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2006 National Arbor Day Awards

Project Award

Champaign County Design & Conservation Foundation, Urbana, IL

At the turn of the century, 50,000 acres of woodland were available in Champaign County. Now, however, less than 7,000 acres are left, and the region’s trees have suffered greatly from Dutch elm disease. At this realization, Champaign County’s civic leaders came together and decided that something needed to be changed. The county had experienced rapid, poorly planned growth, and they needed to focus on conserving natural areas while continuing their growth. In order to accomplish this, Champaign County developed the foundation, a non-profit corporation that tries to improve the environment of Champaign County and attain a balance between developed regions and natural areas.

In its more than 40 years of existence, the foundation has acquired 100 acres of land held in trust to be used as future open space, planted over 5,000 trees, acquired a 25-mile bicycle/pedestrian trail between Urbana and Danville, IL, and sponsored several environment education and beautification efforts. The county-wide effort of the Champaign County Design & Conservation Foundation preserves and improves today’s environment for tomorrow’s children.

Kennywood, West Mifflin, PA

Kennywood amusement park has been around since the 1860’s when it used to be a popular picnic spot called “Kenny’s Grove”. Even then, Kennywood had a concern for the environment, and that concern has held strong through the years. When new park additions are made, Kennywood is always sure to consider the environmental impact of the construction as well as plan around as many trees as possible.

In addition to their awareness of plants and wildlife, Kennywood goes further in their efforts for the environment with educational materials as well. Every tree around the park has a sign telling what kind of tree it is and some basic information about it so that people walking by can learn as they enjoy the park. Also, Kennywood offers days where middle and high school students can take a field trip and learn from a hands-on approach. The ‘courses’ offered include not only architecture and biology, but also communications, advertising, physics, and mathematics. The Environment and Ecology course includes a questionnaire that helps teach students what goes into the process of park planning in relation to plants and trees. Kennywood recognizes the importance of trees, the role they play in our lives and our environment and the need to educate our children in these areas.

Nellis Air Force Base, NV

In 1993, Nellis Air Force Base originally created their Environmental Grove, a portion of their base where they planted native trees and shrubs for the enjoyment of military and civilian personnel. In 1994, the grove was dedicated as part of The National Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA program.

However, after a few years, the grove fell into disrepair due to nearby construction activities, severed water lines, increased soil compaction, and the fact that most personnel at Nellis have never lived in an arid climate and, thus, have not ever taken care of plants in areas where water must be conserved.

The base decided, in 2005, that they would revitalize the grove. Personnel trimmed trees, planted new trees and shrubs, constructed planting beds, and added park benches and picnic tables made from recycled plastic. They currently have plans to install a solar power system, label plants with their common and scientific names, and offer one hour classes about plants, irrigation and urban landscapes. The grove was rededicated on April 22, 2005 as part of the Nellis vision of protecting their natural resources and increasing awareness of the environment.

Earl Newman, Pearland, TX

While he might live in a retirement community, Earl Newman is anything but retired. Over the years Earl has lived in the Country Place retirement community, he has helped develop, improve and maintain the environment in the community. When Earl moved to the 1400 acre golf course retirement community area, the building developers were still in their first stage, which only included one tree per plot of land and very sparse tree groves on the golf course.

Earl took it upon himself to repopulate the area with trees. He found a group of people within the community who shared his passion for the environment, and they began to work. Earl now holds an Arbor Day Golf Tournament where the winners get trees dedicated with a plaque in their name in place of a trophy, and the proceeds from the tournament go to future tree development projects. He has encouraged the planting of over 500 trees by individual property owners, persuaded the land developer to establish Loblolly Pine tree farm where the trees are grown and then transplanted near the entrance to the community when they are old enough, helped establish Country Place Foundation so that individuals can honor residents by giving them a tree, and he also started a men’s volunteer group that trims and maintains the trees in the retirement community. Earl certainly makes a positive environmental impact on his community.

Nicolet College, Rhinelander, WI

Nicolet College makes a big environmental impact. The school has several nature-saving policies and procedures in place to help protect the environment around them. At a college where faculty and staff volunteered their free time to plant trees before their sustainability initiative was passed, we know that the people at Nicolet really care. Now, after their sustainability initiative Nicolet doesn’t simply dispose of a tree. If a building is to be constructed or renovations to be made where a tree is located, that tree is cut down and then used in the construction process. Nicolet staff and students have even performed “plant rescues” where they remove the plants and trees from an area before construction begins and replant them elsewhere on campus.

Nicolet also has recycling programs in place, and they don’t use anything but 100% recycled paper, paper towels and napkins. They even have banned the usage of Styrofoam, and to further discourage the usage of paper cups, Nicolet gives each new employee a green coffee mug with a recycle symbol on it and tells the person that paper cups will not be provided. Additionally, Nicolet also uses a wind turbine and two photovoltaic panels to generate energy for the college. At Nicolet the environment and the students are nurtured.

San Crisanto Sustainable Development Project

San Crisanto Sustainable Development Project

This year’s winners are: