MASSENA, N.Y. (WWTI) — On Monday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced first recipients of the inaugural Stewardship Appreciation Awards, one of which is local to the North Country.
According to the DEC, these awards recognize contributions of volunteers and partner organizations in stewardship, promotion and maintenance of state lands, waters and DEC facilities.
“With nearly five million acres of land and hundreds of buildings and facilities, DEC works hand-in-hand with our dedicated partners and volunteers to keep these special places welcoming and accessible for the visitors who enjoy them each year,” stated DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Whether New Yorkers are hiking, paddling, fishing, birdwatching, or just appreciating our natural resources, more often than not there’s a partner or a volunteer helping to make that experience more meaningful.
The Stewardship Appreciation Awards were first launched in 2020 to recognize non-profit organizations, individuals, educational institutions, and municipalities that have formal agreements with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Winners were chosen “for their commitment to stewardship, promotion of environmental education, and creativity in programming” and are listed below:
- Grasse River Restoration Partners: Innovation Award
- Stony Kill Foundation: Public Engagement Award
- Adirondack 46ers: Natural Resources Steward
- Mike Medvesky, Friends of Five Rivers: Natural Resources Volunteer
- Catskill Center for Conservation and Development: Fire Tower Project- Adventure NY Award
- Rocking the Boat: NextGen Award
Grasse River Restoration Partners were awarded for its effort in preserving native mussels and their habitat in the Lower Grasse River in Massena, New York. As of early 2021, 400,000 mussels had been saved. The New York State Museum and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe collaborated with the DEC on the project.
Saint Regis Tribe Environment Division Remediation and Restoration Program Manager Jessica L. Jock commented on the award presented to the partners.
“The lower Grasse River is part of the Mohawk Indian Meadows, and projects like this demonstrate how meaningful State and Tribal partnerships with shared goals and restorative visions can protect the environment resources valued by all,” stated Jock. “We love the freshwater mussels, they provide a critical ecosystem service and benefit to our St. Lawrence River watershed. We’re honored to receive this stewardship award with our New York State DEC and Museum partners and look forward to our continued collaborations doing great things in the years to come.”
All awards were announced during the Department of Environmental Conservation’s week-long celebration of Earth Day 2021.