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County Recognized for Ozone Reduction Efforts

Jeanette Browning

Assistant Editor

Platte County Citizen

Platte County is working to improve the environment, and those efforts paid off recently when the county was recognized by the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) for its participation in the Ozone Workplace Initiative.

MARC's city-wide initiative to reduce ozone includes air quality forecasts as well as practical reduction techniques to curb ground-level ozone, which comes from emissions from cars, lawn mowers plants and industry. According to MARC, half of all ozone pollution is formed as a result of everyday life. A high concentration of ozone is unhealthy for everyone, but especially people with respiratory illnesses.

Platte County is part of the MARC Workplace Initiative, which urges participants to learn to reduce such emissions and warn employees of high-ozone days and the potential dangers.

Director of Administration Dana Babcock said the county has started with small, simple changes. They alert department heads of ozone alert days, and urge them to carpool and avoid filling up gas tanks on those days. Parks and Recreation and the county?s facilities management try to avoid mowing on high ozone days as well. While the Public Works Department must complete its jobs on time, that department also tries to cut emissions.

"If they can help, they try to," Babcock said. "We just encourage them to do whatever they can do to reduce those emissions."

Some of the big areas of environmental conservation and emission control have been in the Parks Department and at the county-run Shiloh Springs Golf Course. The county's Prairie Restoration Project has been returning native grasses and plants to areas such as the Prairie Creek Greenway.

"Restoring native grasses is of course good for the environment and wildlife, but underlying that is the lack of maintenance," Babcock said. "Any time it takes less mowing it takes up less gas and that means not only fewer emissions, but cost savings."

At Shiloh , areas where it is difficult to grow traditional golf course grasses have also been restored to a more native look.

"That's kind of a different concept for a golf course, where normally everything is very manicured," Babcock added. "The change is good for the wildlife, though, and also cuts down on the chemicals required and the mowing at the course."

Second District Commissioner Jim Plunkett sits on the MARC Air Quality Forum for the county, and he recently publicly thanked Susan Brown of Concerned Citizens of Platte County for her work and assistance. Brown, who has been one of the leading voices against Kansas City Power and Light's Iatan II power station, serves as Plunkett?s alternate on the forum.

Brown in turn thanks Plunkett and Babcock for the county's efforts.

"There is this perception out there that other counties are doing a lot for the environment, but Platte County is really doing some, too," Brown said. "It's simple things, and it not only helps the environment but it helps the county save taxpayer money."

She said the Department of Planning and Zoning have also been allies of environmental conservation efforts.

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