Whitman Addresses Environmental Excellence Award Winners

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman yesterday recognized two individuals\r\nfor earning the "2001 Environmental Excellence Awards," presented by\r\nInternational Paper and The Conservation Fund.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman yesterday recognized William H. Crawford, Frederick, Okla., and Keith Etheridge, East Lansing, Mich., for earning the "2001 Environmental Excellence Awards," presented by International Paper and The Conservation Fund.

"President Bush and I have been talking a lot about the role the EPA can play in fostering a new type of environmentalism in the 21st Century," said Whitman. "Though the concept of the EPA as an enabler -- rather than enforcer -- has been seen as a sea change by some, it is clear that it is an old concept to folks at the Conservation Fund, International Paper, and certainly to today''s honorees. I believe, like you, that partnerships and innovation will play the crucial role as we approach the new environmental challenges ahead."

The "Alexander Calder Conservation Award," now in its 13th year, is presented to individuals who protect wildlife habitat in the United States through a partnership between business and conservation.

Crawford, recipient of the 2001 award, led a six-year effort to restore the Hackberry Flat wetlands in the semi-arid southwestern corner of Oklahoma.

To translate that vision into a reality, he involved businesses, the local chamber of commerce and local government in a partnership that included federal and state agencies as well as nonprofit conservation organizations.

Through Crawford''s work, the town of Frederick donates its surplus water to maintain a 400-acre lake that supplies year round water to the wetlands.

The 7,600-acre, $10 million Hackberry Flat project, considered the most ambitious ever undertaken in Oklahoma, is now also an eco-tourism destination, drawing visitors from throughout the state and the nation, and providing significant economic benefits to the community.

The "Gene Cartledge Award for Excellence in Environmental Education" is awarded to individuals who have shown special skill in encouraging a better understanding of the complex relationship between business and a healthy economy.

Etheridge, a fifth grade teacher at Murphy Elementary School, is the 2001 winner for his vision in creating, generating the funding for, implementing and replicating the Murphy Model for Environmental Education (M(2)E(2)), a comprehensive program to integrate environmental education across the elementary school curriculum.

M(2)E(2) presents students with balanced and, often, opposing viewpoints on local environmental issues. It addresses the social, economic and ecological aspects of the problem. The goal of the program is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become participatory citizens, capable of making informed decisions.

"Your dedication to these principles is demonstrated in the description of the Calder and Cartledge awards," said Whitman. "By recognizing partnerships between conservation and business, and encouraging a better understanding of the complex relationship between a clean environment and a health economy, these awards, and thus their recipients, reflect the future of environmental achievement."

Each award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant from the International Paper Co. Foundation.

"It is inspiring to be in the presence of individuals who have given such personal time and effort to make a difference for others," said Wes Smith, executive vice president at International Paper. "Bill and Keith have set a standard that we should all strive to reach each day."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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