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Environmental Law Institute Recognizes Five National Wetlands Award Recipients

April 14, 2017

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) is announcing five recipients of the prestigious 2017 National Wetland Awards. Now in its 28th year, the program has recognized over 200 individuals from across the country for their exceptional and innovative contributions to wetlands conservation. “The recipients of the 2017 Awards are on the forefront of protecting wetland resources in the face of development and climate impacts,” said ELI President Scott Fulton. “Through their dedication and achievements, they inspire wetlands protection across the country and worldwide.”

The 2017 National Wetlands Awards recipients will be honored in Washington, DC, during American Wetlands Month in May. The award ceremony will take place on May 18, 2017, 6-8pm, at the U.S. Botanic Garden. The event will begin with a reception at 6pm. Entry to the ceremony is free and open to the public, however, space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit www.nationalwetlandsawards.org or contact Kathryn Campbell at campbell@eli.org or 202-939-3806. This year’s categories and recipients are:

Conservation & Restoration

Gregory Kearns (Upper Marlboro, MD) is a Naturalist for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. For over 34 years he has worked for the Patuxent River Park and Jug Bay Natural Area where he has made a recognized impact in habitat restoration and avian research. Beginning in the 1980s, he spearheaded an intensive study of the Sora rail, a migratory marsh bird, and connected the decline of the Sora to the loss of the Wild Rice and it’s link to the exponential population growth of resident Canada Geese that decimated the rice. In 2000, he launched a restoration project in Jug Bay which led to the full recovery of Wild Rice wetlands in the area and has benefitted the Sora as well as many other species. Apart from this, he has worked tirelessly as an educator, incorporating citizen science into his programs and advocating wetland conservation through presentations at schools, senior centers, and environmental organizations throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Education & Outreach

Dana Pounds (Bradenton, FL) is the Executive Director and Founder of Nature’s Academy, an outdoor educational organization that enhances science literacy and fosters environmental stewardship. She has developed a suite of experiential learning programs that integrate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), Common Core, and Florida Sunshine State Standards. By offering “Edventures” at no cost, Pounds has successfully extended these programs to local low-income, minority students from underserved schools in Manatee County. Now, nearly every fifth grader in the county has access to Nature Academy’s outdoor science education. Through her decade of work with Nature’s Academy, she has engaged over 55,000 students, teachers, and chaperones from 41 states and five countries. With plans to expand the program to neighboring counties, and eventually the entire Tampa Bay region, she continues to work toward inspiring new generations to become guardians of the wetlands.

Science Research

Dr. Robert R. Twilley (Baton Rouge, LA) is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program and a Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences at Louisiana State University. As an internationally renowned researcher, he has produced 148 highly cited, peer review publications, including the first global carbon budget of mangroves and work on the blue carbon value of mangroves. As a leader in wetland science, he has pioneered a variety of research partnerships, collaborations, and outreach projects. In addition to his work in the Mississippi River Delta, he has also researched mangroves in Florida, Columbia, and Ecuador. He has testified in several U.S. House and Senate subcommittee hearings and delivered briefings to a variety of other arms of the U.S. government. During his more than 30-year career, he has brought in over $13 million in grant funding and supervised 31 graduate students.

State, Tribal, and Local Program Development

Collis G. Adams (Concord, NH) is the Administrator of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) Wetlands Bureau. Since 2000, he has been responsible for streamlining the state’s wetland permit application review process and improving the state’s enforcement response processes. He also served as chair of the Association of State Wetland Managers, during which he helped create several capacity-building projects serving states and tribes in wetland regulation, restoration, monitoring and assessment, and development of wetland water quality standards. He is an active member of the NH DES “Silver Jackets,” an incident and recovery response team that works to increase awareness, reduce flood risk, and facilitate partnerships related to mitigating and recovering from flooding events. He also served on his municipal conservation commission, during which time he was instrumental in designating prime wetlands, thus providing additional protections to the highest functioning wetlands, and writing local regulations to establish wetland and surface water buffers.

Wetlands Community Leader

Alicia M. Mozian (Westport, CT) is the leader of the Sasco Brook Pollution Abatement Committee in the town of Westport. Following the closure of shellfish beds at the mouth of the brook due to poor water quality, the committee was formed in 1991 to promote collaboration and best management practices for water quality improvement. Under her purview, the Committee has helped design and guide a number of initiatives, including public outreach, infrastructure improvements, dam repair planning, and amending Westport’s water-related policy. In addition, she has dedicated her life to education, policy reform, enforcement, and funding for water quality improvement by working with the local health district, universities, and nonprofits. She serves as a Board of Director representing Fairfield County for the Connecticut Association of Conservation and Inland Wetland Commissions. She is also a board member of the Southwest Conservation District, a town representative on the Long Island Sound Assembly, and serves on the Aquarion Water Company Citizen Advisory Board.