Those achievements included the completion of the 20th season of the Baywatchers program, the release of long-delayed Massachusetts Estuary Project reports, a new nitrogen reduction permit to restore West Falmouth Harbor, and the mobilization of over 2,000 people to demand a full cleanup of New Bedford Harbor. The Coalition also permanently protected 470 acres of watershed lands and engaged thousands of watershed residents in discovering and protecting Buzzards Bay through our programs for youth, Decision Makers Workshops, the Buzzards Bay Swim and Watershed Ride, at our learning centers, and in the first ever Buzzards Bay Film Festival. More details can be found in the 2012 Annual Report.
In recognition that saving Buzzards Bay is truly a community effort, the Coalition presented two Buzzards Bay Guardian Awards at the meeting that recognize leadership in addressing the most serious problem facing Buzzards Bay: nitrogen pollution from septic systems.
The Buzzards Bay Guardian Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Buzzards Bay Coalition. Buzzards Bay Guardians must have demonstrated outstanding service in the cleanup, restoration or protection of Buzzards Bay. Their work may be as a citizen volunteer, an organization, or a public official or employee. Most importantly, a Buzzards Bay Guardian is an unsung hero or heroine who deserves public recognition, not only for what they have achieved but also for inspiring others to make a difference.
For his leadership in jumpstarting the development of a region-wide Cape Cod Water Quality Management Plan, for supporting the acceleration of the estuary restoration reports and regulatory cleanup targets for Buzzards Bay’s harbor and coves, and for his support in crafting a precedent-setting permit that caps nitrogen pollution into West Falmouth Harbor, the Coalition honored Ken Kimmel, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. That permit has put West Falmouth Harbor, one of the most heavily polluted waterways in Buzzards Bay, on the road to recovery.
This winter, Wareham became the first town in the Buzzards Bay watershed to enact regulations that limit nitrogen pollution from new septic systems across the majority of the town. That landmark achievement was the result of hard work and persistence from the Wareham Board of Health, which passed the regulations earlier this year. The Coalition recognized the citizen volunteers who serve on the Wareham Board of Health for their dedication to protecting Wareham’s waters.
Finally, the staff of the Coalition presented the 2013 Volunteer Appreciation Award to Joe Collins of Westport for his work in a variety of volunteer roles from helping to make our Swim and Ride successful to engaging the community as a docent and at community outreach events.
Also at the meeting, the membership of the Coalition elected four new members to the organization’s Board of Directors: Weatherly Dorris and Chris Neill of Falmouth, Paul Elias of Naushon, and Laura Robertson of Dartmouth. We also recognized Seth Garfield a founding Board member, who stepped down after completing his second seven-year term.