Alice speaking at the 2009 Environmental Summit
Alice's leadership on environmental issues is described in several sections below:
(1) Environmental Protection, (2) Rural Buffer, (3) Parks and Open Space, Sustainable Growth, (4) Regional Transportation, and (5) Gordon's 1998 Environmental Proposals and Related BOCC Actions.
As part of the Lands Legacy Program, Orange County purchased the Blackwood Farm for conservation and future education/recreation purposes. The creation of this program was proposed by Alice in 1998.
Alice's service as a commissioner includes the following initiatives to make environmental protection a significant function of Orange County government:
Orange County joins the Clean Cities Coalition
See the end of this Environmental Record, after Regional Transportation below, for Gordon's 1998 Environmental Proposals and Related BOCC Actions. That section includes the documents referenced in the above paragraph.
Alice has also served as a member and/or commissioner liaison for the Water Resources Committee and the Commission for the Environment, and she is a member of the multi-jurisdictional climate change committee.
A. The Water Resources Committee was established in 1992 to go beyond the county's good work in protecting watersheds and expand it to include an emphasis on ground water as well. As a result of studies completed in cooperation with the USGS, the county now has valuable information concerning ground water availability and quality in Orange County.
Alice was far-sighted in advocating for these studies of our ground water supplies, well before there was any crisis (like a drought), to help us plan for our long-term water needs.
She is also an advocate for the complete implementation of the Water Resources Initiative, to protect and more responsibly utilize the county's water supplies.
B. The Commission for the Environment was established in 1997 to advise the commissioners on environmental matters such as air quality and biological resources and other natural resources. As a result, the commissioners for the first time had a group to provide advice on air quality, for example, and for the first time the county produced a State of the Environment report. In addition, the county now hosts an Environmental Summit.
In recognition of her contributions, the Commission for the Environment dedicated the 2004 State of the Environment Report to Commissioner Alice Gordon. The citation in the Acknowledgements section of the report is shown below:
Click to enlarge the images above
Orange County has now published five State of the Environment reports prepared by the Commission for the Environment in 2000, 2004, 2009, and 2014. Two of those reports, State of the Environment 2004 and State of the Environment 2014, were dedicated to Commissioner Alice Gordon.
C. The Environment and Resource Conservation Department (ERCD) was established as a new department in 1998 and began operations in January 1999, during the early part of Alice's term as chair of the Board of County Commissioners. As a result, the county now has the expertise and the staff to evaluate resources and to buy land and conservation easements.
Orange County purchased Little River Park, in cooperation with its regional partners, as part of the Lands Legacy Program. In 2007 Lands Legacy won the national Excellence in County Planning Award.
After operating the nationally recognized Lands Legacy Program since 2000, Orange County has acquired or protected more than 3000 acres of land, both for natural resource and farmland preservation, and for parks. In 2007, this program won the Excellence in County Planning Award from the National Association of County Planners. It was also a finalist for the National Association of Counties and Trust for Public Lands "County Leadership in Conservation Award." In addition, the ERCD received for this program the N.C. Soil and Water District Society's Unit of Government award in 2004 for "outstanding achievement and contribution to resource-related programs."
Attendees at the celebration of the Cochrane property purchase and preservation included (in front, from left); Alice; Sally Greene, Orange County Commissioner; Pam Hemminger, Mayor of Chapel Hill; and (in back): Johnny Randall, Director of Conservation Programs, NC Botanical Garden, UNC-Chapel Hill.
While she was chair of the Orange County Planning Board, Alice worked toward establishing the historic Joint Planning Agreement (JPA) for Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County. She has been a staunch supporter of the JPA and rural buffer from the very beginning, and received the endorsement of the Alliance for the Rural buffer in the past. An illustration of her support came in the commissioners' decision concerning the county's construction of a new solid waste building. Initially she was the only commissioner to vote against the extension of water and sewer into the rural buffer to service that facility. That decision was later changed by a a unanimous vote of the commissioners, and the building was served by a well and innovative wastewater treatment system instead.
Alice has advocated for wise long-range planning and for environmentally responsible and sustainable growth policies, starting with her service as chair of the Orange County Planning Board, and continuing with her service as a county commissioner. She has also been an advocate for creation of new parks and recreational facilities for people all over the county. The $20 million bond referendum passed in 2001 had money specified for land and a list of parks projects, and several of these parks have now been completed. Two of these parks are Cedar Grove Park in the northern part of the county, and Southern Community Park in the south. Alice believes it is important to continue working for prudent choices of land to purchase and for completion of the park facilities.
Alice at the ribbon cutting at Cedar Grove Park
Southern Community Park
Hollow Rock Nature Park
Alice's work on regional transportation is also part of her environmental advocacy, and she was recognized several years ago by the Orange-Chatham Group of the Sierra Club for her contributions in the area of transportation.
She also received the Goodmon Award from Leadership Triangle for "Exemplary Regional Leadership By An Elected Official" in recognition of her contributions to regional transportation and environmental protection.
See Accomplishments and Goals for Alice's work on regional transportation initiatives.
See Regional Leadership Award for information about the Goodmon Award.
Gordon's 1998 Environmental Proposals and Related BOCC Actions
The documents below include the text of the June 22, 1998 Orange County County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) agenda item, and Alice's two May 25, 1998 memos proposing the new department (ERCD) and the new comprehensive resource conservation program, later named Lands Legacy Program. It also includes an excerpt from the June 22, 1998 minutes describing the approval by the BOCC.