An ‘outstanding contribution above and beyond the call of duty’ was the glowing description of the Environment Agency’s Liz Chalk at a recent awards ceremony.
Liz won the Association of River Trusts’ (ART) Public Sector Award for her work over many years to improve the environment in the north east, and particularly in the Yorkshire Dales.
Liz has worked for the Environment Agency and its predecessors for over 27 years, and is a technical specialist in biodiversity. Her work has included several major land and water management projects in Yorkshire over the last decade.
One of them, the Upper Wharfedale Best Practice Project running from 1998 to 2002 aimed to work with landowners and farmers to show how land could be managed in ways that improved it.
Liz co-ordinated and completed the project with her team. Every riverbank farmer, landowner and fishing club was visited to help develop the plans for river bank management and enhancement, leading to a great increase in the knowledge of the area and some complex and innovative improvements.
Liz’s team’s achievements included using different ways of blocking moorland ‘grips’, or drainage channels, creating wildlife corridors along the river, and relocating a section of floodbank so the river could move more freely within the floodplain. All these projects were to improve the storage of water, reduce flood risk and restore wildlife habitats.
Liz later worked in Wensleydale, developing and widening the experience gained in Wharfedale as she set up and ran the River Ure Management Group, and produced a Ure Initiative Strategy in 2004.
Liz said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic opportunities to work in beautiful areas with some great people, and they must take much of the credit for this award. I’m delighted to have this work recognised by the Association of River Trusts, and also our local Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust, whose job is to care for the rivers of the Dales.”
Liz has also done work on the Pennines, ensuring the Environment Agency’s regulatory work fitted in with the varied needs of wildlife, and on the Humber estuary. The Humber work tied in with her Wensleydale experience when she arranged long-running surveys to develop knowledge of lampreys and their spawning and larval activities.
Her last task was to lead a strategic partnership to produce a plan for the North Yorkshire Rivers Renaissance. This aims to improve the biodiversity and leisure possibilities across a large area of the county, whilst managing flood risk and tourism in both rural and urban areas.
Nick Buck, Secretary of the Yorkshire Dales River Trust said:
“I’d like to congratulate Liz on her award, for an outstanding contribution above and beyond the call of duty – she’s put in many hours of diligent work to safeguard the future and wellbeing of large areas of the Dales and North Yorkshire, and she fully deserves recognition for it.
“In particular, Liz recognised at an early stage that the Rivers Trust movement had a valuable role to play in river catchment and habitat management. Liz encouraged and actively supported the formation of YDRT, which has its origins in some of the work that she initiated.”