Mayor Don Wesely recognized eight individuals, organizations and businesses April 26 at the 15th annual Lincoln-Lancaster County Environmental Awards banquet. The awards are presented to those who help protect and improve Lincoln's health and environment and further promote environmental stewardship to citizens of the community.
The Waste Reduction and Recycling Award recognizes efforts to reduce the amount of waste produced and to recycle. The recipient was Midland Recycling of Lincoln, which operates the largest material recovery facility in Nebraska. The firm processes all the recyclables from the city drop-off sites and participates in community events such as "Clean Your Files Week" and the "Cans 4 Books" program. which donates five cents for each pound of aluminum cans received to a designated school to purchase books. Midland Recycling has also worked with the University of Nebraska in a pilot project to see how much of the waste from a football game could be recycled. The firm recycles all plastic used at the home games and contributes the proceeds to the University’s Ecology NOW Club.
The Water Conservation Award recognizes businesses or industries for their efforts to reduce water use and/or to educate others about water conservation. This year's award was given to three organizations: the Capital Soccer Foundation, the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and Goodyear. The three worked together to help the Capital Soccer Foundation obtain water for its soccer fields at the Abbott Sports Complex. The complex was designed so rainfall run-off would go into a three-acre pond which would be used to irrigate the 21 soccer fields. Recent drought conditions have made the pond too low for this purpose requiring the Foundation to look elsewhere for affordable water.
Goodyear agreed to let the Foundation use cooling water discharged from its plant for watering the fields. The Lower Platte South NRD arranged for easements across the old city landfill and private land along Salt Creek to allow three miles of irrigation pipe to be installed to reach the Abbott Fields. Pumping water from the drainage ditch to the pond allows the Abbott soccer fields to be kept in good shape for the thousands of people who regularly use them.
The Clean-up and Beautification Award for improving the visual quality of our community went to Curt Donaldson for the unique, low cost, environmentally friendly bridge he built in Wilderness Park.
High water over the past several years has led to rotting wood in some of the bridges along the park’s trails. Some bridges have been washed out or removed. Donaldson researched an economical bridge design that could be built without large cranes and equipment. With the help of an engineer, he designed and built a "bow string bridge" using only hand tools, winches, and cables. He will build at least one more bridge in Wilderness Park this summer.
The Residential/Commercial Development Award recognizes projects that go beyond standard building practices related to "green building" techniques; reduce waste during construction; use drought tolerant landscaping; are energy efficient; or use other practices designed to protect public health and the environment. The winners are the first "green buildings" constructed by the City of Lincoln: the Loren Corey Eiseley Branch Library at 15th and Superior and the Bess Dodson Walt Branch Library on South 14th. The libraries use environmentally friendly materials such as linoleum floors and tackable wall surfaces; fiberboard with 100 percent recycled contents; recycled rubber flooring in staff work areas; less hazardous paints and glue; low-use water fixtures; and a state of the art ground-coupled heat pump system.
The Pollution Prevention Award recognizes efforts to prevent pollution, particularly the reduction in the use of toxic materials. This year’s winner was Businesses for Environmental Leadership, a volunteer program made up of businesses in Lincoln and Lancaster County that have made a commitment to protect and preserve the environment for future generations. A steering committee of 20 businesses representing 15 different industries has established levels of certification that businesses may attain as they work to reduce their use of toxic chemicals, to use less harmful processes and to implement energy efficient improvements.
The Environmental Education and Awareness Award recognizes efforts to provide or support environmental education programs or to increase awareness about local environmental issues. The winner was Audubon Spring Creek Prairie south of Denton. The 626-acre site was purchased in 1998 to save it from development and to create a prairie nature center. Tall grass prairies are one of the rarest eco-systems in North America. Spring Creek Prairie, with more than 500 acres of tall grass prairie, is one of the largest undisturbed prairies of its kind in the state. More than 350 plant species and 150 bird species have been identified at the site, which includes wetlands, woods and streams. Spring Creek Prairie is one of the few remaining places where wagon ruts from the Nebraska City/Fort Kearny Cut-off are still evident.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Environmental Awards program is coordinated by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and the Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Department. This year’s corporate sponsors were the Lincoln Solid Waste Management Association; HDR; Pfizer Animal Health; the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company; Novartis; Square D; Goodyear; and Cornhusker Bank.
The awards program is now running on 5 CITY-TV, the government cable access channel. The dates and times are available on the city web site,