Newburyport Daily News
---- — NEWBURYPORT — Parker River National Wildlife Refuge has been recognized as one of the recipients of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 Environmental Leadership Awards.
The awards annually acknowledge service facilities and individuals for their outstanding leadership and commitment to the environment. This year’s awards were given in four main categories: Refuge of the Year Award, Hatchery of the Year Award, Facility/Office Environmental Leadership Awards and the Individual Environmental Leadership Award.
Parker River received the Refuge of the Year award for being a good neighbor by improving the water quality in the Plum Island Sound watershed through a Slow The Flow campaign. The campaign provided the local community with workshops in sustainable landscape techniques, a grant program to provide funding assistance to neighboring homeowners to landscape their yards to reduce storm water runoff, and included a rain barrel-making workshop.
“The Slow the Flow Campaign was a pilot project to see if we could encourage environmentally friendly land use practices adjacent to the Refuge,” said Nancy Pau, the wildlife biologist at the refuge who initiated the program. “It was successful because of involvement from our partners and the great projects landowners submitted. Organizations that donated services and expertise include Ipswich River Watershed Association, Marine Biological Lab, Department of Conservation and Recreation and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and many local landscapers.”
The rain barrel-making workshop is the first one to be held in the Northeast Region of the Service, and provided guidance on how rain barrels present a low-cost option for high water bills, reduce storm water runoff and promote local recycling. The Slow the Flow grant program offers homeowners five to 10 grants of $500 to $2,500 each to implement organic green landscaping projects in order to improve water quality and quantity in the Plum Island estuary.
“Many people worked really hard to make the Slow the Flow a success, especially the landowners that received the grants,” said Pau in a press release. “It’s nice to receive this award that recognizes their efforts to make the Great Marsh a greener place to live”.
Some of the projects that were completed through the program include recipients Julia Yoshida of Newbury, transforming an open lawn into a native wildflower garden, Louise Nelson of Newburyport, renovating her back patio using permeable pavers, and Katie Banks Hone of Ipswich, who transformed her riverside home into a wildlife oasis with native plantings. The town of Newbury received two grants, one to establish a native wildflower garden on Plum Island and another to create a rain garden and outdoor classroom at the Newbury Elementary School.