Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

December 03, 2008

Two Soil & Water Programs Recognized For Environmental Excellence

DEC Honors State’s AEM Program, Chemung County’s Stream Process Guide

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker announced that two soil and water conservation programs were recognized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at its fifth annual New York State Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony in Albany today.

The New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee received an award for its Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) – Farming New York Cleaner and Greener Program, as well as the Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District, working with the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board for its Stream Process Guide. They were two of six award recipients recognized for their environmental achievements.

"I am never surprised by the quality work our soil and water districts perform in the field," the Commissioner said. "Therefore, I am extremely pleased that their positive efforts are also being acknowledged by the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the environmental community in New York State. Farmers are the original stewards of the land, and they continue to be some of the best stewards of the land. With the assistance of New York State and county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, I am proud of the work we are doing in protecting our environment and water quality, and congratulate both of these deserving award winning teams."

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, "The projects selected are outstanding examples of how we can solve environmental challenges by using innovative and environmentally sustainable practices or creative partnerships. By recognizing New York’s environmental and conservation leaders, we hope to inspire stewardship so that others can make significant positive impacts and protect New York’s natural resources."

New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee

The Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) – Farming New York Cleaner and Greener Program is a national model of how a voluntary, incentive-based approach to environmental management on farms, which can protect and enhance soil and water resources, while preserving the economic viability of a diverse agricultural community. AEM assists more than 10,000 farmers in making practical, cost-effective decisions that result in the sustainable use of New York’s natural resources.

Recently the program expanded efforts to assist vineyard and now 52 grape growers have completed a new self-assessment workbook, which has resulted in the development of 16 action plans that implemented an average of nine improved farming practices at each location.

While AEM supports voluntary environmental stewardship, it is also a vehicle by which changes in environmental regulations have been effectively implemented at over 600 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). Plans have been successfully developed for all 147 large CAFOs and 92 percent of the state’s 472 medium sized CAFOs.

Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District and

Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board

These public agencies worked together to develop an innovative guide, "Stream Processes: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams," that describes how streams work and why functioning floodplains are integral parts of the stream system. The guide contains dramatic photographs that help promote the need for sound management practices. The lessons learned can be applied to stream channels, floodplains, stream corridors, and watershed activities that do not trigger regulatory actions. The guide has already begun having a positive effect on decisions made by Chemung County landowners and local highway departments and its reach is expanding as a result of more than 30,000 guides being distributed to a variety of audiences throughout New York State.

There were more than 40 applicants for the 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards with submissions coming from industry, local governments, advocacy groups, educational institutions, and the hospitality sector. The other winners of the 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards included:

· Aslan Environmental and City of Kingston Wastewater Treatment Plant for developing a new system for managing wastewater treatment plant residuals.

· Brewster School District in Putnam County for making significant capital improvements and managerial processes to save energy and to protect the region’s water supply.

· Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Essex County for instituting programs that reduce the environmental impact not only of the hotel, but also of the traveler.

· Union College in Schenectady County for its U-Sustain initiative that reduces the ecological footprint of the college, increases environmental awareness on campus, and makes the college more sustainable.

2008 Press Releases