Director of Botany at Penn's Morris Arboretum Receives Environmental Award

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Media Contact:Susan Crane | cranesj@upenn.edu | (215) 247-5777 x121November 5, 2013

On October 24, the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy presented Dr. Timothy Block of Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania with the 2013 Advocate of the Watershed Environmental Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to the local environment.

The Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy presents awards annually to ensure that community efforts to protect and improve the local environment are publicly acknowledged. Andrew Meadows, Conservancy Board Chair, shared enthusiastically, “It is our great pleasure to recognize these outstanding contributors to our local environment.  With a 362 square-mile watershed, the scale of what the Conservancy is able to accomplish is due to a great network of volunteers, concerned citizens and organizations. We are all grateful to these individuals and organizations for helping to maintain the Perkiomen Creek Watershed as a wonderful place to live, work and play.” Award recipients or their work must be located within the 362 square-mile Perkiomen Creek Watershed. Dr. Block is a resident of Zieglerville, PA.

The Conservancy also released a statement specific to Dr. Block’s award, stating, "The selection committee was impressed by Dr. Block's unwavering support and involvement with the Conservancy over a span of many years.  As the Director of Botany of the Morris Arboretum, his initiative and action to identify the European water chestnut in Lake Delmont and alert the Conservancy has been fundamental to our work to eradicate the aquatic invasive plant locally.  In addition, his teaching a number of Out & About classes has added a wonderful depth to our educational offerings for learners of all ages.  Actively educating and inspiring others to appreciate and protect the treasures of the Perkiomen Creek Watershed are strong evidence of Dr. Block's commitment to the local environment and have earned him this recognition."
 
Since its inception as a public garden, the Morris Arboretum has served as a center for botanical research. With a focus on the occurrence of the native and naturalized plants that inhabit Pennsylvania, the Botany department at the Morris Arboretum, led by Director of Botany Dr. Timothy Block since 2000, recognizes the continued importance of understanding the dynamic nature of the flora, and seeks to gain insight into these changes through work in the field, laboratory, and at the computer.  The Pennsylvania Flora database, which is comprised of more than 400,000 plant records, helps store and disseminate the data that is obtained through the research. The database has provided information supporting recent books authored by Block and his colleague, Dr. Ann Rhoads, including the Plants of Pennsylvania, Aquatic Plants of Pennsylvania, and Trees of Pennsylvania.  Also, in 2007 Block and colleagues submitted the Montgomery County the Natural Areas Inventory Update, providing guidance to Montgomery County on protection priorities for open space.
 
The department’s research efforts are also setting precedents in Pennsylvania. Recently, a series of resource recovery plans for several plant species considered among the most critically imperiled in Pennsylvania was completed.  This work is distinctive as never before have recovery plans for plant species been created and implemented in the Commonwealth. These recovery plans delineate strategies that promote protection of these species and their habitats, and allow for species recovery and stability. This work was supported by a generous grant from the Pennsylvania Wild Resource Conservation Program.  Funding has also been secured from WRCP to complete a second set of resource recovery plans.  To learn more about the groundbreaking research being conducted by the Botany department at the Morris Arboretum visit www.paflora.org.

The Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy’s mission is to serve all who live, work and play within the Perkiomen Creek Watershed by conserving and protecting the land and water resources of its 362 square-miles. Founded in 1964 to combat pollution in the Perkiomen Creek and its tributaries, today the Conservancy helps ensure quality drinking water for hundreds of local communities including Philadelphia. Passionate about the natural world, environmental stewardship and community, the Conservancy’s strategic focus is to educate, inspire and provide tools for action.

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