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EPA Celebrates Earth Day by Recognizing Eight from Maine With Environmental Merit Awards

Release Date: 04/22/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – In honor of Earth Day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office today recognized eight individuals and organizations from Maine with Environmental Merit Awards, including a lifetime achievement award for three Maine employees. The awards, given out since 1970, 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 nearly 100 nominations from across New England.

"The individuals and groups we are honoring today are New England's real environmental heroes," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "Often with little fanfare, they have invested huge amounts of their time to make New England's environment cleaner and safer for future generations. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude."

The winners from Maine were among 40 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, for the first time, special lifetime achievement awards were presented this year.

Winners from Maine were:

Lifetime Achievement Awards:

David Courtemanch, Susan Davies and Leon Tsomides, Maine Department of Environmental Protection
David Courtemanch, Susan Davies and Leon Tsomides of the Maine DEP have devoted their careers to developing a biological monitoring program. The program assesses the health of rivers and streams by evaluating the composition of resident biological communities, rather than directly measuring the chemical or physical qualities of the water, such as dissolved oxygen levels or concentrations of toxic contaminants. Evaluating benthic organisms integrates the full range of environmental influences and act as continuous monitors of environmental quality. Courtemanch, Davies and Tsomides worked with EPA biologists and many other biologists across the country to come up with specific numeric criteria for measuring the biology of rivers and streams. In place since 1983, this biological assessment work now includes more than 600 monitoring stations on 150 rivers and streams across Maine. Maine has a national reputation as a leader among states in the scientific field of biological monitoring and criteria development, bringing credit to the New England region as well as Maine. The Maine biomonitoring program serves as a shining example to other state environmental programs.

Individual Awards

Robert Miville, Chelsea, Maine
Robert Miville, owner of Aable Auto Parts, helped the Maine Department of Environmental Protection embark on the state's first-in-the-nation manufacturer take-back program of automobile mercury switches. The program, mandated this year under state law, helped prevent the release of an estimated 1,500 pounds of mercury in Maine. Miville was one of the industry leaders from the Maine Auto Recyclers Association who helped get the legislation approved. He also volunteered last year to be the spokesperson for a video explaining why the removal of the switches was important and how to do it. The video has received national acclaim and has been used for training and information sessions across the state.


Merryspring Nature Park, Camden/Rockport, Maine
Merryspring Nature Park is a 66-acre nature and horticultural park on coastal Maine. Since acquiring the land in 1973, the park has grown and developed to include a system of hiking and nature trails, a managed and labeled arboretum and a central garden area park. In 1996, Merryspring added a building with an office, meeting space, a library and a classroom. It hosts an adult education program, a summer ecology camp and an environmental education program for elementary students. Merryspring created the latter program last year, which is the focus of today's award, so children and teachers could take advantage of all of the park and building spaces for nature education. The idea was to give schools access to a free enriched science and ecology curriculum. During its first year, the program provided more than 2,500 on-site student hours, in addition to 32 adult ed classes, 30 lectures and a five-day ecology camp. All of the classes emphasize what Maine native species and their ecosystems require to thrive.

Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, Jefferson, Maine
The Damariscotta Watershed Association has established a water quality monitoring program in the three basins that make up the seven-square-mile lake. The association has also been working with state and local agencies since 1995 to solve specific erosion and sedimentation problems. In addition to creating a website to inform the public about the lake, an education committee provides scholarships for children as well as a quarterly newsletter with detailed information on needs, duties and available efforts from volunteers, of which there are about 500. The association has also acquired land around the lake to help act as a protective buffer. By working with the local road commissioner, the association minimizes the impact of road work on Lake Damariscotta.

Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute, Nobleboro, Maine
The Maine Lakes Conservancy Institute (MLCI), a nonprofit environmental education organization, was founded in 1999 to address the lack of attention being paid to the protection and importance of Maine's 5,800 lakes. Shippen Bright, who had served on former Governor McKernan's Great Pond Task Force, started the institute to improve public awareness of the state's lake resources, with particular attention being focused on Maine's young people. MCLI's signature program is its floating classroom, a 30-foot pontoon boat where staff members conduct hands-on ecology investigations. MCLI has nine partner middle schools representing the cultural and geographic diversity of Maine – from Eagle Lake at the northern tip of Maine, to Indian Township on the Passamaquoddy Reservation in eastern Maine to the Bonny Eagle Middle School southwest of Portland. Another priority is to engage the public in understanding the importance of lakes to the state economy. A 1997 report from the University of Maine George J. Mitchell Center, for example, estimated that the state's lakes contribute $6 billion to the economy, more than Bath Iron Works, the state's largest employer.

Business and Industry

Target Corp./Target Stores, Minneapolis, MN
The Target Corp. has demonstrated how a large retail operation can make significant strides in environmental improvements and reducing waste. Recycling goals are set for each store based on sales amounts. Last year, company stores recycled over 270,000 tons of materials and additionally reduced waste through community salvage programs. In New England alone, Target's 27 stores last year recycled 6,766 tons of paper and cardboard. The company also recycles outdated computers, aluminum, cadmium, nickel, lead acid, aluminum and shrink-wrap (as well as glass and bottle recycling on a local level). Target also works with vendors to reduce product packaging. Nearly 100 percent of the clothing Target sells arrives without excess packaging and 95 percent of all shoes arrive without stuffing. Target also requests that overseas vendors ship goods in traditional corrugated cardboard, without rice paper, ensuring that boxes can be recycled. Target's Environmental Team is also active in national recycling and cleanup programs. Last year, more than 6,300 volunteers participated in the Keep America Beautiful Operation Clean Up America. The results of those efforts: 83 playgrounds cleaned and 26,000 flowers planted.