Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler will receive an award recognizing his efforts to protect the city's environment and promote nature during the Columbus chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution's annual conference on Saturday, March 28, at the Columbus Airport Marriott hotel.

Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler will receive an award recognizing his efforts to protect the city's environment and promote nature during the Columbus chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution's annual conference on Saturday, March 28, at the Columbus Airport Marriott hotel.

The DAR is a national organization devoted to promoting democracy and preserving the country's assets, including the environment, said Diane Gosser, a member of the Columbus chapter who nominated Kessler for the DAR's Conservation Award.

"I nominated Ben because he did get Bexley verified as an arboretum" by the national Morton Register of Arboreta, said Gosser, who serves on the mayor's arboretum committee.

"We are the only residential arboretum in the world, which makes us a state, national and international treasure," she said. "I think many people take trees for granted -- they're nice for shade in the summer, they get cursed when they drop leaves in the fall, but people don't usually think about trees."

The DAR's Conservation Award has stringent nomination criteria, and Gosser said she had to submit endorsements from Bexley City Council, the Bexley Public Library and individual residents to verify Kessler's conservation efforts.

"Just being nominated is not a surefire in," Gosser said. "It had to go to state (DAR) approval and national approval."

Kessler said conservation is a priority for him, both personally and professionally.

"It's honoring and humbling" to receive the award, Kessler said. "I am passionate about urban conservation, and Bexley's role in facilitating urban conservation, but the progress we have made is very much the result of a community effort."

Kessler said he began working on citywide conservation efforts as far back as 2008, when he was a City Council member and began pushing for the preservation of Alum Creek and surrounding areas.

Other conservation initiatives he has promoted, along with other public officials and the community, include the development and expansion of Alum Creek Park and the installation of public recycling receptacles along East Main Street last summer.

When the city began the process of relocating to its new offices in the Bexley Square Shopping Center last year, Kessler pushed for the recycling of materials from the previous City Hall building at 2242 E. Main St. For example, marble from the old building adorns the back wall in the new council chambers.

"We were very purposeful in our move from the City Hall site to find existing properties and engage in adaptive re-use and redevelopment of property as opposed to pursuing new build projects," Kessler said.

Gosser said one of the most impressive environmental programs that Kessler helped to develop is the city's kayak rental program.

"You can rent a kayak and go down Alum Creek and look at the trees," said Gosser, who also helps tend the city's community garden in southwest Bexley. "Bexley is unique in not only that we have a lot of trees, which is good for our health, but we treasure them."