The National Wetlands Awards are presented annually to individuals who have excelled in wetlands protection, restoration, and education. Through coverage in the National Wetlands Newsletter, coordinated media outreach, and an awards ceremony on Capitol Hill, awardees receive national recognition and attention for their outstanding efforts. The program is administered by the Environmental Law Institute and supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Federal Highway Administration. The Environmental Law Institute coordinates the awards program, while our federal agency supporters provide financial support, serve on the selection committee and participate in the ceremony.
Every year, the Environmental Law Institute receives over 60 applications from nominators around the country. The awardees are selected by a widely representative committee composed of 12-18 wetlands experts from around the country, including representatives from each federal supporting agency, members of the conservation and business communities, and representatives from state and local governments. Selection Committee members are carefully selected to represent a diversity of geographic areas, as well as a diversity of wetland expertise. The Environmental Law Institute facilitates the Selection Committee meeting but does not participate in selecting the winners. The awardees are determined by a majority vote of the Selection Committee.
In addition to recognizing individuals for their outstanding contributions to wetlands, the awards provide an opportunity for awardees to meet other conservation leaders throughout the country. For example, after meeting Education and Outreach winner Professor Royal Gardner at the 2006 Awards, State, Tribal and Local Program Development winner Francisco Abarca invited Professor Gardner to participate in a wetlands workshop in Villahermosa, Mexico. The visit helped Professor Gardner strengthen contacts with individuals working on international wetlands issues in Mexico and Canada. Both countries are now considering a survey of their Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance based on the results of a U.S. survey published in ELI’s Environmental Law Reporter.
Roy Gardner and Francisco Abarca visit the Palenque
Mayan Ruins in the State of Chiapas, southern Mexico.