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E-M:/ Outstanding Environmentalists Honored By Ecology Center

Title: Outstanding Environmentalists Honored By Ecology Cente

For Immediate Release

Contact: Gregory Button (734) 761-3186 x 113

Outstanding Environmentalists Honored at the Annual Meeting of the Ecology Center

(January 28, 2002-Ann Arbor)  Environmentalists were honored for their outstanding contributions to environmental activism at the Ecology Center's Annual Meeting on January 27, 2002. Ecology Center Director Mike Garfield said,  "the award recipients were chosen for their exceptional efforts to protect the environment and the health and well-being of Michigan residents."  Those honored are as follows:  

Karen Kavanaugh
Karen Kavanaugh has been the planning director for the Southwest Detroit Business Association for almost two years.  She is the co-chair of Communities for a Better Rail Alternative, a coalition of more than 45 organizations and 800 individuals, which is fighting to stop MDOT's plan to expand Junction Rail Yard in Southwest Detroit.  An outgrowth of NAFTA-based trade liberalization, the proposal would destroy occupied homes and local businesses in several neighborhoods, and would increase local truck traffic by eight times over what it is now.  She has led a powerful neighborhood movement to confront state officials, their consultants and the railroad companies in public forums and private meetings.

Brian McKenna
        For three years Brian McKenna worked for the Ingham County Health Department, researching environmental health problems in the county.  When his final report identified serious health problems county officials suppressed the report. Late last year PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) published his report on their national website. As a result of Brian's persistence and courage the county's attempt to cover-up vital health risks was exposed. Brian McKenna continues to bring to light to important issues in the Lansing area through his column in the alternative weekly newspaper, City Pulse.

Milan Area Concerned Citizens (MACC)
      In the Milan area, MACC successfully stopped General Motors and the Ann Arbor Railroad from constructing what would have been one of the country's largest rail/car yards to store new vehicles before distribution.  The project would have destroyed thousands of acres of the area's finest farmland.  Members of MACC have also worked with other Milan-area environmental groups to address major groundwater, air pollution, and land preservation problems there. Aretta Schils accepted the award on behalf of MACC.

Jeff Surfus
Since 1997, Jeff Surfus, of Dexter, has led Michigan activists in opposing the shipment of waste into Michigan from Toronto, other parts of Canada, and other states.  He has almost single-handedly raised the profile of this issue, and has successfully pressured City of Toronto officials to adopt a plan to create what would be North America's best recycling program.

Based in Ann Arbor, the Ecology Center is a regional environmental organization that works for clean air, safe water, healthy communities, and environmental justice.


Gregory Button, Ph.D.
Communications Director
The Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 x 113
(734) 663-2414 (fax)