Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region


Delaware Presents 2009 Wetland Warrior Award to CBFO Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator

DENREC Secretary Collin O'Mara and Delaware Governor Jack Markell present the Wetland Warrior Award to Al Rizzo (center).
DENREC Secretary Collin O'Mara and Delawaare Governor Jack Markell present the Wetland Warrior Award to Al Rizzo (center).

Delaware Governor Jack Markell and Delaware Department of Natural Resources And Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara presented Al Rizzo, soil scientist and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator for Delaware and Maryland, with the 2009 The Wetland Warrior Award. The award is presented to an individual or group in recognition of exemplary efforts that benefit wetlands through education and outreach, monitoring and assessment , or restoration and protection.

Al has improved the future for Delaware wetlands and the services that they provide to the citizens of Delaware by restoring thousands of acres of degraded and former wetlands. He generously shares his knowledge of wetlands by educating the public on the value of wetlands and training other scientists on innovative techniques.

Al has worked tirelessly to bring wetland restoration techniques into the 21st Century by using methods to restore and improve areas to emulate natural wetlands. He did away with smoothing areas to emulate swimming pools and replaced that with a model of humps and bumps referred to as microtopography and placed stumps and logs to look like the natural ground of wetlands. These techniques provide habitat for a greater variety of insects, birds, amphibians, retiles and plants.

It’s hard to compile an exact figure of acres of Delaware wetlands that he has restored because not only had he initiated projects on this own but gave his expertise to many more project. One colleague estimated that 5,000 acres would be a conservative estimate.
Al is dedicated to sharing what he has learned with the public and other professionals. He is an active member of the Mid-Atlantic Hydric Soils Committee and described as a “soil scientist of the highest caliber.”  He participates in trainings on understanding soils and performing restoration. He is always willing to visit proposed restoration sites with partners and provide suggestions based on this experience.

Al had not only increased the amount of wetlands in Delaware but the functioning of these wetlands. He has made a significant improvement to Delaware that will last for generations to come.

Last updated: January 6, 2011