Northampton receives ‘A’ Award at Mass Audubon annual meeting

  • Belchertown High School science teacher Louise Levy, left, accepts the Conservation Teacher of the Year Award from Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Naturalist and photographer John Green of Belchertown speaks after receiving the Audubon A Award Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Naturalist and photographer John Green of Belchertown, left, receives the Audubon A Award from Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz, left, accepts the Audubon A Award on behalf of the city from Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • James McGovern, D-Worcester, speaks after receiving the Audubon A Award Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Habitat protectors Judy and Dudley Williams of Plainfield speak after receiving the Audubon A Award Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Chris Leahy, Mass Audubon's Gerard A. Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology, emeritus, speaks after receiving the Allen H. Morgan Memorial Award Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. Behind him is Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Wamsutta Middle School teacher Patricia Dawson, left, accepts the Conservation Teacher of the Year Award from Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • James McGovern, D-Worcester, left, accepts the Audubon A Award from Mass Audubon president Gary Clayton Oct. 14, 2017 during the annual meeting of Mass Audubon, the state's largest nature conservation nonprofit, held at the Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

@RebeccaMMullen
Published: 10/14/2017 6:15:38 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The city of Northampton was among those honored by the conservation organization Mass Audubon at the organization’s annual meeting Saturday afternoon.

Northampton received the Audubon “A” award in recognition of the city’s land conservation initiatives — as of 2017, 25 percent of the city is protected land.

Audubon members from across the state gathered under a white tent on the grounds of Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary in Easthampton for the event. Including Arcadia, the organization operates 57 sanctuaries in Massachusetts and maintains over 36,000 acres of conservation land.

The “A” Awards are given annually to individuals or groups who have “furthered the cause of conservation and environmental protection or broadened public awareness of the nature of Massachusetts,” said Michael O’Connor, Mass Audubon public relations manager.

The name is a play on words, “A” for Audubon and A for top marks.

Mayor David Narkewicz attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of the city.

“Mass Audubon is one of our biggest and best partners,” Narkewicz told the crowd.

In 2014, Northampton purchased 48 acres of land in an effort to connect Audubon’s Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary and other city conservation land.

In 2008, the city released a 20-year sustainability plan that pays special attention climate protection and land conservation.

Congressman Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, also received the “A” award for his efforts on the state and national level in land and water conservation.

“Once this stuff is gone, it’s gone for good,” McGovern said in his speech Saturday. “There’s no reclaiming land that is already developed.”

Last spring, the congressman made headlines when he led the debate on the house floor against the Environmental Protection Agency Science Advisory Board Reform Act — a bill that relaxes previous restrictions and allows representative of large corporations to serve on the agency’s advisory board.

“It’s appalling that we still have to argue about the importance of science,” McGovern said of the bill. “We are dealing with people who don’t believe in climate change.”

He acknowledged that it can be discouraging to work towards nature conservation in the face of a tumultuous presidential administration and continued evidence of climate change.

“There are days when I want to walk into the woods and never come out, McGovern said. “But there are some things worth fighting for.”

Mass Audubon President Gary Clayton voiced similar concerns in his speech. President Donald Trump’s administration has greatly rolled back protection of conservation land, with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke advocating in August that the boundaries of certain national parks be shrunk.

Two more “A” awards were presented to John Green of Belchertown, for his longtime dedication to the organization as a council member and photography instructor, and Judy and Dudley Williams of Plainfield, for their work in land conservation and volunteerism.

Also honored were Patricia Dawson of Attleboro and Louise Levy of Belchertown, who received the Conservation Teacher of the Year awards, and the “Tanglewood Takes Flight Team,” who received the President’s Award. Chris Leahy of Gloucester received the Allen H. Morgan Memorial Award for his work as director of Mass Audubon’s Center for Biological Conservation.

Mass Audubon was founded in 1896 as a bird preservation organization and now has over 125,000 members, roughly 10,000 of whom live in the Valley.

In true Audubon fashion, attendees made the most of the sunny autumn afternoon. The rest of the events of the day included guided hikes, a canoe trip and a botanical illustration class.


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