Rob’s work has resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters, and more than 140 presentations. Rob has also trained 42 graduate students, furthering his contribution to wetlands conservation.

State, Tribal, and Local Program Development

Doug Norris has been at the forefront of wetlands protection and conservation in Minnesota for over 20 years. As Wetlands Program Coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Doug has been a tireless advocate for wetlands in Minnesota, championing their protection through regulation, monitoring, mapping, and restoration.

Wetland Community Leader

As the director of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for 30 years, Mark Silberstein has worked tirelessly to protect, restore, and share the Elkhorn Slough. Under Mark’s guidance, the Foundation has brokered 48 land transactions, protecting nearly 4000 acres of land, and has restored more than 2000 acres of coastal and estuarine habitats.

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The National Wetlands Awards program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Federal Highway Administration, and USDA Forest Service.

“Wetlands are part of the foundation of our nation’s water resources and are vital to the health of waterways and communities that are downstream,” said EPA acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner. “The extraordinary actions of National Wetlands Awards winners past and present provide continued inspiration in our efforts to protect and restore our nation’s wetlands. EPA commends the winners for their incredible work.”

“In addition to providing vital habitat for fish and wildlife, wetlands help protect the health, safety and economies of communities across the nation. We are