PINELLAS COUNTY - The Pinellas County Environmental Management Department recently received several distinguished awards from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.
The 16th annual Future of the Region Awards ceremony in Tampa on March 28 recognized “notable achievement in resource planning and management in the Tampa Bay region.”
Awards were garnered by the Environmental Lands Division, and for the Clean Marina Program and the Lake Seminole Habitat Restoration Project.
The Environmental Lands Division won in the following categories:
- Community Service: First Place Trophy and a $2,500 grant from The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay for the Environmental Lands Division’s Volunteer Program.
- Environment: First Place Trophy for the Environmental Lands Division’s Model of Urban Ecology.
- Environment: Honorable Mention Trophy for the Environmental Lands Division’s Shell Key Preserve Management Plan.
- Public Education: Honorable Mention Trophy for the Environmental Lands Division’s Connecting People and Place Exhibit at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center.
In February, the Environmental Lands Division won the National Association of Counties’ “2008 Acts of Caring” award for the Division’s longstanding volunteer program. A ceremony will take place in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, April 10, on Capitol Hill.
Joseph LeGath, who directs the county’s overall volunteer program, and Dr. H. Bruce Rinker, who directs the Environmental Lands Division, will attend the ceremony and receive the award on behalf of Pinellas County Government.
“These great honors corroborate our conviction that our team of staff and volunteers is making a tremendous difference on behalf of the county’s wild lands and waterways,” said Dr. Rinker. “These honors also signal unequivocal support from the community at large that we’re on the right track. Collectively, our conservation efforts today will help us provide a healthy environment to the generations who follow us.”
The Clean Marina Program earned first place in the Cultural, Sports and Recreation category. This program is a partnership with the state of Florida and the marine industry that helps marinas become more environmentally aware and responsible. It provides information, guidance and assistance in several areas, such as pollution prevention, compliance with environmental rules and regulations, environmentally friendly management techniques and emergency response.
Participating marinas receive technical assistance to help them meet the standards for “Clean Marina” designation. Currently, 20 marinas in Pinellas County are designated or have been approved for designation. This 23.5 percent participation rate is the highest of any other county in the state, and represents more than 12 percent of all the designations in the state.
The Lake Seminole Habitat Restoration Project received second place in the Environment Category. The project was successfully completed thanks to the efforts of Boy Scout Troops 371, 404, 340 and 417 of the West Coast Council, the county Department of Environmental Management and the Parks Department, Lake Seminole.
During 2007, eight Boy Scouts from three local troops improved the quality of the environment and their community by completing a series of restoration and improvement projects around Lake Seminole. The projects were part of their Eagle Scout service project requirements where each scout is required to demonstrate leadership through the planning and implementation of an approved project.
“I am extremely proud of our employees and grateful for the support we receive from the Commission,” said Will Davis, the director of Environmental Management. “We have worked hard to build environmental programs that are important to our community and it is encouraging to be recognized in the Tampa Bay region."