2017 Watershed Heroes Award Recipients Announced

“Heroes” will be honored at November 2 Sunset Celebration
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Minnetonka, Minn. – People are working every day, and in all kinds of ways, to improve the quality of the lakes, streams and wetlands within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD). MCWD will recognize some of those exemplary stewards of our water resources at its 50th anniversary Sunset Celebration on Thursday, November 2 at St. Mary’s Lake Calhoun Event Center in Minneapolis. The celebration will feature live music, food and drink, interactive displays, and more.

The accomplishments of the 2017 Watershed Hero award recipients run the gamut of clean water work: water-friendly design in large scale development, private businesses preserving and restoring their property, partners researching ways to manage invasive species like carp, students learning and applying lessons to the watershed, and residents educating their neighbors on how to protect our lakes, streams and rivers. The awards, which have been given out annually since the MCWD’s 40th anniversary in 2007, have been restructured to reflect the guiding principles of the District: Partnership, Innovation, Excellence, Sound Science and Service. They also include a Young Naturalist Award and a Lifetime Stewardship Award in memory of Cynthia Krieg, who dedicated her life to natural resource protection and public service.

“While there are certainly significant challenges facing clean water, the Watershed Heroes awards offer a great opportunity to remember how many people are making a real, positive impact in our communities and specifically the Minnehaha Creek watershed,” said Sherry White, MCWD Board of Managers President. “Each of these Heroes approaches the issue of water quality from a different angle and each sets an example for others to follow.”   

The public is invited to attend the 50th anniversary Sunset Celebration. The event begins at 6:30pm with a reception featuring hors d’oeuvres and live music followed by the presentation of the Watershed Heroes awards. Tickets are $40 and can be reserved online. To register or learn more, visit www.minnehahacreek.org/sunset-celebration.

The 2017 Watershed Hero award recipients are:

Partnership Award:  Japs-Olson Company
For its commitment to partnership in achieving an environmentally friendly expansion of its business that was the culmination of several years of work with the District. Japs-Olson Company worked in partnership with the District to treat stormwater from the expansion and the surrounding area, and donated nearly four acres of land for restoration and improved public access to the Minnehaha Creek Preserve and the Minnehaha Creek Greenway. The project involved a complex series of agreements with the Cities of Hopkins and St. Louis Park and resulted in a project that improves water quality, ecological integrity and community connectivity, and is projected to create 150 jobs.

Innovation Award:  Lennar Corporation
For its hard work and creative spirit in its pursuit of a 99-unit residential development in Victoria. By working in coordination with the City of Victoria and the District, the project will restore 12 acres and permanently protect 23.5 acres of public water wetland, which is beyond Lennar’s regulatory obligation. Its willingness to invest in natural resources locally enabled the restoration of a priority wetland that’s in the Six Mile Subwatershed, which is a priority area for improvement projects.

Excellence Award:  Park Nicollet
For its leadership and vision in improving Minnehaha Creek, which sparked the creation of the Minnehaha Creek Greenway – a series of improvements that restores the natural curves to the creek, improves wildlife habitat, creates new access to green space and connects communities. Park Nicollet’s commitment to balancing excellent service to the community and supporting ecological integrity in the landscape continued with the construction of a flood wall in 2017 that resulted in a six-acre wetland restoration. 

Sound Science Award:  Dr. Peter Sorensen
For his commitment to researching common carp’s impact on our water resources and developing an integrated protocol to sustainably control common carp in a system. Dr. Sorensen’s ground-breaking research has improved the understanding of the role carp has played in damaging ecosystems and has provided a path forward to effective management strategies.

Service Award:  Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA
For their collective achievement in engaging a broad network of congregations in the watershed to increase awareness of water quality issues and spark stewardship of the natural resources in their communities. Over the past two years, congregations have hosted stewardship events, adopted sustainable property maintenance practices, educated their congregants about clean water and pursued sustainable measures to mitigate polluted stormwater runoff

Young Naturalist Award:  The Blake School Fourth Grade Class
For their creativity and enthusiasm in learning about the importance of our water resources and how to protect them from stormwater runoff. Through a combination of classroom and field learning experiences, the students demonstrated their new-found knowledge through the creation of 3-D models of the Minnehaha Creek Greenway to visualize and demonstrate runoff, cleanups along the creek and nearby storm drains, and tours of the watershed. Their efforts serve as a role model for experiential learning that connects people to our water resources.

Cynthia Krieg Lifetime Stewardship Award: Peggy Knapp
For her dedication to protecting water resources, which has had a lasting impact on lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands across the region and the state. Hired as the Freshwater Society’s Director of Programs 2010, Knapp has designed and implemented a multitude of civic engagement programs including the Master Water Stewards Program which was founded in the MCWD in 2013 and is being expanded statewide.

Known for her dynamic communications style and work on multiple platforms including television, Knapp has inspired and educated countless citizens to protect Minnesota’s water resources. She is a natural leader and collaborator who knows how to bring people together to solve problems and get things done. 

Knapp retired from the Freshwater Society in June 2017.