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Our Mission

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The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program is a public and private partnership supported by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Master Naturalist Foundation. Our program recruits, trains, manages, and provides resources for our Naturalist members participating in interpretation and outreach, resource management, citizen science, and outdoor skills and recreation in Nebraska.

Photo by Adrian Olivera

Our Impact to Date Since 2010

  • Trained Master Naturalists

    685

  • Volunteer Hours

    109,473

  • Volunteer Projects

    9,000

  • Impact Value

    $3481241

News & Notes

WILLISTON, Vt. (April 17, 2024) – Starting this summer, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC), with EPA oversight, will break ground on a remedial action for the cleanup of groundwater at the Commerce Street Plume Superfund Site in Williston, Vermont. The goal of this work is to cleanup groundwater to meet VTDEC drinking water requirements and prevent the spread of trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination. More information on this work can be found in VTDEC factsheet: Commerce Street Plume Superfund Site Groundwater Remedial Action Update (pdf) (1.1 MB).

In order to inform the local community about the construction activities happening at the site, VTDEC is hosting a public meeting on April 29, 2024 at 6 p.m. at the Williston Town Hall (7900 Williston Rd, Williston, VT 05495) with representatives from EPA in attendance. Join the meeting in person or virtually by clicking this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84071718141.

"Superfund cleanups can be a long road for communities. Fortunately, the influx of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is propelling these cleanups forward, especially in communities with environmental justice concerns," said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "This is once again a positive partnership between the federal government and the state. When partners can come together and do necessary work, local communities are the ones who reap the benefits."

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide $15 million to this project in the form of a Cooperative Agreement to VTDEC with oversight from EPA to start the physical construction of the groundwater cleanup. This work is expected to begin the summer of 2024 and will be on various properties throughout the Williston, Vermont community.

"Investments like these not only clean up contaminated sites but also protect the health and well-being of our communities. I commend the collaborative efforts between our federal and state partners for their commitment to environmental stewardship for the betterment of Vermonters," said VTDEC Commissioner Jason Batchelder.

Background

The Commerce Street Plume Superfund Site is located in an industrial park in Williston, Vermont. The site includes a one-acre property at 96 Commerce Street containing a 6,000-square-foot building. Beginning in 1960, various manufacturing and electroplating operations occurred on the property. Due to the site's previous use in manufacturing operations, the primary source of contamination was an unlined lagoon at the property which was used to dispose of industrial rinse water and sludge waste. During a 1982 investigation of the site, the State of Vermont found the company operating there in violation of hazardous waste regulations for the disposal of chromium-contaminated wastes. Facility operations and disposal practices resulted in contaminated soil, sediment and groundwater with metals and industrial solvents. The site was added to EPA's Superfund National Priority List in 2005.

Previous Cleanup Activities

In 2017, about 830 cubic yards of contaminated soil was excavated and disposed off-site as part of site restoration activities and in 2018, planting, seeding, and grading were completed. The soil remediation for the site is complete and is currently in the operation and maintenance phase.

From 2018 – 2021, vapor mitigation and construction were performed at a property on South Brownell Road by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. The remedial design for the groundwater component of the remedy was completed in June 2019.

More information:

Commerce Street Plume Superfund Site Webpage

NEW YORK (April 17, 2024) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a plan to protect people living and working in residential and commercial buildings at the Meeker Avenue Plume Superfund Site in the Greenpoint/East Williamsburg area of Brooklyn. Groundwater and soil in the area is contaminated with chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs), which can vaporize into soil and seep into buildings through their foundations. The agency is extending the public comment period, which was set to end on May 10 to a new deadline for public comments of June 25. The EPA held a public meeting on April 16 to explain this proposed plan.

Under the proposal, EPA would install special systems called sub-slab depressurization systems where needed and take preventative measures such as the sealing of cracks and gaps in the lowest level of a structure, where necessary. Sub-slab depressurization involves connecting a blower (an electric fan) to a small suction pit dug into the slab in order to vent vapors outdoors. EPA’s plan reflects the estimated costs for mitigation of up to 100 structures within the Meeker Ave site study area. The plan estimates that EPA’s work will be conducted on an ongoing basis for at least 5 years, the approximate time frame needed for EPA to complete the vapor intrusion sampling necessary.

The EPA is working closely with property owners and area residents to ensure that work is done with minimal disruption. EPA is continuing to investigate the entire site to determine the full nature and extent of contamination.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to Rupika Ketu, Remedial Project Manager, EPA, 290 Broadway, 18th floor, NY, NY, 10007, ketu.rupika@epa.gov

EPA’s proposed cleanup proposal will be available at Meeker Avenue Plume Superfund Site.

Follow EPA Region 2 on X and visit our Facebook page. For more information about EPA Region 2, visit our website.

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Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11) celebrated one of EPA's first Clean School Bus grants under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law being awarded to Fairfax County Public Schools during a ceremony at Lorton Station Elementary School in Lorton, Virginia.

 

Student speaking at podium.

A Student from Fairfax County Public School speaks during the event.

With county and local leaders, school officials, and representatives from nonprofits also in attendance, the event commemorated the $16.5 million grant, made possible through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, that will bring 42 electric buses to the Fairfax County Public School bus fleet for cleaner air and a healthier quality of life for children across the county.

 

“This is an exciting day to celebrate Fairfax County Public Schools on its journey to a greener future,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “Thanks to the EPA's Clean School Bus grant, this community will receive a boost in its efforts to reduce emissions through sustainable transportation, marking a significant investment that will lead to cleaner air, healthier students and a greener tomorrow.”

 

During the event, elected leaders and other stakeholders highlighted the importance of EPA’s Clean School Bus program in transitioning from older diesel engines linked to asthma and other conditions.

 

“Fairfax County is home to one of the largest school districts in the country,” said U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (VA-11). “Every day, thousands of students, staff, and parents are in and around school buses, exposed by no choice of their own to diesel exhaust and other toxins. That changes today. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I voted for, and President Biden signed into law, Fairfax County will soon be home to 42 brand new electric school buses. That’s good news for our planet and it’s good news for our students. Today is a great day for Fairfax County, and I am so proud to be part of it.”

 

The EPA announced Fairfax County Public Schools’ selection through EPA’s first Clean School Bus Program grants competition in January 2024.

 

This grant will provide some of the first EPA-funded electric clean school buses to Fairfax County Public Schools, which partnered with Dominion Energy for infrastructure installation. The 42 new electric buses will join the current Fairfax County Public Schools bus fleet responsible for transporting more than 141,000 students daily

 

“We are honored and excited to be among the recipients of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Awards,” said Dr. Michelle Reid, Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. “This recognition not only underscores our commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship but also reflects our ongoing efforts to provide healthier, cleaner transportation for all Fairfax County Public Schools students.”

 

EPA’s Clean School Bus Program provides an unprecedented $5 billion of funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to transform the nation’s fleet of school buses. It funds clean school buses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save money for school districts, and produce cleaner air. 

 

The program delivers on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

 

Visit the EPA’s website for more information on the Clean School Bus program.

Speaker at podium during an event.

 
Photo by Allison Dush
© 2024 Nebraska Master Naturalist Foundation

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