Fermilab Named Winner of Major National Environmental Award

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Batavia, IL-Renew America, a national nonprofit environmental institution, announced today that the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory is a winner in the Seventh Annual Renew America National Awards for Environmental Sustainability. The awards are given each year to programs throughout the nation that demonstrate leadership and excellence in environmental development and awareness.

“As we prepare for the turn of the century, the Renew America award winners represent a vision of how we can preserve the earth for future generations,” said Claudine Schneider, Chair of Renew America. “These awards are about individuals taking responsibility for this nation’s environment, and a nation that takes seriously its environmental responsibilities to its citizens.”

Twenty-four winners representing 23 different environmental issues such as transportation efficiency, solid waste management and open space protection were selected from a pool of more than 1,600 applicants. Fermilab is being honored in the category of Biological Diversity/Wilderness.

Since the Lab’s inception, Fermilab has maintained a strong dedication to the environment. Environmental specialists have been restoring native tall-grass prairie on the Fermilab site since 1975. The native American grasslands are thriving communities rich with plant and animal life, all interrelating in a complex ecosystem. Tall-grass prairie once blanketed northern Illinois; however, during the area’s settlement in the 19th century, agriculture consumed all but a tiny remnant of the native grasslands.

Fermilab now has more than 1,000 acres of healthy prairie in various stages of reconstruction. During the past few years, other native habitats have also been restored, including savannas, woodlands and wetlands. The natural areas restoration project has had a significant impact on resource conservation at Fermilab and the surrounding community. Prairies and wetlands naturally conserve water and prevent runoff and erosion, thereby helping aquifer levels and protecting topsoil. The ecosystems that are being built and enriched maintain and protect many native plants and animal habitats.

“Fermilab has been an environmental steward for over 25 years, and we at the Lab are happy to receive this recognition for our efforts with the natural areas,” said Bob Lootens, one of Fermilab’s environmental specialists. “We are especially proud of our success with the tall-grass prairie, as Illinois is known as the Prairie State.”

Many of the prairie plant species have never been seen by much of the general public of the United States. These plants are now flourishing in the prairie areas currently being restored and enriched at Fermilab.

On February 19, Fermilab will be honored with 23 other winners at a gala dinner in Washington, D.C. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Congressmen John Edward Porter (R-Ill.) and Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) will serve as co-chairs for the event. Dana Reeve, wife of environmental activist Christopher Reeve, will also attend to present the Second Annual Christopher Reeve Environmental Leadership Award to one of the winning programs.

Fermilab will be listed along with this year’s finalists in Renew America’s Environmental Success Index, a database filled with successful environmental programs around the nation. It is available in print as well as on the World Wide Web. Debbie Sliter, Renew America’s Executive Director, notes, “The Renew America awards process and the Index provide the environmental movement with what it most desperately needs: a forum for sharing information. By recognizing these innovative programs, we motivate these individuals to continue their efforts and provide others with successful models and the information necessary to initiate programs like these in their own communities.”

For more information about Fermilab’s environmental activities, please call the Office of Public Affairs at (630) 840-3351 or visit the World Wide Web page at http://www.fnal.gov.

For more information about Renew America, please call (202) 232-2252, or to see the Environmental Success Index online, visit the World Wide Web page at http://solstice.crest.org/renew_america.