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July 01. 2013 7:53PM

EPA honors Wakefiled woman for work of Watersheds Alliance

WAKEFIELD — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has honored the co-founder of the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, with a tribute for her work on behalf of water quality protection.

AWWA Executive Director Linda Schier, who co-founded the watersheds protection organization in 2005, was one of 28 recipients of the EPA's individual merit award during a ceremony in Boston on June 26.

"Linda Schier brings people together with a persistence and devotion to water quality protection and restoration that are inspirational to those who work with her," stated EPA officials at the award ceremony.

The EPA recognizes organizations and individuals for their contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving who have demonstrated ingenuity and commitment.

Ted Lavery of the EPA Region 1 office in Boston, whom Schier worked with on the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative, nominated her for the award.

"I'm honored and very grateful. It's nice to have the light shown on this part of the planet," Schier said on Monday.

"I feel privileged to work in a region with committed volunteers, students and staff," she said.

Schier's work included establishing a Youth Conservation Corps where local youth are hired to install erosion controls on the Shoreland properties of cooperating homeowners and towns.

In 2012 alone, YCC crews worked to prevent 48 tons of sediment and 40 pounds of phosphorus from entering local water bodies, according to AWWA records.

Schier said the publicity surrounding the news of the EPA awards might cause people to stop and think about what watersheds protection means to them.

"The whole point is every single person has an affect on water quality; what we do on land defines the health of the watershed," she said.

AWWA Board of Directors Chair Dick Desroches was unable to attend the June 26 award ceremony, but praised Schier on Monday.

"Linda is dedicated … she is a standout, a quick study," he said, adding that Schier knows the science and technology behind watersheds management and knows how to explain it in layman's terms.

"She is extremely good with people. She's just a terrific manager," he added.

"She can reach out to people in a way they understand. The technology of what happens to the lakes as they age is filled with big, long words. She understands it and translates it well," he said.

Schier was also praised during the ceremony for her work on the Salmon Falls Headwater Management Plan, a huge project funded by grants she procured. Her direction resulted in creating a water quality assessment of the five lakes and ponds that are approaching high levels of phosphorus.

The EPA tribute also lauded her for "inspiring more than 100 citizens to help identify 491 sites that contribute to excess phosphorus to the project waterways."

"Communities and the water resources have benefited from her devotion and persistence," according to the award.




lmulkern@newstote.com


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