Community awareness and promoting activism were the themes of the evening at the North Fork Environmental Council’s annual environmental awards ceremony Thursday, where the nonprofit thanked several groups for their contributions to the local environment.
Much of the celebration revolved around Lori Luscher and Greta Schiller, winners of the Richard Noncarrow Environmentalist of the Year award for their roles in eradicating the invasive plant phragmites from Marion Lake over the past seven years, restoring it to its former natural glory. There were also honored for their ongoing work in promoting community activism through Ms. Schiller’s documentary, “The Marion Lake Story.”
Their work resulted “in a successful restoration of a lake being slowly choked to death,” said Bill Toedter, NFEC president, calling them “micro-environmentalists.”
“They saw a problem, developed a plan to address it and drew in the help and support of the community to get it done,” Mr. Toedter said. “This is a prime example of what can get done when people come together.”
The two raised more than $350,000 in donations from their local community, and also received a $100,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the project, Ms. Luscher said.
County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) and Southold town board member Robert Ghosio presented each of them with proclamations thanking them for their work, adding that the feat was no small deed given the economic climate during the years the project took place.
“Other North Fork communities can and should follow their lead and make a difference,” Mr. Toedter said.
The 42-year-old nonprofit also named the Long Island Clean Water Partnership its Environmental Champion, thanking its founders Richard Amper of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Bob DeLuca of Group for the East End, Adrienne Esposito of Concerned Citizens for the Environment and Kevin McDonald of the Nature Conservancy, for their work in developing an island-wide public awareness and education campaign around the fragile state of ground and surface waters.
They saw an “opportunity to finally push the issue of our declining water quality not only to the front page but to the front of residents’, businesses’ and elected officials’ agendas for action,” he said.
No one from the partnership was available to accept the award. Several group members are currently in Albany lobbying for support toward legislation aimed at cleaning up the island’s waters.