OEC announces 2014 Environmental Achievement Awards

Friday, November 14, 2014

Former ODNR director Sam Speck, Senator Randy Gardner, Appalachian Alliance and University of Cincinnati GRO Project recognized

The Ohio Environmental Council will present its annual Environmental Achievement Awards at the OEC's annual Green Gala, set for tomorrow evening at COSI Columbus.

Selected by the OEC board of directors from among nominations by its members and staff and the public, the awards recognize outstanding achievements in environmental conservation in Ohio.

The award winners for 2014 are:

Sam Speck - Lifetime Achievement Award

One of Ohio's most distinguished statesman, as a state lawmaker and director of the Ohio DNR (1999-2006) Sam Speck achieved some of Ohio's most significant natural resource conservation and protection programs: passage of the Clean Ohio Fund, Conservation Reserve and Enhancement Program, and Mining Reclamation Law; establishment of North Bass Island State Park; defender of the Lake Erie shore; and establishment of the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact.

Ohio Senator Randy Gardner - Public Servant Award

An effective advocate for Lake Erie, Senator Gardner (R-Bowling Green) secured $10 million in state funds this year for the Healthy Lake Erie Initiative. This creative effort, which he conceived, aims to keep harmful harbor dredgings out of Lake Erie by cleaning and reusing them for beneficial uses. Senator Gardner also is pushing stronger protections to reduce the risk of toxic algae fueled by farm-field runoff, including a prohibition on spreading livestock manure on frozen and snow-covered ground in critical natural resource areas. Finally, he co-chairs the Lake Erie Legislative Caucus, which he launched.

Appalachian Ohio Alliance - Conservation Award

Since its founding just 12 years ago, the Alliance has conserved thousands of acres of forest and farmland; restored vernal pools and pothole prairies; protected an ancient Indian mound; and sponsored tours of historic and cultural sites. It's just launched a conservation demonstration site along U.S. Route 33 to serve as an educational wayside and a natural gateway to the beautiful Hocking Hills.

University of Cincinnati Groundwater Research and Ohio Project - Science and Community Award

This innovative research study is examining the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on groundwater in Ohio's Utica shale. Led by UC geologist Amy Townsend Small, this first-of-a-kind project is testing for the presence of methane (the primary component of natural gas) and its origins in groundwater and drinking water wells before, during, and after the onset of fracking. Other studies have focused on water contamination only after fracking is complete. The project involves the gathering and analysis of water samples in eastern Ohio by UC graduate and undergraduate students.

OEC Executive Director Keith Dimoff commented, "The OEC is honored to recognize these four champions of environmental conservation. Each has demonstrated outstanding ingenuity and perseverance to help make Ohio a cleaner, more vibrant place to live, work, and play. Congratulations to them for helping to secure healthier air, land, and water for all who call Ohio home."