Peter Bergstrom, a fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was honored with the prestigious 2008 Bernie Fowler Award at Maryland's 13th Annual Tributary Team meeting Feb 7.

The so-called "White Sneaker Award" is named for the former state senator who initiated the annual Patuxent River wade-ins more than 25 years ago to test water turbidity and bring attention to declining water quality. The award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions of a tributary team member to Bay health and habitat.

"For Peter Bergstrom, working to restore the Chesapeake Bay is both his vocation and his avocation," Gov. Martin O'Malley said. "When he is not at his day job with NOAA, he volunteers his services and expertise to any number of groups working to protect the Bay and its tributaries. Peter is an excellent example of the type of knowledgeable citizen activist that plays such an important role in our efforts to restore the Bay."

"I'm honored to be part of the tradition of local environmental awareness and stewardship that Bernie Fowler has promoted for many years," Bergstrom said upon receiving the award. "I look forward to continuing this work with NOAA partners, local watershed groups and the tributary teams."

Established in 1995, Maryland's tributary teams are made up of more than 350 volunteer members-including citizens, business leaders, farmers and government officials,-charged with helping to implement pollution prevention measures in the state's 10 major tributary basins. The ongoing work of the teams is a model for citizen involvement and action.

"We are thrilled that Peter is receiving this award," said Peyton Robertson, the director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office. "It reflects both his hard work as a submerged aquatic vegetation expert with the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and his commitment to the Bay as an active volunteer with the Magothy River Association. Peter continually strives to improve the health of the Bay."

In addition to his work with NOAA, Bergstrom is the volunteer monitoring coordinator with the Magothy River Association and a member of the Maryland Lower Western Shore Tributary Team and the Maryland BayStat Science Advisory Panel. He has worked in Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay cleanup effort since 1989, and has done volunteer water quality monitoring at several sites on the Magothy River since 1991.

Ten Watershed Hero Awards were also awarded by the tributary teams to their members who made exceptional contributions in 2008. They are:

  • Choptank: Bill Wolinski. Team vice chair and a Talbot County Department of Public Works employee.
  • Lower Eastern Shore: Steele Phillips. Farmer and founding member of the tributary team.
  • Lower Potomac: Bob Lewis. Executive director of the St. Mary's River Watershed Association.
  • Lower Western Shore: Bob Gallagher. Attorney and founder and executive director of the West/Rhode Riverkeeper organization.
  • Middle Potomac: Mark Symborski, Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission employee and Montgomery County team representative.
  • Patapsco/Back Tributary Team: Fran Flanigan. Former team chair, longtime executive director of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay; Mary Roby, executive director of the Herring Run Watershed Association; and Halle Van der Gaag, executive director of the Jones Falls Watershed Association.
  • Patuxent River: Mike Leszcz, Vice chair and city of Laurel commissioner.
  • Upper Eastern Shore: John and Ellyn Vail. Citizen volunteers.
  • Upper Potomac: Dan Bard, Soil Conservation District Western Maryland Area coordinator, from the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
  • Upper Western Shore: Laura O'Leary. Harford county high school teacher.

For information about Maryland's Tributary Teams, visit /bay/tribstrat/.