Williamstown refuge leadership recognized

WILLIAMSTOWN – Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Williamstown has been recognized as one of the recipients of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2012 Environmental Leadership Awards.

The awards recognize the service’s offices and employees for exceptional achievements in sustainable design/green buildings, recycling, waste/pollution prevention, energy efficiency and renewable energy, environmental management systems, environmental cleanup/restoration, minimized petroleum use in transportation, and green purchasing, according to a news release.

This year’s awards were given in four main categories: Refuge of the Year Award, Hatchery of the Year Award, Facility/Office Environmental Leadership Awards and the Individual Environmental Leadership Award.

Ohio River Islands received the Facility/Office Environmental Leadership Award for green innovation.

The refuge partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a bank stabilization project that reestablished the Buckley Island shoreline.

“The discontinuous rock dikes on Buckley Island are working even faster than anticipated,” said Glenn Klingler, refuge manager at Ohio River Islands. “Not only has the erosion ceased, but dense stands of willow and other vegetation are growing in the sediment behind the dikes. That aquatic vegetation is providing better habitat for many fish species.”

Wave action and modern navigation have eroded the banks of the islands in the Ohio River, causing severe losses of land base, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The river deposited sediment behind dikes that were built parallel to the shore, and vegetation established itself naturally.

The bank stabilization project will help to manage water levels that mimic natural hydrological cycles, the release states.

Terry Boyer, who monitors the performance of renewable energy initiatives at the Williamstown refuge on Waverly Road, received the Individual Environmental Leadership award for being a sustainability hero.

When systems aren’t performing well, Boyer looks for reasons why and promotes potential solutions.

For example, storm water was causing flooding and erosion on part of the refuge and adjacent private land. Boyer assisted with the design that redirected the storm water to create a small wetland in a reclaimed gravel pit, providing wildlife habitat and educational opportunities.

“Great things are happening on all wildlife refuges,” said Klingler, “but it’s nice to see the staff here at Ohio River Islands receive some recognition for all their hard work and dedication toward natural resource conservation.”

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people, the release states.