Awards to honor top grass-roots environmental programs in Texas

Texas communities have until Feb. 5 to submit applications for Keep Texas Beautiful's 2013 Governor's Community Achievement Awards, an annual program recognizing the state's best grass-roots environmental programs.

In March, a panel of judges will choose 10 communities in the state to receive portions of funding to improve local rights of way with landscaping. The Texas Department of Transportation will provide $2 million to the program.

KTB aims to educate and engage Texans to take responsibility for improving their community environment, said Melissa Trahan Pecorino, events and marketing director.

"There are three focus areas we use to tie in to that—litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction," she said. "If you look at the application, you can see people win points for their litter prevention efforts and their beautification efforts, so it really goes hand in hand with what Keep Texas Beautiful does throughout the year."

Cities with more than 180,000 residents can enter to win a $310,000 grant. Austin ranked third in that category last year and was one of 19 communities with a score of 90 or higher, according to KTB.

San Marcos won first place last year in the 40,001–65,000 residents category, receiving a $250,000 grant. Every community in Texas is eligible to apply, according to KTB, which defines a community as a region or regions with shared or adjoining boundaries, and beautification and litter abatement programs administered by the same organization.

Executive Director Cathie Gail said the participants' activism serves as inspiration for other cities throughout the state.

"The winning communities really exemplify what Keep Texas Beautiful is all about," she said.

Judges will evaluate each environmental program's community leadership and coordination, property improvement, education, public awareness, litter prevention and cleanup, illegal dumping enforcement, and solid waste management. KTB will present plaques and checks to winners at its 46th Annual Conference on June 17–20 at the Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio.

The 2013 application is available here: