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Landowners eligible for grants if they help protect the Great Marsh

WORK OF YOUNG ARTISTS ON DISPLAY - Artwork by students from the Lowell public schools, including “Apples’’ by middle-schooler Shirin Rahman, is on display at the Brush Gallery & Artists’ Studios, Lowell Telecommunications Corp. Gallery, and the Whistler House Museum of Art, all in Lowell, through April. Receptions will be held Saturday at 1-4 p.m.

MARSH MADNESS: The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport wants landowners to become more sensitive to their surroundings.

To that end, it has announced the Slow the Flow campaign and grant program, which offers $500 to $1,000 to people who make lawns and landscaping more environmentally friendly.

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A kick-off workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 31 at refuge headquarters, 6 Plum Island Turnpike. It will address why the Great Marsh needs help and what residents can do to protect the watershed.

Graham Taylor, manager of the refuge, said the Great Marsh is largely protected as conservation land, but the area surrounding it is getting more developed and posing a threat to the marsh.

“More and more water is being withdrawn out of the rivers that flow into Plum Island Sound,’’ he said. “Every year, there are more paved surfaces in the watershed, which increases stormwater runoff and pollutants.’’

Workshop participants can learn from specialists in the field what actions they can take to protect the watershed from these threats.

The workshop is free, but there is a $10 fee for lunch. For reservations, call 978-465-5753.

Examples of eligible projects include those that will reduce impervious surfaces, create rain gardens and native landscaping buffers, or convert lawn care from conventional to organic methods. Landowners must contribute at least 50 percent of project costs.

Projects in Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, West Newbury, or Ipswich will be given priority consideration. Five to 10 grants will be awarded, including one low-impact development project for up to $2,500.

“I’ve lived and worked in the Great Marsh for almost a decade, and everyone I’ve met has shared great memories of exploring beaches, tide pools, kayaking, fishing, hunting, or enjoying the local clams and farm vistas,’’ said Nancy Pau, a wildlife biologist at the refuge. “That’s why I think we all need to do our part to protect the Great Marsh for our children.’’

The deadline for grant applications is April 20 and awards will be made on May 4. To read the full grant announcement and fill out the application, visit pieslowtheflow.com.

WOMEN IN ACTION: More than 100 local people have taken on the challenge of fighting childhood obesity by participating in the North Shore United Way’s new Women in Action initiative.

With a goal of raising $40,000, the group already has exceeded the $25,000 mark. The fund-raising campaign ends April 30.

The Women in Action initiative supports new local programs focused on increasing access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity for low-income families. Grants will be awarded later this spring.

Call 978-922-3966 or visit nsuw.org.

GLOUCESTER HEROES: The Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church is seeking nominations for its 2012 Community Recognition Awards.

Each year, the church honors up to 10 people for voluntary contributions they make to Gloucester. Some are known for simple acts, such as helping neighbors, and others are honored for giving generously to the community.

The nomination deadline is April 13. Nominations must be in writing and include the name and address of the nominee and why he or she should be honored, and the name and contact information of the submitting person. They should be sent to Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, 10 Church St., Gloucester, MA 01930 or e-mailed to gloucesteruu@earthlink.net.

Awards will be made by the church’s social justice committee and announced at a public event at the church May 20.

WHO’S WHAT WHERE: Merrimack Valley Hospice is honoring Scott Cote, president and CEO of Pentucket Bank, at its Legacy of Leading Gala 6 p.m. at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, N.H. Cote is being recognized for his dedication to caring for hospice patients and his commitment to the Merrimack Valley Hospice House in Haverhill, which opened in June 2009. Tickets are $125 per person, with proceeds benefiting the hospice house. Reservations are required by April 1. Call 978-552-4927 or visit merrimackvalleyhospice.org.

Wendy Killeen can be reached at wdkilleen@gmail.com.
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