From The Mountaineer: Haywood Waterways recognizes Water Champions

By Haywood Waterways Association

Haywood Waterways Association honored five “Water Champions” for their work to protect and improve Haywood County’s rivers, streams and reservoirs in 2016. The awards were given at the organization’s annual holiday dinner.

“It’s a challenge to determine who to recognize each year,” said Eric Romaniszyn, executive director of Haywood Waterways Association. “There are so many worthy individuals and organizations. This year we recognized four individuals and one town.”

This year’s recipient of the Pigeon River Award was Gail Heathman, education coordinator for the Haywood Soil and Water Conservation District. The Pigeon River Award is given to the individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to protecting Haywood County’s land and water resources.

Heathman was recognized for her dedication to educating the public about soil and water conservation, particularly with youth through her ongoing Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) Camps, Conservation Field Days and regional Envirothon competition.

Heathman has also been a long-time volunteer at Haywood Waterways’ Kids in the Creek, where she helps students understand how pollution gets into waterways. She also served on the organization’s Board of Directors from 2010-12.

“It is my honor and privilege to work with some terrific people representing a variety of natural resource agencies and nonprofits as well as individuals who simply realize the value of the gift that is ours to conserve and protect — our water,” said Heathman. “We are a team — every single person, young or old, that we can reach to inspire a sense of ownership in our water and other natural resources affects the future of us all.”

The town of Maggie Valley received the Big Creek Award for Partner of the Year for its efforts to protect the Jonathan Creek Watershed. It is one of the cleanest municipal streams in Western North Carolina.

Read more about these excellent citizens here.

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