New London’s John and Kittie Wilson Receive US EPA Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement
Award Recognizes Couple’s Longtime Efforts to Protect Lakes and Loons
(New London, NH) – On Tuesday (4/22) afternoon John and Kittie Wilson of New London, NH received the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement. The award was presented in a ceremony at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall.
The Wilsons were nominated for the award by the Loon Preservation Committee (“LPC”), NH Lakes Association (“NH Lakes”), and Pleasant Lake Protective Association (“PLPA”) for their extensive volunteer work on behalf of those organizations over several decades.
From Left to Right: Curt Spalding, EPA Region 1 Administrator; Kittie Wilson; John Wilson; Deb Szaro, EPA Region 1 Deputy Administrator. EPA PHOTO (also available for download from http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/images/2014/21-hires.jpg[/caption]
John has been active in the Pleasant Lake Protective Association (PLPA) since the 1970’s. He has served as PLPA’s President for three terms and as a Weed Watcher Captain for the past 10 years. Kittie has been involved with the PLPA for more than 20 years, serving as a board member and Secretary for most of that time. She currently chairs PLPA’s Wildlife Committee. John has also served on the board of the NH Lakes Association (NH Lakes), where he was the Chair of its Public Policy and Advocacy Committee from 2011-2012.
In recent years, the Wilsons have been leading advocates for state legislation that bans the use and sale of lead fishing sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less—the largest known cause of New Hampshire adult loon mortality. The Wilsons were a crucial catalyst for the passage of the legislation (SB 89 in 2013) by bringing together LPC, NH Lakes and the PLPA as partners. The Wilsons also attended numerous legislative hearings, organized PLPA members, and lobbied legislators personally in support of the bill. Over the past decade, Kittie and John have volunteered with LPC, fostering its collaboration with PLPA’s Wildlife Committee. After repeated nest failures of Pleasant Lake’s loon pair, John and Kittie worked with LPC to build two loon nesting rafts for the lake—both of which have hatched chicks.
Additionally, in response to loon deaths caused by ingested lead (Pb) fishing tackle, the two have engaged in a grassroots public education campaign, creating and distributing flyers door-to-door around the lake and writing in local papers. They have also given out non-lead fishing tackle, collected lead tackle and organized lead-free fishing demonstrations.
Kittie, a retired schoolteacher, continues to educate and advocate for conservation through photojournalism in her own published works and the PLPA newsletter she produces, titled “All things Pleasant on the Lake.”
John and Kittie have both been previously recognized with LPC’s prestigious “Spirit of the Loon Award” for their work.
The Wilsons EPA award nomination received endorsements from several state and federal elected officials, including both of New Hampshire’s United States Senators.
United State Senator Jeanne Shaheen said:
“John and Kittie have shown incredible dedication to protecting our lakes, watershed and wild life in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and the US EPA Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement is a fitting recognition of their hard work,” Shaheen said. “The Wilsons’ decades long commitment has helped preserve the water quality, natural beauty and recreational opportunities of the Lakes Region for future generations.”
United States Senator Kelly Ayotte said:
“The Wilsons have a proven track record of advancing conservation efforts in a state that prides itself on responsible stewardship of our natural resources. Having both been tireless volunteers with the Pleasant Lake Protective Association and the New Hampshire Lakes Association, the Wilsons have a passion for preserving our pristine waterways and the habitat that calls those waterways home, and this award serves as a fitting tribute to their tremendous advocacy efforts.”
More information about EPA’s Environmental Merit Awards may be found at: http://www.epa.gov/region1/ra/ema/index.html
The Loon Preservation Committee (“LPC”) was created in 1975 in response to concerns about a dramatically declining loon population and the effects of human activities on loons. For over 35 years, the Loon Preservation Committee has undertaken state-wide monitoring, research, management and outreach to preserve loons and their habitats. LPC staff is supported in these efforts by a large grassroots network of over 1,500 members and volunteers.
The New Hampshire Lakes Association (“NH LAKES”) is a statewide, member-supported, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting New Hampshire lakes and their watersheds through education and advocacy. NH LAKES has approximately 1,400 individual/family members and business members, and 100 lake/pond and watershed association members.