ASHEBORO —The North Carolina Zoo’s Horticulture Division was one of the first-place winners of the 2007 N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, DENR, Sustainability Awards given March 11 at Raleigh.  DENR, the zoo’s parent department in Raleigh, presented the annual awards in three categories: Individual Small Project, Individual Large Project, and Group Project.  The zoo’s Horticulture Division received the first-place award in the “Group Project” for their work on an American Chestnut tree reintroduction program. The award was given to the Horticulture staff members for their initiative to reintroduce the American Chestnut tree to the southern Appalachian region near Asheville in hopes of demonstrating that this once very endangered tree can be reintroduced and survive.

Joining N.C. Zoo arborist Bob McCrory to receive the award, Zoo Director Dr. David Jones acknowledged the partnership between the N.C. Zoo and Trees Asheboro. Jones invited Tim Womick and Owen George both from Trees Asheboro to the stage to recognize their participation in the award-winning project.  Varying from the normal practice of presenting a first, second, and third award in each of the three categories DENR presented three first-place awards in this year’s “Group Project” category. The two other first-place category winners went to members of the North Carolina Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program for their work on the Low Impact Development Demonstration and Oil-Recycling Demonstration Project and to the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Oyster-Shell Recycling Program for their work in managing a statewide program to rebuild North Carolina’s oyster habitats.

Presiding at the meeting and presenting the awards was DENR Deputy Secretary Bill Laxton. The award ceremony is a function of the DENR Sustainability Team.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources William G. Ross Jr. Secretary; Michael F. Easley Governor.