GCV Conservation Chair Karen Jones presents the Dugdale Award to Peg Babyak
(The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula), Dori Chappell, Delegate Albert Pollard and Tyla Matteson.      

The Mattaponi River Runs Free
By Marilyn South
The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula
A highlight of the 2011 Conservation Forum was the announcement of the recipient of the Elizabeth Cabell Dugdale Award, the Alliance to Save the Mattaponi. Delegate Albert C. Pollard, one of the founding members of this grassroots group of citizens, political representatives and non-profit organizations, accepted the award on behalf of the group which also included such noteworthy organizations as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Southern Environmental Center. Thirteen years after its inception, the alliance was successful and the building of the reservoir was stopped. 1,526 acres of a diverse upland/wetland ecosystem, a great blue heron rookery, two federally listed endangered plant species (the sensitive joint vetch and the small whorled pogonia), and a fledgling shad fishery were saved. In addition, Native Americans in the region were saved from the loss of numerous archeological sites, and the river’s basic ecology, such as the water’s salinity, was protected. The Garden Club of the Middle Peninsula recognized the alliance’s invaluable contribution to preserving the river and its environs and nominated it for this important award. 
Alliance members proved that hard work and grassroots support do make a difference. People signed petitions, wrote letters to officials, attended hearings, marched in parades, bought T-shirts, displayed bumper stickers and yard signs. The alliance members learned to get the facts straight, tap knowledgeable resources and speak up. The Mattaponi River runs free today because of the many hundreds of involved alliance members, Delegate Pollard, and concerned citizens who chose to make a difference.

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