Zoo Society receives Environmental Excellence Award

December 14, 2017

Last month, the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) awarded  Seneca Park Zoo Society and partner, the NYS Department of Transportation, with an Environmental Excellence Award. At the ceremony held at Union College, the Zoo Society and DOT were recognized for their collaborative efforts to restore pollinator habitats along Interstate 390.

The project included altering mowing practices along a six-mile stretch of the interstate (between Mt. Morris and Sonyea), which resulted in 93 acres of naturally regenerating wildflowers for butterflies, bees, and other pollinators to complete their life-cycle free from mowing disruptions.

“Having our Butterfly Beltway program recognized by the New York State DEC shows how a long-term project can continue to grow and evolve to be relevant and impactful years after its creation,” said Tom Snyder, Director of Programming and Conservation Action.

(L-R) Tom Snyder; MaryEllen Papin, Maintenance Environmental Coordinator, NYSDOT; Julie Tighe, Asst. Commissioner Intergovernmental & Legislative Affairs, NYSDEC

More than 13,300 vehicles travel this stretch of I-390 each day. The Zoo Society/NYSDOT team planted pollinator gardens at rest stops to educate the public about pollinator migration and provide information on what they can do to help protect these important species.

Tom adds, “Our collaboration with the NYSDOT to create pollinator habitats is an example of how two different organizations can come together and create a marketable, cost-effective program that benefits the region and serves as a model for other regions to replicate. We are honored to have received this award and are excited to continue building and improving Butterfly Beltway.”

Since 2002, the Zoo Society has been conserving pollinator sites through its Butterfly Beltway program. Anyone can participate in this program, from working with the Zoo to plant a pollinator garden to purchasing native seed packets for your home or business.

Now in its 14th year, the Environmental Excellence Award honors New York organizations and municipalities for their innovative programs and commitment to environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and economic viability. Read about all the DEC’s Environmental Excellence Award recipients here.

Do you want to make a conservation impact on monarch butterflies and other pollinators?