Ohio River Islands named 2009 environmental leadership refuge of the year
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has selected Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge for the 2009 Refuge of the Year Environmental Leadership Award. The award annually recognizes Service facilities and individuals for their outstanding leadership and commitment to the environment.
The Ohio River Islands refuge was recognized for construction and operation of its administrative building and visitor center in Williamstown, W.V. Built in 2008 on a former farm, the structure is an ENERGY STAR building incorporating local, recycled and renewable materials.
“One of our goals with the visitor center was to showcase environmental sustainability,” said Dean Rhine, refuge manager. “We believe that using fewer natural resources to build and operate this structure supports our wildlife conservation mission.”
Plans and construction endeavored to minimize disturbance to the refuge’s natural habitats. Many of the materials used in construction were made of recycled content, minimizing the demand for virgin materials and reducing the burden on landfills. When possible, local and regional materials were used both to support the local economy and to reduce the amount of fossil fuels used to transport goods.
“I am proud of the work being done at Ohio River Islands refuge,” said Marvin Moriarty, the Service’s northeast regional director. “At many of our facilities throughout the northeast we are working to reduce our carbon footprint and to be part of the solution to climate change.”
The building’s ENERGY STAR rating is an important feature of the refuge’s comprehensive greening program. The building uses natural daylight and energy-efficient lighting throughout, as well as occupancy sensors to turn lights off when not in use. The building’s energy performance for 2009 was 28 percent better than an average building. In addition, the building incorporates a high efficiency furnace and a geothermal system to enhance energy performance.
The refuge also has an active recycling program, and has recently purchased a hybrid vehicle.
Established in 1990, the Ohio River Islands refuge conserves habitat in one of our nations busiest inland waterways. class=“41” The refuge extends along 362 miles of the upper Ohio River and protects 22 scattered islands and three mainland properties. Migratory birds and endangered freshwater mussels are among the important wildlife conserved by the refuge.
Visitors to the visitor center and administration building can learn about fish and wildlife of the Ohio River in exhibits and view a 1,200-gallon aquarium featuring live Ohio River fish. The refuge also offers hunting, fishing, bird watching, hiking and other recreational opportunities. Information about the refuge can be found at
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