START was well represented at the first annual Climate Champions Beacon Awards presented by the Climate Adaption Center at a luncheon at Michael’s On East on April 18th. Founding START Board member, Ed Chiles, was honored for his work with the All Clams On Deck Program and Charles Reith received the award for his pioneering work with Microforests.

Ed Chiles’ write up in the program read: Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor are increasingly at risk of impaired water quality and declining seagrass coverage. Ed Chiles decided to help tackle the problem by launching ALL Clams On Deck, an organization aimed at restoring clams and seagrass to our waterways, helping to restore water quality and grow the coastal economy. All Clams On Deck is an initiative of the Gulf Coast Shellfish Institute, a leader in research for sustainable aquaculture and healthy ecosystems.

Charles Reith’s coverage in the event brochure read: Microforests are powerful agents to improve the quality of our coastal waters and combat climate change. They intercept an enormous quantity of stormwater that could otherwise carry unwanted nutrients to the Bay, potentially fueling algal blooms. Thanks to Charles Reith and the Suncoast Urban Reforesters (SURF), many high performance microforests have been planted on small parcels of land not earmarked for development and they are planning more along the Florida Suncoast.

Congratulations to ED and Charles for this well-earned honor.

Other local Climate Champions honored at the luncheon were Jon Thaxton, Vice President of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Bill Waddill, COO of the Bay Park Conservancy and Jennifer and David Shafer Executive Directors of the Science and Environment Council of Southwest Florida. Jon Thaxton was acknowledged for his work over the years to protect Florida’s natural spaces, wildlife habitats and waterways. Bill Waddill was chosen for his innovative environmental work at Bay Park, the Bradenton Riverwalk and the Babcock Ranch Town Center in Ft. Myers. Jennifer and David Shafer were selected for their leadership with the Climate Council of Sarasota-Manatee, a network of experts and practitioners working on climate change issues in the region.

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