EPA Honors Mass Audubon with Environmental Merit Award
Conservation Group Cited for Helping Communities Make ‘Shaping the Future’ a Priority
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—Mass Audubon, which connects people with nature through conservation, education, and advocacy, has received a prestigious Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/New England Region.
Respected for its longtime successes in the areas of biodiversity and land protection, Mass Audubon has more recently made a commitment to promoting green infrastructure and strategies to address climate change. The EPA took note of this in honoring the conservation organization and its Shaping the Future of Your Community program, for “significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem-solving.”
The program, which helps communities apply environmentally responsible approaches to sustainable development, is based on the idea that economic growth and conservation can go hand-in-hand, rather than being in conflict. Since the “Shaping the Future” initiative was created in 2009, it has assisted more than one-third of the Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. A major focus has been on communities located within the I-495 corridor, which faces substantial development pressures.
"EPA applauds Mass Audubon, along with all the people and organizations being recognized today as leaders in helping create a cleaner environment and healthier communities," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England. "An environmental merit award is the highest honor EPA New England can give to recognize excellent environmental work throughout this region."
Henry Tepper, President of Mass Audubon, echoed Spalding’s praise and said the entire organization should take pride in the award.
“I’m sure I speak for all Mass Audubon members and staff in saluting the accomplishments of our ‘Shaping the Future’ program, which has helped so many communities across Massachusetts develop tools to enhance their quality of life through sustainable development,” Tepper said. “Green infrastructure at the regional level and improved land-use strategies , such as ‘Shaping The Future’ promotes, are key to Mass Audubon’s conservation vision for the Commonwealth in the 21st century.’’
Mass Audubon Honorary Director, Judy Samelson, whose vision and underwriting of the project since its inception has been crucial to its success, was especially gratified by the EPA honor. "I'm impressed with how far the program has come and how many communities it's touched. Mass Audubon is to be congratulated on developing such an innovative strategy for reducing sprawl and preserving open space," said Ms. Samelson.
One of the best outcomes of the program, added Project Director Stephanie Elson, is that once word spread among hard-pressed municipalities that Mass Audubon was anxious to partner with them by providing green development planning tools, “Shaping the Future” really took off.
“We started out making a lot of phone calls and sending emails because communities didn’t know us,” recalled Elson, who was hired to start the program. “Now, they’re knocking on our door.”
For more information on the Shaping the Future of Your Community program and other Mass Audubon land advocacy and community planning initiatives, please visit www.massaudubon.org/shapingthefuture.
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.