2019 Environmental Stewardship Awards
The Board of Larimer County Commissioners and the Environmental Science and Advisory Board honored three individuals/organizations Monday for their outstanding work with Environmental Stewardship in Larimer County at the 23rd Annual Environmental Stewardship Awards.
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Including this year’s awards, 88 individuals or groups have been recognized since the program began in 1995. They give the awards to individuals, businesses, and groups that engage in activities that exemplify outstanding stewardship of the environment.
The award winners for 2019 are:
- The Village Thrift Shop
The Village Thrift Shop of Estes Park receives used household goods as donations. The store’s mission is to recycle all the goods they receive either through re-selling or through proper disposal with recycling programs–nothing goes to the landfill as “trash”.
Thrift Shop employees also educate their community about diverting usable goods from the landfill and recycling. All proceeds from the shop’s sales of donated goods go back to the community as grants to local non-profit organizations – in 2018, they donated over $180,000 to 51, different groups.
- Shambhala Mountain Center
The Shambhala Mountain Center [SMC] lies in the mountain community of Red Feather Lakes. Like many properties in that area, it is heavily timbered which makes it susceptible to high-severity wildfires.
To increase the resiliency of their property, the SMC collaborated with several land stewardship organizations to reduce forest fuels by thinning 118 acres of dense forest. The SMC property lies adjacent to other large-scale fuels reduction efforts, so their project increases the overall footprint and efficacy of those previous efforts.
The SMC’s landscape-scale treatment resulted in significant environmental stewardship, which reduces wildfire risk, improves wildlife habitat, protects clean water resources, improves forest health and community protection.
Their project is an important example of effective land stewardship, which greatly contributes to the resiliency of the Red Feather Lakes mountain community. The SMC worked with several partners including the Fort Collins Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Colorado State Forest Service, and Morgan Timber Products.
- Laura Tyler–Fort Collins Conservation District
Laura Tyler saw the need to divert a common agricultural waste product – bailing twine – from the Colorado landfills. Partnering with Waste-Not Recycling in Johnstown and the Fort Collins Conservation District, Laura started the Twine Recycling Program, which collects bailing twine from drop-off points in Larimer County.
The program then recycles it into pellets using a pelletizer purchased with a CDPHE grant. They then sell those pellets as source material for manufacturing new plastic-based goods. Over 13,000 miles [68 million feet] of twine have been recycled, mostly from Northern Colorado. Laura works with many youth groups like Future Farmers of America and 4-H groups who assist with the collection of the twine and learn about the benefits of the recycling program.
Bailing twine is a hazard when left in the environment. Birds collect it and incorporate it into their nests, where the young and adults are at risk of entanglement. Livestock and wildlife eat the twine, which can lead to death. Sometimes, twine is piled and burned leading to air pollution. And when left in the environment to degrade, or ground-up with hay, it becomes micro-plastics that pollute our soil or waterways. Removing it from the environment, diverting it from landfills and recycling it is a great example of a long-term sustainable solution for improving the environment.