With summer upon us, including the opportunity to once again enjoy the great outdoors, we are reminded of the many important roles of our nation’s water bodies. Whether it be fishing, swimming, boating, a source of drinking water, or just enjoying the view, we need to be reminded that protecting our nation’s water bodies must be a priority for each and every one of us. While there are traditional ways for ensuring that water bodies are protected by issuing permits and taking enforcement, EPA is working ever more closely with local governments, organizations and the public on more collaborative ways involving voluntary initiatives and innovative partnerships. One of the things I enjoy most about being the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region is seeing these partnerships at work.
Several weeks ago, on my way to deliver a speech about President Obama’s Climate Action Plan at the Virginia Military Institute’s 25th Annual Environmental Symposium in Lexington, Virginia, I drove through the naturally spectacular Shenandoah Valley to visit Waynesboro, Virginia and tour Ridgeview Park.
Ridgeview is a community park where people go to relax and spend time with friends and family – especially on a beautiful spring day like it was when I arrived. But, I wasn’t there to relax – instead I was there to meet with local officials and check out the streambank restoration work along the South River, which EPA is helping to fund.
This project is one of many examples where EPA and our partners provide seed money to protect and restore local habitat. Dedicated local officials take over and do the rest. The Ridgeview Park project was funded by a $224,775 American Rivers-EPA Potomac Highlands implementation grant which directs EPA funds to projects that foster local, innovative solutions to improve the natural resources and socio-economic conditions in the Potomac Highlands. The project is restoring more than 1,000 feet of streambank that will help reduce harmful nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the river as well as prevent erosion by supporting plant growth.
During my tour, I was joined by Serena McClain from American Rivers. We were hosted by Waynesboro’s Deputy City Manager D. James Shaw II, along with Dwayne Jones, the Director of Parks and Recreation and Tafford McRae, Waynesboro’s Project Officer for the site.
Overall, it was a productive visit to the most visited park in Waynesboro amidst citizens enjoying the outdoor space of the park and the fishing opportunities provided by the South River. I was proud that EPA is a partner in the improvement of this waterbody and outdoor space in Ridgeview Park. I applaud the efforts of the local officials as they work to improve and protect the environment in Waynesboro.
About the author: Shawn M. Garvin is EPA’s Regional Administrator for Region 3, overseeing the Agency’s operations in Delaware, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Shawn’s career in intergovernmental affairs spans more than 20 years at the federal and local levels.
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