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River Operations partner earns major environmental award

by on December 6, 2013
Chad Pregracke, owner and founder of Living Lands and Waters, was named the 2013 CNN “Hero of the Year.”

(Story by Jennifer Mason)

One of AEP River Operations’ key partners in river cleanups and other environmental activities recently received a major environmental award.

Chad Pregracke, owner and founder of Living Lands and Waters (LLW), was named the 2013 CNN “Hero of the Year,” earning him $250,000. Pregracke also earned $50,000 for being named one of the top 10 CNN Heroes. Pregracke was honored Nov. 19 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. During the show, Pregracke pledged to give $10,000 each to the other nine heroes. The 10 honorees were selected from over 50,000 submissions from more than 100 countries.

LLW is a nonprofit environmental organization that has grown to be the only “industrial strength” river cleanup organization like it in the world, according to the LLW website. The values and objectives of LLW meld with the environmental mission of AEP River Operations, creating a seamless partnership in the protection and preservation of our nation’s waterways.

LLW hosts river clean-up events every year and AEP River Operations is a longtime participant in the Paducah Marine Challenge. River Operations employees travel from the St. Louis, Mo., and Paducah, Ky., offices and join other river industry employees to clean up debris and trash from the banks of the Ohio River. AEP River Operations also donates the use of its workboats to transport volunteer employees and bags of trash collected on the river during the cleanup.

“I’ll just keep on cleaning up America’s rivers and loving every minute of it,” Pregracke told CNN when he accepted the award. “The garbage got into the water one piece at a time and that’s the only way it’s going to come out.”

As part of the “Mliion Trees Project,” AEP River Operations employees work side-by-side with the Living Lands and Water staff and plant 300 tree saplings along the banks of the Mississippi River each year.

Pregracke also began the “Million Trees Project” with the intent of taking its restoration and education efforts to the next level. LLW collects and plants acorns and, after two-to-three growing seasons, the trees are replanted within the towns that participate in the program. AEP River Operations works side-by-side with the LLW staff and plants 300 tree saplings along the banks of the Mississippi River each year.

AEP River Operations is committed to the marine environment and is a major sponsor of LLW. The company also provides free towing for any LLW equipment on the rivers if called upon.

View a video of Pregracke on CNN’s “New Day” show. Pregracke also was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. CNN’s All-Star Tribute program aired Dec. 1 and will run again Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. CST on CNN.

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