The Geosynthetic Materials Association presented the first Friend of GMA Award to U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) during the GMA Capitol Hill Education Forum Oct. 23, 2007, in Washington, D.C.
After Shuler was introduced by Richard Goodrum of North Carolina-based Colbond Inc., the award was presented to Shuler by John Henderson, GMA Executive Council Chairman.
Said Henderson: “The Geosynthetic Materials Association is honored to present Congressman Heath Shuler with the first Friend of GMA Award for saving taxpayer dollars, protecting the environment, and investing in our nation’s infrastructure with the use of geosynthetic materials. From the Geosynthetic Materials Association, we appreciate your support very much.”
Shuler has extensive experience with geosynthetics through his previous work as a land developer in North Carolina. Although he sold the land development business to pursue politics in 2003, his hands-on experience provided him with in-depth knowledge about the benefits of using geosynthetic materials.
During the award ceremony, Shuler said, “We’ve utilized it in erosion and sediment control, matting for our roads, and for pond liners; we’ve done almost everything from stabilization of our banks to erosion control of our ditches.”
Shuler said that many times he worked in areas that didn’t yet have development ordinances, and he recommended to city councils that they require use of geosynthetics. “I told them, ‘We’re using it, you’re not even requiring us to use it; you should make [geosynthetics] a part of your development ordinance in your community because it’s going to save the taxpayers money in the long run when you stabilize those roadways.’ ”
Shuler said without using geosynthetics in roads, the long-term usability of the road is diminished. “It’s the liability that I don’t want 10, 15, or 20 years or even sometimes two years down the road, because you’re having to replace pavement and you’ve got a hole in your road. We’ve got to improve that on the federal level, and the way to do that is to have your [geosynthetics] products as a part of this reauthorization highway bill. I want to see if I can help champion those pieces of legislation because I know firsthand exactly how it works.”
The Education Forum was the first of its kind for GMA, a trade association with a mission to increase the acceptance and promote the correct use of geosynthetics.