ReVenture Park receives conservation achievement award

Forsite Development’s ReVenture Park was named Business Conservationist of the Year by the N.C. Wildlife Federation. ReVenture and other winners of the 53rd Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards will be recognized at a banquet in Cary in September.

 

Founder Tom McKittrick opened Charlotte’s first “eco-industrial park” on a 667-acre site that once was home to a textile dye manufacturer and later declared a Superfund site.   Read “Can worms and compost pay off for westside developer?” Judges said the “innovative” park along the Catawba River is a “hub for renewable energy, recycling and wildlife habitat restoration. The ReVenture Park includes vast wildlife meadows, riparian buffers, a conservation easement protecting land, prescribed burns for management and public use of nature trails.

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Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award Winners Announced

July 22, 2016 The North Carolina Wildlife Federation has announced the winners of the 53rd Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards.

This year’s winners are exceedingly notable Conservation devotees who work for species ranging from elk, amphibians, fish and bear and from water quality experts, land stewardship advocates, and those helping to preserve unique ecosystems. The award winners include agency professionals, elected officials, academia, non-profit leaders and organizations rising to the challenge.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation first presented its conservation awards in 1958. “Each year we are amazed at the commitment and creativity of North Carolina citizens in protecting wildlife and wild places,” stated T. Edward Nickens, NCWF Awards Committee Chair. “Many of our award winners tell us their Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award represents the high point of their career—whether they are full-time scientists or full-time volunteer conservationists.”

These prestigious awards are a long-standing effort to honor individuals, governmental bodies, organizations, and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina. These are the highest natural resource honors given in the state. By recognizing, publicizing, and honoring these conservation leaders—young and old, professional and volunteer—the North Carolina Wildlife Federation hopes to inspire all North Carolinians to take a more active role in protecting the natural resources of our state.

Awards winners are nominated by the citizens of North Carolina and decided upon by a committee of scientists, environmental educators, and conservation activists. “This awards program brings together a remarkably diverse group of conservationists to highlight the `good news’ about wildlife conservation in North Carolina,” said Nickens, “Our primary focus is to applaud and honor these people who work so hard for wildlife and the air, water, land that they and all of us depend upon”.

Here are the winners and categories:

Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year
Gene Maready
Columbia

From patrolling heavily fished coastal waters to keeping an eye out for anglers in distress, Gene Maready made a huge impact on northeastern North Carolina’s sounds and rivers. He made a number of significant cases involving the illegal use of commercial gear, violations of size and creel limits for fish and crabs, recreational and commercial license violations, the illegal sale of seafood, and larceny of gear. In addition, he participated in undercover operations and saved a capsized fisherman from dying of hypothermia in the winter cold.

Wildlife Enforcement Officer of the Year
Isaac R. Hannah
Casar

Isaac Hannah demonstrates a professional and personal demeanor dealing with the public he serves and engages with the local community to educate them on hunter safety, boating safety, and assistance with wildlife related issues. He was instrumental in establishing the largest public shooting complex in the Southeast, and led poaching cases and search and rescue operations. All along, he leads efforts to increase boating safety and community engagement with youth, disabled individuals, and other law enforcement agencies.

Business Conservationist of the Year
ReVenture Park
Charlotte

This innovative “brownfield” restoration site is transforming more than 600 acres of Superfund-designated land into a hub for renewable energy, recycling and wildlife habitat restoration. The ReVenture Park includes vast wildlife meadows, riparian buffers, a conservation easement protecting land, prescribed burns for management, and public use of nature trails.

Conservation Organization of the Year
Save Blounts Creek
Chocowinity

Coastal Beaufort County is the site of a proposed 50-year open marine limestone pit mine that would send 12 million gallons of groundwater and stormwater pumped out of the mine and discharged each day into pristine, brackish marsh and waters that support river herring, flounder, and red drum. The community-based Save Blounts Creek group has been working diligently to protect this aquatic treasure.

Natural Resources Scientist of the Year
Christopher S. DePerno, Ph.D.
Raleigh

A research scientist and educator in North Carolina State University’s program in Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, DePerno is dedicated to sound science, student mentoring, and the conservation and management of North Carolina’s natural resources. DePerno has conducted research on numerous species including white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, Canada geese, river otters, raccoons, woodcock, feral hogs, wild horses, and elk while preparing many graduate and undergraduate students for careers in wildlife and conservation biology.

NCWF Affiliate of the Year
Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District

A leader in farmland preservation and a model for a natural resources conservation district, the Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District contributed a prairie tract to North Carolina’s nature preserve system, championed amphibian and reptile sustainability, and has served as a leader in youth conservation education.

NCWF Chapter of the Year
Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists
Washington

Building community for conservation is the hallmark of this wildlife chapter. Over the last year the group has built a handicapped hunting blind, overseen pollinator plant sales, advocated for watershed protection, incorporated beekeeping and organic gardening into the curriculum of a local community college, fought industrialized pollution from degrading area waters and wildlife refuges, and raised awareness about the value of endangered species on the landscape.

Hunter Safety Educator of the Year
Link Grass
Denver

Link Grass has educated thousands of new hunters about hunting safety and conservation. Grass has instructed tirelessly through the years and introduced hunter education into the Lincoln County school system. He has evolved web-oriented teaching in an evolving technological landscape while incorporating elaborate visuals and displays for in-person trainings. And importantly, Grass is a highly sought mentor for newly certified hunter education instructors.

Wildlife Volunteer of the Year
Kayne Darrell
Wilmington

One of the year’s great conservation successes came when Titan Cement announced it was abandoning plans to construct the fourth-largest cement kiln in the country on the northeast Cape Fear River in New Hanover County. This plant would have required a massive open pit mining operation in lowlands and wetlands in New Hanover and Pender counties. Darrell was a tireless, dedicated leader of Citizens Against Titan.

Municipal Conservationist of the Year
City of Rockingham

Rockingham is a city with a vision and a serious commitment to natural resources. Highlights over the last few years include the first Urban Wildlife Conservation Area in North Carolina, featuring walking trails, boating, fishing and wildlife viewing. The Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail is another city-planned gem of 14 miles of designated paddling trail along the Pee Dee River.
Forest Conservationist of the Year
Dan Ryan
Wilmington

Ryan is the longleaf pine program manager with The Nature Conservancy, and through his work, thousands of acres of longleaf pine habitat has been restored, preserved, and protected. Ryan has successfully collaborated with private timber managers to put acreage into conservation, to convert acreage into longleaf, and to manage lands in a sustainable fashion.

Legislator of the Year
Jay Adams
Hickory

Representative Adams is a leader for public trust resources, wildlife, and sporting issues. Adams is a staunch and valiant voice for proper deer management, ethical hunting, keeping wild deer wild and bringing to bear the serious issues of importation, exportation of wild animals and the diseases associated with these activities.

Conservation Communicator of the Year
Lisa Rider
Sneads Ferry

An expert in all forms of recycling, Rider created the Onslow County Earth and Surf Fest and the annual North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium. Whether leading presentations in elementary schools and national conferences, or training volunteers to create new programs in their communities, her articulate voice and her daily commitment have convinced thousands of North Carolinians to act with conservation in mind.

Environmental Educator of the Year
Whitney Greene
Laurel Springs

This County Extension Agent is transforming the 4-H Youth Development program in Wilkes County and beyond. From bee pollination and worm composting to the effects of beaver dams, Greene’s solid science background fuels her passion for inspiring kids to get involved with hands-on stewardship projects that make a difference.

Water Conservationist of the Year
Grady McCallie
Raleigh

An expert in policy evaluation and analysis, McCallie provides the data and interpretation of water quality and quantity issues to the conservation community, tracks state and federal legislation regarding water issues, educates decision makers on pending legislation and serves as the hub for all who advocate for water quality in North Carolina.

Land Conservationist of the Year
Tom Berry
Greensboro

A pioneer in conservation easements, Berry’s 400-acre farm in Caswell County is protected and managed for wildlife. Berry’s leadership as the Chair of the Land Use Committee for the Wildlife Resources Commission has bolstered elk habitat expansion and waterfowl impoundments in North Carolina. Under his tenure since appointment in 2013, more than 12,000 acres valued at over $60 million have been protected by fee purchase or landowner cooperative agreements.

Sportsman of the Year
Robin Hayes
Concord

A lifelong hunter and angler, Hayes is a champion for sportsmen and conservation. As a Congressman, he chaired the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and was a leading advocate for federal wildlife funding programs. From working his own land for wildlife and sporting opportunities to leading efforts for marine resources and wild deer protection, Hayes is the epitome of a sportsman-conservationist.

Wildlife Conservationist of the Year
John D. Groves
Asheboro

The first curator of amphibians and reptiles for the NC Zoo, Groves is a leading researcher in many wildlife fields including alligator, eastern box turtle, and Cape Fear shiners. He established the eastern hellbender conservation program as well as the hellbender captive breeding program.

Conservationist of the Year
Tom Harrison
Plymouth

A life-long wildlife enthusiast and steward of the land, Harrison’s passion for black bears, educating the public, and giving back to his community led him to create the highly successful North Carolina Black Bear Festival. He chairs the board of the outdoor Christian ministry group Cross Trail Outfitters, and participates in implementing a Wetland Reserve Program in eastern North Carolina, a species recovery program, and many other conservation projects.

*Detailed award winner information and images will be provided after the September 10 banquet at which award winners will receive their certificate and handsome trophy. Registration info for the reception/banquet can be found here. www.ncwf.org

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Forsite Development’s ReVenture Park earns a 2016 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award from The North Carolina Wildlife Federation

August 15, 2016 CHARLOTTE – Forsite Development’s ReVenture Park™ has earned a 2016 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award from The North Carolina Wildlife Federation.

ReVenture Park™ was named the Business Conservationist of the Year, for its “innovative ‘brownfield’ restoration site that is transforming more than 600 acres of Superfund-designated land into a hub for renewable energy, recycling and wildlife habitat restoration. The ReVenture Park includes vast wildlife meadows, riparian buffers, a conservation easement protecting land, prescribed burns for management, and public use of nature trails.”

ReVenture Park™ (www.reventurepark.com), owned by Forsite Development, Inc., is an ambitious reinvention of a former Superfund Site along the Catawba River into Charlotte’s First Eco-Industrial Park.

Winners of the 53rd Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards include notable Conservation devotees who work for species ranging from elk, amphibians, fish and bear and from water quality experts, land stewardship advocates, and those helping to preserve unique ecosystems.  The award winners include agency professionals, elected officials, academia, non-profit leaders and organizations rising to the challenge.

These prestigious awards are a long-standing effort to honor individuals, governmental bodies, organizations, and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina. These are the highest natural resource honors given in the state. By recognizing, publicizing, and honoring these conservation leaders—young and old, professional and volunteer—the North Carolina Wildlife Federation hopes to inspire all North Carolinians to take a more active role in protecting the natural resources of our state.

Other award 2016 winners are:

Gene Maready, Columbia, N.C., Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year;

Isaac Hannah, Casar, N.C., Wildlife Enforcement Officer of the Year; Save Blounts Creek, Chocowinity, N.C., Conservation Organization of the Year; Christopher DePerno, Ph.D., Raleigh, Natural Resources Scientist of the Year; Cabarrus Soil and Water Conservation District, Concord, N.C., NCWF Affiliate of the Year; Pamlico Albemarle Wildlife Conservationists, Washington, N.C., NCWF Chapter of the Year; Link Grass, Denver, N.C., Hunter Safety Educator of the Year; Kayne Darrell, Wilmington, Wildlife Volunteer of the Year; City of Rockingham, N.C., Municipal Conservationist of the Year; Dan Ryan, Wilmington, Forest Conservationist of the Year; Jay Adams, Hickory, Legislator of the Year; Lisa Rider, Sneads Ferry, N.C., Conservation Communicator of the Year; Whitney Greene, Laurel Springs, N.C., Environmental Educator of the Year; Grady McCallie, Raleigh, Water Conservationist of the Year; Tom Berry, Greensboro, Land Conservationist of the Year; Robin Hayes, Concord, N.C., Sportsman of the Year; John Groves, Asheboro, N.C., Wildlife Conservationist of the Year; and Tom Harrison, Plymouth, N.C., Conservationist of the Year.

The North Carolina Wildlife Federation first presented its conservation awards in 1958.  “Each year we are amazed at the commitment and creativity of North Carolina citizens in protecting wildlife and wild places,” stated T. Edward Nickens, NCWF Awards Committee Chair. “Many of our award winners tell us their Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award represents the high point of their career – whether they are full-time scientists or full-time volunteer conservationists.”

Awards winners are nominated by the citizens of North Carolina and decided upon by a committee of scientists, environmental educators, and conservation activists. “This awards program brings together a remarkably diverse group of conservationists to highlight the `good news’ about wildlife conservation in North Carolina,” said Nickens, “Our primary focus is to applaud and honor these people who work so hard for wildlife and the air, water, land that they and all of us depend upon”.

Forsite Development, Inc. (www.forsiteinc.com) was founded by Tom McKittrick in 2004 for the purpose of acquiring corporate surplus industrial facilities. To date, Forsite has redeveloped over 6.8 million square feet of these facilities across 3,000 acres, and those projects have attracted or retained approximately 960 jobs and counting.

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Superfund Sites Work for Communities

June 18, 2016 Reuse on the Horizon in Region 4

Redeveloping a Former Chemical Facility into a Large-Scale Eco-Industrial Park

The Martin-Marietta, Sodyeco, Inc. site is located near Charlotte, North Carolina. Former industrial operations included a landfill, active from the 1930s to 1973, and the DyeStuff Company, a producer of liquid sulfur-based dyes since 1936. Martin-Marietta purchased the site in 1958 and continued manufacturing dyes as well as industrial chemicals. Sodyeco, Inc. purchased the site property in 1983. After discovering contaminated soil and groundwater that could threaten human health and the nearby Catawba River, EPA added the site to the NPL in 1983.

Following excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated soil, groundwater treatment and installation of a cap, EPA deleted the site from the NPL in 2012 and deferred the groundwater treatment to the state of North Carolina’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
program.

Developers then began working with EPA and the State of North Carolina to turn a 667-acre portion of the site into ReVenture Park, the region’s largest eco-industrial park. Bringing together innovative businesses that will create hundreds of new jobs, Forsite Development is converting industrial building space into a business park focused on energy efficiency, renewable energy and environmental technology. The project is home to biomass combined heat-and-power projects, an algae-to-fuel pilot plant, an all-electric truck company, an energy efficiency training firm, a plastics recycler and a 35-acre aquaculture project, among others. In total, new investments on site exceed $14 million.

The site’s cleanup and redevelopment are already benefiting the local real estate market and proving to be an economic asset. In 2014, a 329-acre portion of the site was valued at over $8.2 million. The area also contributed $88,000 in property taxes. Long term, the site’s revitalization will highlight the benefits of Superfund site reuse for many years to come. In 2014, EPA presented the Region 4 “Excellence in Site Reuse” award to Forsite Development in recognition of the company’s commitment to safely and
sustainably reusing the site.

EPA_Superfund Sites Work for Communities-Martin-Marietta

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Can worms and compost pay off for westside developer?

June 15, 2016 In northwest Charlotte along the Catawba River, on the once heavily polluted home of a former textile dye manufacturer, a variety of alternative energy and recycling businesses are sprouting at an innovative commercial real-estate development. There’s an aquaculture project producing duckweed, which can be used as feed for animals or fisheries. Nearby, a habitat restoration project aimed at promoting pollination has taken root, along with a greenhouse that uses compost and worms to produce high-quality soil. A $40 million project is expected to be announced this summer.

Since opening in 2014, ReVenture Park has become a leader in the blossoming era of eco-industrial parks. Such parks cater to businesses that work with one another and the local community to cut waste and pollution and efficiently share resources. One company’s byproduct, for example, may become another firm’s feedstock. ReVenture Park was developed by Charlotte-based Forsite Development, though founder Tom McKittrick didn’t start with the goal of creating green-collar jobs. He kicked off Forsite in 2004 to buy corporate surplus industrial real estate and attract new companies that were expanding or relocating to the Southeast. He’d gotten the idea when working for Carmel, Ind.-based Lauth Property Group as he drove around the Carolinas and noticed the abundance of warehouses and industrial buildings left in the wake of manufacturing’s exodus overseas. He opened Lauth’s first Southeast office.

He originally sought out buildings with high ceilings and located on major interstates that could be easily rehabbed and filled with new tenants. Then the Great Recession arrived and debt dried up. Pondering his next move, McKittrick thought about the shuttered plant sites he’d passed over that had critical infrastructure such as on-site power generation, central steam plants, wastewater treatment and rail access. He started thinking about how this infrastructure could be repurposed to attract more sustainable business, including renewable energy. That thinking led Foresite to develop a 667-acre former Superfund site in northwest Charlotte, the former Sandoz Chemical Corp. plant (later known as the Martin-Marietta/Sodyeco or Clariant Corp.) renamed ReVenture Park. McKittrick’s ReVenture Park Investment I LLC paid $2.34 million for about 304 acres, according to a Charlotte Business Journal report in 2011.

McKittrick’s initial projections of $900 million in new investment and 1,100 jobs haven’t panned out yet: one key reason was Mecklenburg County’s 2011 decision to cancel a planned $200 million project to use garbage and yard waste for a power plant after Sierra Club objections. But the developer has soldiered on, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave ReVenture its “Excellence in Site Reuse Award” in 2014. McKittrick’s optimistic that momentum is building as sustainability and alternative energy become more entrenched business themes.

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