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Actress and environmentalist Sigourney Weaver played Master of Ceremonies last month at the Audubon Society’s annual Women In Conservation award luncheon in New York.

Among the recipients of Audubon’s Rachel Carson Award was Bette Midler for her extraordinary contribution to conservation and the environment.

Specifically, Midler was being recognized for her New York Restoration Project (NYRP), which she founded in 1995 as a response to her initial disappointment to the visual pollution when she first moved to New York City.

In an interview with Good Housekeeping Magazine, Midler said, “I was so upset, I didn’t sleep for weeks… I’m not used to the kind of carelessness and waste that I was seeing. People were throwing their garbage out the window, leaving their lunches on the ground. Finally, I realized I needed to actually do something, even if I had to pick up the stuff with my own hands.”

In the belief that “clean, green neighborhoods are fundamental to the quality of life and that every community in New York City deserves an oasis of natural beauty,” NYRP accomplishments over the past decade include: the establishment of dozens of gardens and saving others from development; the creation of a park out of a dumping ground and raising millions of dollars to restore and develop under-resourced parks; the removal of nearly 1000 tons of garbage and debris from project sites and cleaning up over 400 acres; funding economic redevelopment of waterfront; and, last Fall, the planting of the first of a million more trees in the city.

The Audubon Society, founded over a century ago, recognizes women who show such leadership, energy and endurance with the Rachel Carson Award. Carson was an environmental maverick in her own right, who contributed to the movement in the early 60s when she proved that toxic chemicals used in agriculture were lethal to wildlife and humans alike.

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