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MCWD Announces 2013 Watershed Heroes Award Recipients

"Heroes" to be honored at October 17 ceremony
Friday, September 6, 2013
Watershed Heroes Awards Invite

On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) will honor citizens and organizations that have made significant contributions to clean water at its annual "Watershed Heroes" awards celebration. The awards recognize the important role we all have in improving and protecting our water resources. The event is planned for 6:30 – 9:00pm at the Bayview Event Center in Excelsior.  KARE-11 Chief Meteorologist Belinda Jensen will emcee and Carver County Commissioner Tom Workman will be the evening's special guest.  

"The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District strives to improve and protect water quality by working in partnership with all levels of government, businesses, non-profits and residents. This year's award recipients exemplify the spirit of collaboration needed to provide and protect clean water in the District," said Jim Calkins, MCWD board president. "Each of the 2013 Watershed Heroes has made significant contributions that serve as an example for others to follow."

The 2013 Watershed Hero Award Recipients are:

Innovation in Government Award: Carver County and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Carver County and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) have been front and center in the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS). They have been active partners with the MCWD over the past two years to develop effective programs to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other AIS, including participation in the task force that informed the creation of the District's AIS management program. Responding to residents' concerns and the growing threat aquatic invasive species pose to the water resources, Carver County was among the first local units of government to work with the District to provide inspectors at public boat accesses. When faced with limited resources, the MPRB took bold action to make sure that every boat launched on the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes was inspected beforehand. It also participated with the MCWD on development of the "Save Our Summers" AIS public outreach campaign. Individually and collectively, Carver County and the MPRB have been important allies in AIS prevention efforts in the District.

Outstanding Partner Award: City of St. Louis Park
The City of St. Louis Park has been working with the MCWD on the restoration of Minnehaha Creek, the latest phase of which was completed in early 2013. The project not only improves water quality, but provides access to 27 acres of previously inaccessible green space, wildlife habitat and enhanced recreational opportunities. The spirit of partnership the city has shown in the restoration and the work with local businesses and residents to make it happen was integral to the project's success. The city is currently working with the MCWD on the development of trails along the stretch of restored creek that will improve public access to the resource for recreational enjoyment and educational opportunities. The trails also will provide important links from the boardwalk at Methodist Hospital through the restoration in St. Louis Park to the Louisiana Avenue transit station.  

Youth Naturalist Award:  Students of El Colegio high school
The students of El Colegio high school in Minneapolis, which was created in 2000 to boost Latino graduation rates, learned a great deal about the impact of stormwater runoff on water quality during the design and construction of an outdoor recreation space behind their school. To avoid contributing additional runoff to a storm sewer system that was already at capacity, the project used innovative techniques to keep all rainfall on site. The students, primarily from inner city neighborhoods, gained an appreciation for clean water and how capturing rain where it falls can protect important resources like Minnehaha Creek.  They created a video about the project and designed curriculum that will teach future students about water quality for years to come. 

Citizen Engagement Award: Ken Gothberg
Ken Gothberg is the ultimate advocate for improving water quality. As a leader of the Citizens of Minnehaha Creek Corridor (CMCC), he has put in countless hours advocating for improving access to the creek and keeping it clean.  Gothberg has a long history of civic involvement, including service on the City of St. Louis Park's Planning and Charter Commissions.  Upon retirement from his career as a chemical engineer, he has dedicated his time to representing the CMCC on the MCWD's AIS Task Force, the Coalition of Minnehaha Creek Waters and assisting clean water activities at other organizations including the Freshwater Society and the Alliance for Sustainability.  Gothberg embodies the spirit of citizen engagement, which he works hard to pass onto others.

Outstanding Contribution Award: Elizabeth Weir
Elizabeth Weir has been dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment for over 30 years. As a founding member of the Mooney Lake Association, she has been a strong advocate for preventing stormwater runoff and AIS and protecting water through best management practices including raingardens, stormwater ponds and wetland preservation. In her role as Mayor of Medina and past leadership roles with the Medina City Planning Commission and City Council, Weir has been consistent in her concern about the impact of human activity on local water bodies.  

Lifetime Stewardship Award: Lee Keeley
Lee Keeley is someone who doesn't just talk the talk -- she walks the walk for water quality. Lee, a former member of the MCWD Board of Managers, is one of the founding members of the Gleason Lake Improvement Association, which is now in its 31st year. It was the first lake association in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and Keeley remains deeply involved in its activities to this day. As a result of her dedication, most of the Gleason Lake shoreline remains in its natural state and any boat that enters the lake is free of AIS.  She continues her fight to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species as a member of the District's Citizens Advisory Committee, the Minnesota Coalition of Lake Associations and the Coalition of Minnehaha Creek Waters. Keeley's passion and deep commitment to providing and protecting clean water are second to none.

The public is encouraged to attend and join in the Watershed Heroes celebration. Tickets are $35 and must be reserved online or by mail prior to October 3. Register or learn more