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EPA Administrator Addresses 2001 Environmental Excellence Award Winners

Press release from the issuing company

WASHINGTON, June 21 - Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman today recognized William H. Crawford, Frederick, Okla., and Keith Etheridge, East Lansing, Mich., for earning the "2001 Environmental Excellence Awards,'' presented by International Paper and The Conservation Fund. EPA Administrator Whitman was the keynote speaker at the event. International Paper Executive Vice President C. Wesley Smith and The Conservation Fund Chairman Patrick F. Noonan presented the awards. Each award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant from the International Paper Company Foundation. "President Bush and I have been talking a lot about the role the EPA can play in fostering a new type of environmentalism in the 21st Century,'' said Whitman. "Though the concept of the EPA as an enabler -- rather than enforcer -- has been seen as a sea change by some, it is clear that it is an old concept to folks at the Conservation Fund, International Paper, and certainly to today's honorees. I believe, like you, that partnerships and innovation will play the crucial role as we approach the new environmental challenges ahead.'' Whitman continued, "Your dedication to these principles is demonstrated in the description of the Calder and Cartledge awards. By recognizing partnerships between conservation and business, and encouraging a better understanding of the complex relationship between a clean environment and a health economy, these awards, and thus their recipients, reflect the future of environmental achievement.'' The "Alexander Calder Conservation Award,'' now in its 13th year, is presented to individuals who protect wildlife habitat in the United States through a partnership between business and conservation. Mr. Crawford, recipient of the 2001 Award, led a six-year effort to restore the Hackberry Flat wetlands in the semi-arid southwestern corner of Oklahoma. To translate that vision into a reality, he involved businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and local government in a partnership that included federal and state agencies as well as nonprofit conservation organizations. Thanks to his leadership and hard work, the wetlands -- once drained for agriculture -- are now a stopping place on the central flyway for 30,000 Canada geese, 30,000 sandhill cranes and 50,000 ducks and shorebirds. Half a dozen species nest at Hackberry Flats. Through Mr. Crawford's work, the town of Frederick donates its surplus water to maintain a 400-acre lake that supplies year round water to the wetlands. The 7,600-acre, $10 million Hackberry Flat project, considered the most ambitious ever undertaken in Oklahoma, is now also an eco-tourism destination, drawing visitors from throughout the state and the nation, and providing significant economic benefits to the community. "It is inspiring to be in the presence of individuals who have given such personal time and effort to make a difference for others,'' said Wes Smith, executive vice president at International Paper. "Bill and Keith have set a standard that we should all strive to reach each day. At International Paper, we also have a strong commitment to conservation and the environment. We work hard to make a difference and we like to recognize others that do as well.'' The "Gene Cartledge Award for Excellence in Environmental Education'' is awarded to individuals who have shown special skill in encouraging a better understanding of the complex relationship between business and a healthy economy. Mr. Etheridge, a fifth grade teacher at Murphy Elementary School, is the 2001 winner for his vision in creating, generating the funding for, implementing and replicating the Murphy Model for Environmental Education (M(2)E(2)), a comprehensive program to integrate environmental education across the elementary school curriculum. M(2)E(2) presents students with balanced and, often, opposing viewpoints on local environmental issues. It addresses the social, economic and ecological aspects of the problem. The goal of the program is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to become participatory citizens, capable of making informed decisions. Mr. Etheridge uses conflicts regarding the future of local wetland resources to help students understand the issues involved. Mr. Etheridge also designed and obtained the financial support to hold two Environmental Education Workshops for Elementary Teachers -- with a third set for this summer -- aimed at providing teachers with the knowledge and tools needed to, as the Michigan Environmental Council noted, "refute the myth that we must choose between a healthy environment or a strong economy.'' "Today we're celebrating the successes of two of the nation's conservation heroes -- Bill Crawford and Keith Etheridge. They remind us of how much we can achieve when we work together. Their accomplishments show us the power of partnerships and demonstrate the importance of innovation and personal commitment,'' said Patrick Noonan, chairman, The Conservation Fund. In 1999, International Paper merged with Union Camp, the long-time sponsor of the Environmental Excellence Awards.Both awards are named for former Union Camp executives. The late Alexander (Sox) Calder was a corporate pioneer in land conservation. Gene Cartledge strengthened Union Camp's participation in environmental education. In reflection of International Paper's commitment to natural resource stewardship, the corporation is continuing to sponsor both of these awards. The Conservation Fund acts to protect the nation's legacy of land and water resources in partnership with other organizations, public agencies, foundations, corporations and individuals. Seeking innovative conservation solutions for the 21st century, the Fund works to integrate economic and environmental goals and to foster greater cooperation between the business and conservation communities. Since its founding in 1985, the Fund has helped its partners safeguard wildlife habitat, greenways, community "greenspace'' and historic sites totaling more than 2.9 million acres throughout the nation. Headquarters are in Arlington, Virginia.

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