Congressman receives award for environmental service

Randy Gardner, senator for District 2 of Ohio, received the Ohio Environmental Council’s Public Servant Award this past month.

Gardner, a Republican from Bowling Green, was chosen because of the work he has done regarding what Jack Shaner, OEC senior director of public affairs, called Lake Erie’s “terrible nutrient pollution.”

Extra nutrients, often from fertilizer, end up in the lake and feed blooms of algae.

About a dozen people were nominated for the award, Shaner said. The award usually goes to state lawmakers, but can go to local government officials too.

The OEC’s board of directors chose Gardner for being a “very thoughtful and effective leader,” Shaner said.

Gardner got $10 million in funding for the Lake Erie Initiative, which “aims to keep harmful harbor dredgings out of Lake Erie by cleaning and reusing them for beneficial uses” according to a Nov. 14 OEC press release.

Gardner wants “stronger protections to reduce the risk of toxic algae fueled by farm-field runoff,” according to the press release.

The senator also co-chairs the Lake Erie Legislative Caucus.

One reason the lake is important to Gardner is because it partially falls within his legislative district, said legislative aide Shelby Hartley. District 2 includes Ottawa and Erie counties, which border Lake Erie.

Additionally, the environmental health of Lake Erie is important to the economy, Hartley said.

The Public Servant Award was one of four Environmental Achievement Awards the OEC presented.

Former Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Sam Speck received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Speck “achieved some of Ohio’s most significant natural resource conservation and protection programs,” the press release said.

The Appalachian Ohio Alliance won the Conservation Award for conserving forest and farmland and restoring other areas.

The University of Cincinnati Groundwater Research and Ohio Project received the Science and Community Award. This project is looking at the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on groundwater in Ohio.

“The OEC is honored to recognize these four champions of environmental conservation. Each has demonstrated outstanding ingenuity and perseverance to help make Ohio a cleaner, more vibrant place to live, work and play,” said OEC Executive Director Keith Dimoff in the press release.