Urban Waters Team in Finals for Government Service Award

Last edited 07/16/2019

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership, an interagency group in which the Department of the Interior is one of the leaders, is a finalist for the Service to America Medals. Known as the “Oscars of Government Service,” these prestigious awards are given by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.

Out of 430 nominees, the Urban Waters Team was selected as one of 26 finalists, based on its public-private partnerships to clean up and revitalize urban waterways and surrounding lands. Their work spurred economic development and reversed decades of neglect. 

Check out the finalists! Voting has begun (up to once per day)!

The team was created and led by Surabhi Shah of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and includes the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and 10 other federal agencies. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership aims to help heavily polluted American urban waterways, as well as the lands surrounding them that suffer from environmental degradation.

Four  Interior bureaus -- the U.S. Geological Survey,  National Park Service,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation -- have more than 50 staff working in 19 Urban Waters locations. Projects in these cities have included restoring urban wetlands; building trails, parks, and green space; reducing storm water flow into rivers and streams; and increasing urban habitat.  

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Scott Cameron congratulated the Interior team members and noted the importance of their working in a collaborative fashion. These federal agencies are teaming up with local and state agencies, businesses, nonprofits and philanthropies to clean up pollution; spur redevelopment of abandoned properties; promote new businesses; and provide parks and access for boating, swimming, fishing and community gatherings.

One example of a place in which Interior has served as a leader is the Los Angeles River Urban Waters Partnership. The National Park Service and its partners are raising the profile of river restoration in the densely populated downtown Los Angeles. In June, NPS worked with American Forests and CBS/Ecomedia to host a volunteer tree and shrub planting at a park next to the river, working toward the goal of a greener LA river.  Los Angeles Urban Waters is helping raise the profile of river restoration and serving as a much-needed portal for federal and non-federal institutions to coordinate public and private sector restoration efforts.

 “The Urban Waters Federal Partnership has provided a foundation for all 14 federal agencies to work across silos, and leverage resources and expertise,” says Lisa Pelstring, leader of the Interior team and urban policy advisor at the department. "We recognize that by working together, we can accomplish so much more—restoration, recreation, and economic development—in cities where it’s already expensive to operate and difficult to make things happen." 
This leveraging of resources has enabled the Urban Waters Partnership to be active nationwide through grants coordinated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It has improved more than 22,000 acres of land, planted more than 80,000 trees and engaged an estimated 100,000 community members.  

HOW TO VOTE: The Partnership for Public Service is currently selecting the winners from the 26 finalists.  Now the public has two chances to vote. Round one ends July 31, trimming the number of finalists to 12. Round two follows, ending September 15,  picking the 7 winners who will be honored on September 27 at the Partnership's annual gala in Washington.  Finalists (and voting) are on the Partnership website.

Congrats and Good Luck to the Urban Waters Federal Partnership Team!



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