|(#03045) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny celebrated Earth Day today by presenting awards to a business owner, non-profit group and an individual for their outstanding efforts to improve the environment and protect public health in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Regional Administrator Kenny presented EPA’s Environmental Quality Awards at a ceremony held today at EPA’s offices in Manhattan. Maria Falcon, the producer of a popular environmental television program in Puerto Rico, also spoke at today’s event.
“The champions we honor today reflect a growing awareness that we have to do all we can to protect our precious environment,” said EPA Region 2 Administrator Jane M. Kenny. “We have some mighty challenges ahead of us. It is tremendously gratifying to know that people like our award winners are working so hard to protect the environment and public health.”
EPA presents the Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, business representatives, government officials and media representatives from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of the environment in the region. Winners are chosen by a panel of EPA employees who review nominations submitted from inside and outside the Agency.
St. Croix Environmental Association
After Hurricane Hugo hit St. Croix in 1989, an old growth mangrove forest of Sugar Bay was almost entirely wiped out. Faced with this ecological disaster, Carol Cramer-Burke and the St. Croix Environmental Association undertook a three-year replanting project. Using federal funds and more than 500 local volunteers, 14,500 red mangrove and 3,000 black mangrove seedlings were planted, using tubes to protect the small plants from predators, waves and wind. Last year, a year after the end of the planting program, Cramer-Burke found that it had achieved an 82 percent survival rate, even better than the 50 percent survival rate originally anticipated.
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
Stanley Selengut, President
Maho Bay Camps
St. John, USVI
St. John, USVI
Maho Bay Camps is one of the most widely praised eco-lodgings in the world and its President, Stanley Selengut is recognized as a pioneer in the field of eco-tourism. Over the last two decades he has built his resort into a showcase for environmentally friendly projects like recycling and alternative energy sources like solar and wind power. He has expanded this concept by adding three other eco-lodgings on the island and been a staunch worldwide advocate for the concept of eco-tourism. In his own words, “Ecotourism can be a positive force for conservation, not to talk about the impact on the visitors who come through. After all, you have them when they are relaxed – and open to new ideas.” His concepts have resonated in the tourist industry. Maho Bay Camps was a winner of Travel Holiday Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for the Best Buys of 2003.
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, ENVIRONMENTAL OR COMMUNITY GROUP
Island Resources Foundation
St. Thomas, USVI
Since 1972, the Island Resources Foundation has been helping small islands, especially in the Caribbean, to achieve social, economic and institutional growth while protecting the environment. This research and education non-profit has administered more than 200 independently-funded projects in several dozen small islands, and more than 70 in the Virgin Islands. As part of its assistance to local community groups, the foundation recently inaugurated its Environmental Reference Center at Coral World for the Virgin Islands non-profit community. Island Resources also provided technical assistance for the U.S. Virgin Islands Coastal Zone Management Program. In a recent project to describe resources for a Coastal Zone supported Territorial Park System, the foundation documented a 50-year history of efforts to protect 40 priority sites in such marine protected areas.