Caledonian photographer, retired DEC officer is recipient of EMC Earth Day Award | Local News

GENESEO – Richard Thomas, a lifelong advocate for protecting nature and natural resources, is the recipient of the 2022 Earth Day Award presented by the Livingston County Environmental Management Council.

The award was presented during a meeting of the Livingston County Board of Trustees on April 27.

“It’s really an honor,” said Thomas, a Caledonian resident who retired from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. “I really appreciate counties that have Environmental Management Boards because they are not mandated to have them, and I think there are only one in 26 or 30 counties in the state that have an EMC. I think they are very progressive as far as local government and protecting the environment,

so I’m very flattered.”

The annual award, presented by the Livingston County Environmental Management Board, is given to an individual or organization to recognize outstanding achievements directed toward helping preserve, enhance, or educate about the Livingston County environment. The achievement may have occurred during the previous year, or it may involve ongoing efforts lasting several years.

Thomas, an accomplished photographer who often features landscapes in his work, has a 32-year career in environmental law enforcement with the state DEC.

“In that role he was part of efforts to protect natural resources in 11 counties in New York State, including Livingston County. As an environmental conservation officer at DEC, District 8 in Avon, she investigates environmental crimes,” said EMC member Patti LaVigne.

Thomas said the protection of local wildlife is more important than ever.

“We do have an obligation to keep this planet sustainable for us. We are directly connected to everyone here,” said Thomas. “We have our indicator species like the spotted tortoise. I know one small population here in the city of Caledonia. I used to know a lot of spotted tortoises but at $500 on the internet illegal market they went fast.”

Also moving fast are the snakes in the area, which some may not know about.

“We have wood rattlesnakes, only a few in the county, along Letchworth Park and it’s a wonderful animal that comes out of a hole in the ground in the spring, walks 5 miles and then months later retraces its own scent. traces return directly to scent trails themselves, with some of them crossing the Genesee River to do so,” said Thomas.

Other animals – pollinators like bees and other insects – are other things he says some people take for granted, but need to be more aware of how they do it.

Thomas said he was grateful for the award, but more importantly, grateful for being a resident of Livingston County.

“We are experiencing climate change and it is good to see that this district and this district government tend to be the leaders when it comes to these things,” said Thomas. “I think it’s great to get this award today, but I want you all to know that I really appreciate what you’re doing,” Thomas said.

The Environmental Management Council was formed in 1979 to work with the Board of Trustees, local municipalities, and citizens to protect, conserve, develop, and use the district’s natural resources. The board members are all volunteers.

This award is usually given during a meeting of the Livingston County Board of Trustees around Earth Day.

Previous recipients of the award include the Conesus Lakes Association Water Quality Committee, Brian Sheldon, a teacher of earth and environmental sciences at Livonia Central School; Katherine Humphrey and her family, owners of the All Western Evergreen Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm in Springwater; Lake Conesus supporter Jack Baldwin, who in 2018 became the first two-time winner of the award; Geneseo Central School science teacher Randy French, SUNY Geneseo FORCES, or Friends of Recreation Conservation and Environmental Stewardship, club, Harold M. “Tim” Shay, Davis Nagel, naturalists Ron Walker, Jean Meekin and the Keshequa Central School District Earth Club.

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