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U.S. EPA honors six Southern California environmental heroes

Release Date: 04/14/2008
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415/947-4248, chavez.wendy@epa.gov

(04/14/08) SAN FRANCISCO -- During the agency's 10th annual Environmental Awards Ceremony in San Francisco today, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri presented plaques to six organizations and individuals throughout Southern California in recognition of their efforts to protect and preserve the environment in 2007.

“The EPA is pleased and honored to acknowledge the innovative and far-reaching environmental work achieved by this impressive group of organizations and individuals. They set an example for all of us to follow,” Nastri said. “All of this year's winners -- in fact, all of this year's nominees -- have made commendable efforts to protect and preserve our air, water and land or increased our awareness of the environmental challenges we face.”

The Region 9 Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Twenty nine groups and individuals were selected from over 130 nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and citizen activists.

This year's winners include a family farmer growing pumpkins and other crops along the coast in Half Moon Bay who is a leader in promoting sustainable erosion control, water conservation and integrated pest management at the local, state and national level, engineering students who designed and built a self-sufficient, attractive and affordable solar-powered home, which won 3rd place at an international competition, a “no pigs left behind” program where educational outreach and inspections resulted in reducing 11,000 pounds of nitrogen, 4,000 pounds of phosphorus, and 90 percent of bacterial contamination in nearby waterways, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that developed an innovative, first-in-the-nation $3 million climate protection grant program to encourage Bay area local governments and nonprofits to implement projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and an outreach campaign that aims to educate teens about the chemicals in body care products, such as cosmetics, shampoos and lotions;

The Southern California winners and basis for recognition are:

Environmental, Community and Non-Profit

Dr. Darleen Stoner
Cal State University
San Bernardino, CA

Dr. Darleen Stoner is one California’s most important environmental educators. Dr. Stoner created the Master’s Program in Environmental Education at Cal State San Bernardino in 1990. The program draws teachers and educators from around the country to come to San Bernardino to participate in environmental projects that can be implemented in local schools and communities. From projects focused on water and energy conservation to recycling and greenspace preservation, Dr. Stoner has inspired her students and gained industry and community leader support. Now in its 20th year, she created the Environmental Expo at Cal State San Bernardino -- a celebration of Earth Day for over 12,000 students. After serving the educational community so ably for so many years, Dr. Stoner is retiring.

Captain Charles Moore
Algalita Marine Research Foundation
Long Beach, CA

Approximately 3.5 million tons of marine debris float in the Pacific Ocean in an area known as the “great Pacific garbage patch.” Captain Charles Moore and the organization he founded, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, are quantifying and researching the impacts of this body of marine plastics debris -- approximately twice the size of Texas. Capt. Moore documents that the large quantity of plastics block sunlight and prohibits photosynthesis of plankton, the largest food supply for marine animals in the area. While some debris originates from oceanic vessels, 80 percent of the ocean’s litter originates on land and travels by current to the area. Moore’s research is educating oceanographers and leading to increased public awareness about the quantity and severity of marine debris. His established protocols will minimize the amount of future plastic debris.

Federal, Tribal, State or Local Government

Mojave National Preserve
National Park Service
Barstow, CA

Mojave National Preserve, a unit of the National Park Service, reduced its impact on the environment by installing solar power systems to replace diesel-powered electric generators and storage tanks at some of its remote facilities. Situated in the heart of the Mojave Desert with 320 days of sunshine per year, the preserve is an ideal location for solar power. Many of its facilities and quarters are located far from commercial power grids, which required the use of diesel powered electrical generators. With the switch to solar, Mojave National Preserve greatly reduced is dependence on petroleum and its carbon footprint, and also significantly decreased the impacts and hazards associated with fuel deliveries and storage, including emissions from trucks, spills during transport, spills while filling the tanks and leaks to the environment from fuel tanks. Mojave is working in partnership with Cal State Fullerton to double the size of its off-grid system, furthering its environmental contribution.

Rob Roy and John Flores
La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians, Environmental Department
Pauma Valley, CA

The Environmental Department of the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians is a leader in the solid waste arena, reducing illegal dumping and burning on the reservation. Historically, illegal dumping has posed a significant threat to the tribe’s water resources and illegal burning of the dumps served as a threat to the tribe’s air quality. In the last year, through the leadership of Environmental Director Rob Roy and Water Quality Specialist John Flores, the Environmental Department put its newly constructed transfer station into operation, removed over 4,000 waste tires from the reservation, and implemented a recycling program. During the 2007 wildfires, 92 percent of the La Jolla Reservation was burned, including nearly 60 structures and a third of the homes on the reservation. The Environmental Department was quick to respond to the community on precautions when returning to their homes, safe fire debris management and the public health dangers of fire ash. The tribe’s program activities and leadership serves as an example to other tribes.

Del Mar Fairgrounds Recycling Program
Del Mar, CA

The Del Mar Fairgrounds consists of 400 acres and is owned by the 22nd District Agricultural Association, an agency of the state of California. The Fairgrounds has over 3.3 million visitors each year and hosts numerous large events, including the San Diego County Fair and the Del Mar National Horse show. Its recycling program started in 1985 with recycling office paper and now recycles composts or reuses over 30 different materials annually. The program has a diversion rate of over 93 percent, including everything from construction waste to food scraps -- saving over $1.6 million.

Individual

David Goldstein
Ventura County Public Works Agency
Ventura, CA

Plastics are commonly used in agriculture to protect crops, but were typically landfilled rather than recycled. David Goldstein implemented a program to reduce agricultural film waste. He recruited a start-up company, the first in the nation to recycle mulch film, to locate in Ventura County. He developed additional options for handling dirty plastics, engaged in agreements with sorting centers to process agricultural film separately, and continues to investigate new and improved solutions, such as degradable crop covers. Ventura County has seen a noticeable reduction in waste -- reducing agricultural film plastic from 10,000 tons per year to fewer than 1,000 tons in 2007. Goldstein is also well-respected for his “Eye on the Environment” column in the Ventura County Star, writing on a variety of environmental issues, including the difficult problem of addressing agricultural film plastic.

For the complete list of winners, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/awards

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