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Granite State Individuals and Groups Receive Prestigious Regional Environmental Awards

Release Date: 05/03/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - May 3, 2006) Two Granite Staters and four New Hampshire groups will be honored on Thursday, May 4 in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents the 2006 Environmental Merit Awards.

Recognizing significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving, the New Hampshire awardees included one for business, industry and professional organizations, two for environmental, community and non-profit, one for efforts by local, state or federal government, one for individual achievement award, and one for the lifetime achievement award.

Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts to preserve the region's environment. This year's competition drew approximately 50 nominations from across New England.

“These awards are among the highest honors EPA can bestow to recognize environmental accomplishments,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “The work of these individuals, organizations and businesses reflect the best attributes of New Englanders, working to find solutions to environmental issues. I offer my gratitude for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment.”

The winners from New Hampshire were among 19 from across New England. Awards were given in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA may present lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

Environmental Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire are:

Lifetime Achievement Environmental Merit Award:
Ronald Poltak

Having spent 30-plus years in environmental policy development and implementation, Ron Poltak has served as the executive director of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) since 1983. Under his leadership, NEIWPCC has dramatically increased activities to protect surface water; treat wastewater; address non-point source pollution, mercury and underground storage tanks; and expand training opportunities. Leading an organization that coordinates efforts among the six New England states and New York to protect and restore water quality is a daunting task. To provide such high quality leadership for nearly a quarter century is extraordinary. As executive director of NEIWPCC, Ron coordinates efforts between and among state administrations and agencies, federal agencies, Congress and other national organizations. He ensures that the organization serves the needs of member states, coordinates programs and direction among members, educates the public about critical water quality issues, and provides training programs serving several thousand environmental professions to help local people do their jobs better and more efficiently. Under Ron’s guidance, NEIWPCC has undertaken a Regional Research Initiative to develop and implement a strategic approach to water resources research in the Northeast. Before joining NEIWPCC, Ron served in several influential and senior environmental positions in his native New Hampshire. These include being the Director of Parks and Recreation in N.H., serving in the Governor’s office for 15 years, and other roles that made him instrumental at developing and directing environmental policy on a local and state level.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:
Christian Martin
Senior Wildlife Biologist, New Hampshire Audubon Society

We can all offer our thanks to Christian Martin for increasing the populations of Bald Eagles, Osprey and Peregrine Falcons in New Hampshire over the past 15 years. Working well beyond his job requirements as a Senior Wildlife Biologist at the NH Audubon Society, Christian has built partnerships that leverage scarce financial resources to enlist and personally train volunteers to become educated advocates for conservation in local communities. For nearly a decade, Christian has coordinated NH’s statewide surveys of Bald Eagles, Osprey and Peregrine Falcons during their nesting seasons. As recreational opportunities and development are negatively impacting the areas utilized by these birds and each of these species still face challenges in NH, , the data provided through Christian’s work and the species profiles that he recently drafted for NH’s Wildlife Action Plan, will guide the state’s future protection efforts. The impact of Christian’s work extends to cities and towns throughout NH and to future generations, by fostering conservation.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
Green Mountain Conservation Group
Blair Folts, Executive Director

Founded in 1997, the Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMGC) is a community-based charitable organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of natural resources in the Ossipee watershed in New Hampshire – including the towns of Effingham, Freedom, Madison, Ossipee, Sandwich and Tamworth. Adopting a style of “non-confrontational” advocacy, GMGC is educating local officials and residents about the Ossipee watershed and the impact that a projected 50 percent growth will have on the area over the next 15 years. The Ossipee watershed is uniquely vulnerable to pollution and contamination because it is home to the largest drift aquifer in New Hampshire – allowing the aquifer to recharge very quickly and also carry pollutants more easily to underground water supplies. Working with the Saco River Corridor Commission, GMGC has established a volunteer-led water quality program and has collected three years of data upon which water quality trends and changes can be measured. GMGC has also protected 450 acres of critical habitat from development and is currently working to protect another 2000 acres of critical land around Trout Pond in Freedom, NH. The GMGC is an excellent example of a grassroots organization that is making a large impact on the protection of critical natural resource areas in New England.

Environmental, Community, Academia & Non-Profit Organization Environmental Merit Award:
New Hampshire Partnership for High Performance Schools
An Initiative of the Jordan Institute

This young and highly effective group was formed to put in place a state-wide comprehensive approach for designing and constructing healthy, high performance, energy efficient, environmentally benign and economically sensible school facilities. The New Hampshire Partnership for High Performance Schools has successfully reached out to more than 70 communities – educating school administrators, facility managers, teachers and parents on ways to make their schools healthier. By forging partnerships with the NH Department of Education, the NH Office of Energy and Planning, NH utilities, the public health community, school design and engineering firms, and environmental organizations, the work of the Partnership has resulted in nearly a dozen districts planning or moving forward with designs for construction or renovation of schools to high performance standards. All of these projects will mean better, healthier indoor environments for students and staff. The Partnership is a successful and replicable example of an effective state-wide initiative to improve the lives of individuals and the environment in which they live, work and play.

Business, Industry and Professional Organizations Environmental Merit Award:
Stonyfield Farm, Inc.

Stonyfield Farm, a local yogurt producer, was, in 1994, the first manufacturer in America to offset 100% of its carbon dioxide emissions from its manufacturing facility’s energy use. Nine years later, Stonyfield Farm continues to steward the environment by purchasing over 12,000 metric tons of renewable energy credit (REC)-based carbon dioxide offsets from new wind facilities and by purchasing solar energy generated RECs to fund the 2005 installation of a 50 kW solar array system on its facilities in Londonderry, NH – the largest in the state of New Hampshire. These REC purchases have helped directly finance a farm methane energy generator for a family-owned dairy farm in Pennsylvania and help support the construction and initial operations and maintenance expenses for three wind turbines in Alaska Native Villages and new wind farms in the Midwest. In the past, Stonyfield Farm has developed a ‘how-to’ booklet on carbon offsets, was the first for-profit organization to register its greenhouse gas emissions with the State of New Hampshire’s voluntary greenhouse gas registry, and purchased as many as 28,000 metric tons of carbon offsets. The company also annually donates 10% of its profits to support other environmental causes including many relating to global climate change. Each of these projects is a visible statement of the company’s commitment to supporting renewable energy projects and helping to bring commercial viability to these technologies.

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