The Alliance is proud to recognize our 2017 Environmental Leadership Award Winners
This year, our highest honor, the Environmental Leadership Award, will be presented to the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Mayor, Rick Gray.
The Environmental Leadership Award, which honors Alliance founder Fran Flanigan, recognizes a person whose dedication to the Chesapeake Bay also illustrates the Alliance’s mission of fostering partnerships and building local environmental stewardship.
Rick Gray was first elected Mayor of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2005. While mayor, he led a renaissance in local business, arts, and culture and dedicated himself to improving the quality of life of his residents. But, for Gray, there was never a choice to be made between the economic and environmental health of his City. Through his leadership, he showed that quality of life depends on a quality environment by working diligently to promote the greening of Lancaster’s infrastructure and to lead an environmental movement in the City.
Like many older cities in the East, Lancaster has a combined sewer system, which means that stormwater runoff and sewage travel in the same pipes to the wastewater treatment plant. The plant is not able to handle the growing amount of runoff during rain events causing overflows that seriously pollute local waterways.
Mayor Gray took on this challenge with a unique perspective. Why not fix water problems in a way that benefit the community? He became a driving force for a City-wide strategy to reduce pollution through adding parks, trees, and greenspace to neighborhoods. Why not put a stormwater storage tank under a basketball court, use permeable pavement, or redesign roads and intersections with rain gardens? His leadership brought neighborhoods together to be a part of the solution.
Mayor Gray was appointed by the Governor to the Chesapeake Bay Local Government Advisory Committee of the Executive Council on which he served as Chair for two years Rick is known by his colleagues and friends as someone who is deeply passionate about the environment and about people. Gray said, “I walked to work for 44 years. I always say it takes me 20 minutes to walk a block, I’m stopped so often. I love the people. A lot of the best suggestions come from sidewalk conversations that start off ‘Are you the mayor?’”
We are proud to recognize Mayor Gray as our Environmental Leadership Award Winner.
Dave Gunnarson is a Senior Staff Environmental Engineer at Lockheed Martin in Manassas, Virginia. Dave’s specialties include environmental remediation, large project construction management, environmental management systems, and auditing. But his passion is environmental stewardship. Dave believes that businesses must be active participants in environmental restoration and improving the communities where they work, and he readily shares this message with others.
Dave took on the establishment and leadership of the Lockheed Martin Go Green Team at the Manassas office and is spreading his ideas through remediation projects, community outreach, and technical assistance to over 20 Lockheed martin facilities. Additionally, Dave serves as the Chair of the Businesses for the Bay Steering Committee and received the Businesses for the Bay Mentor of the Year award in 2003.
Betsy Love has worked as a grant writer, program developer, project manager, entrepreneur, and now in retirement, as an environmental advocate for clean water and native habitat in her community. Betsy graduated from the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy as a Master Watershed Steward and was the 2016 Master Watershed Steward of the Year.
After becoming a Watershed Steward in 2014, Betsy immediately began to put her new skills and knowledge to work at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Annapolis, where she led their environmental committee. For the past three years, Betsy has determinedly led an effort to secure the designs, permits, and the needed funding for a major stream restoration and stormwater reduction project on St. Luke’s property. Beginning this summer, a $1.3 million project will begin construction to clean polluted stormwater from 28-acres of urban drainage area and significantly reduce the nutrient pollution entering Back Creek. Betsy brings a passion and care for nature that is an inspiration for all.
If you know Greg Wilson, you know he is a force of nature! Although he had a career in the construction industry, it was his love of fly-fishing that inspired him to begin his work in the watershed.
Greg got started as a dedicated volunteer for the Donegal Chapter of Trout Unlimited in York, Pennsylvania. While many saw Lititz Run as a degraded, eroded, channel running through farms and subdivisions, Greg saw a stream with potential. Trout Unlimited began some small restoration and buffer planting projects around 1990. Soon Greg was the lead on the project, continuing to bring new partners together and talking to anyone he could to support the work. Today, dozens of completed projects have led to the Lititz Run being recognized as a model of water quality improvement and fish habitat restoration. Greg remains Vice President of the Lititz Run Watershed Alliance and a long-time member of Donegal Trout Unlimited.
So he would be able to tinker on his own, Greg and his wife also purchased a 50-acre degraded farm in Warwick Township, a property with a small tributary to Lititz Run, and have spent years restoring the degraded land to a thriving wildlife habitat. If you run into Greg, I guarantee he will want to talk with you about a few ideas he has…for streams, native plants, buffers, floodplains, wetlands,—the list goes on. He is a tireless champion for his local watershed.