Valerie Burns Receives Liff Spirit Award

Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) and its affiliate, The Trustees of Reservations are pleased to announce that Valerie Burns has been chosen as the 2011 recipient of The Emerald Necklace Conservancy’s Liff Spirit Award. The award honors the vision, wisdom, humanity and joy that Justine Mee Liff brought to her work as Boston Commissioner of Parks and Recreation from 1996 until 2002. It is presented annually to an individual or individuals whose leadership, commitment to cities, passion for public places and ability to inspire others, best reflects Justine’s spirit and legacy. Burns received the award at the 8th Annual Party in the Park in the Back Bay Fens on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

As president of Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), Burns demonstrates a strong commitment to conserving and expanding urban green spaces and encouraging community members to advocate and work for all the city’s parklands. “It is an honor to receive this award,” says Valerie. “As Justine did in her work, it is important to celebrate the beauty, joy and community that Boston’s parks and green spaces bring to our city.”

BNAN’s mission is to improve, preserve and expand special kinds of urban open space such as community gardens, urban wilds, and greenways, always guided by local residents. The organization involves over 20,000 individuals and families each year in the stewardship of these green spaces. In 1995, BNAN introduced an initiative under Burns’ direction called, Greenways to Boston Harbor, which created the Neponset River Greenway and the East Boston Greenway that has leveraged to date $43 million in public funding for new parklands in the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park and East Boston.. These two greenways, moving towards completion, now provide 9 miles of walking and biking trails and almost 100 acres of parks as the expansion of public parks in parts of the city underserved by open space. BNAN is also the leading organization for community gardens in Boston, providing services to all 150 community gardens and owns and protects 43 gardens.

Boston Natural Areas Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together local residents, partner organizations, public officials and foundations to preserve, expand and enhance urban open space, including community gardens, greenways and urban wilds. For more information about the organization, becoming a member or the calendar of events, visit call 617-542-7696.