Editorial: Calling all green advocates

The York Dispatch
  • We cover numerous local environmental watchdog and advocacy groups.
  • All deserve all the accolades they can get.
  • The 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence is one such opportunity.

From concerns about the Chesapeake Bay to gas drilling and clean air, Pennsylvania has its share of environmental challenges.

But it has its share of champions, too.

We cover numerous local environmental watchdog and advocacy groups, along with students, seniors and creative business owners who continually strive to make Pennsylvania more environmentally sound.

Crossroads Middle School students Dalton Gerber, 12, left, Ryan Gordon, 13, and Chase Maynard, also 13, right, paddle their canoe through a rocky area during a Chesapeake Bay Foundation event on the Susquehanna River, Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Those champions could be recognized with a 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, an award program that has been in place since 1996. Deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.  Applications must be emailed to RA-EPgovenviroawards@pa.gov.

“These awards bring much-deserved recognition to environmental stewards who, project by project, improve Pennsylvania,” said DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell in a statement. “Whether they’re boots on the ground or creators of innovative solutions that help lead us in new directions in environmental protection, their work greatly benefits all of us in the commonwealth.”

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The awards are open to all individuals, whether a project leader or participant, and to all nonprofits, businesses, farms, government agencies and educational institutions. Individuals may also nominate someone they know.

According to the statement, projects are evaluated on  nine criteria:

  • Degree of environmental protection
  • Public service
  • Pollution prevention
  • Climate change
  • Sustainability
  • Partnership
  • Economic impact
  • Innovative technology
  • Environmental education and outreach.

A project doesn’t need to meet all criteria to merit an award, officials say.

Recent past recipients include the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, for its community farm in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia; the Borough of Etna, for its Green Streetscape stormwater management system; Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, for its statewide volunteer cleanup events; the Pennsylvania Resources Council, for its tailgate recycling program; and the Vanguard Group, for its alternative-commute program for employees.

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Individuals and organizations are invited to apply for the 2017 awards for projects completed between Aug. 1, 2015, and July 31, 2016.

We highly encourage those who know firsthand the challenges of keeping the environment safe and sound to apply for this prestigious award, as those have before you. It’s the many small efforts made on behalf of the state and its residents that can ultimately bring about change.

State advocates for the environment can meet with funding and philosophical challenges, but many persist, nonetheless.

And we are heartened by the engagement of students from elementary school to college who are participating as part of their lesson plans.

All of those who work to overcome the challenges to our wildlife, water and air deserve to be recognized.

For more information on the awards process and to see all recipients since 2014, go to 2017 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence.