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EPA Recognizes Four From Vermont With Environmental Merit Awards

Release Date: 04/22/04
Contact Information: Contact: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1014

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2004; Release # 04-04-29

BOSTON – At an Earth Day ceremony in Boston’s Faneuil Hall, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office today recognized four individuals and organizations from Vermont with Environmental Merit Awards. The merit 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.

“These individuals, organizations and businesses deserve our thanks for their extraordinary contributions in protecting the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “They have shown us that anyone can make a big difference, whether at work, at home, or in their neighborhood.”

The winners from Vermont were among 34 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, as well as lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

Pictures of winners receiving their awards will be available from EPA. Call Carol Krasauskis at 617-918-1108.

Environmental Merit Award Winners from Vermont are:
Karen Knaebel, Mercury Education and Reduction Coordinator, Vermont
Karen Knaebel has worked at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation since 1999 as the state’s mercury coordinator and as staff support to the Vermont Advisory Committee on Mercury Pollution. In addition to supporting the work of the committee, which has met 50 times since its inception, she has coordinated and assisted in numerous mercury education and reduction projects. Examples include a highly successful statewide mercury thermometer exchange, implementation of Vermont’s mercury product labeling law and a major education campaign on the risks of fish consumption for mothers and children, which included thousands of posters for physicians, fishing spots and locations which sell fishing licenses. Knaebel’s ongoing efforts have created an extremely effective risk communication program on a limited budget, bringing better health to Vermont’s residents.

Leicester, Vermont and Lake Dunmore/Fern Lake Association, Eurasian Milfoil Control
The Town of Leicester, VT and the Lake Dunmore/Fern Lake Association demonstrated that it is possible to control Eurasian Milfoil in an environmentally friendly way, without herbicides or mechanical damage to lake bottoms. Eurasian Milfoil is a non-native aquatic plant that invades New England lakes and ponds, forming dense beds that degrade fish habitat and overall lake ecology. Traditional methods of control include herbicides, biological controls and mechanical harvesters and barriers, all of which have adverse effects. The Leicester and LDFLA program utilizes a small team of well-trained divers to hand-pull milfoil plants. The success of this program on both a small and large lake demonstrates the effectiveness of this program and its value as a model for the rest of the region. To that end, the project has produced extensive documentation and hopes to share it with other lake organizations in New England.

Drinking Water Source Protection Coordinators
Elizabeth Hunt and Rodney Pingree, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Over the last four years, the six New England state drinking water source protection coordinators have made tremendous contributions to the long-term safety and viability of drinking water for New England residents. Since 1999, the various state programs, working with local, state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations, have completed over 2,500 source water assessments, identifying potential threats to drinking water from hundreds of municipal and private suppliers in New England. But they have also gone far beyond information gathering by launching creative new programs to ensure that drinking water threats do not materialize. Efforts include partnering with non-profit agencies and drinking water suppliers to protect source waters, drafting model land conservation easements with the New Hampshire Society for the Protection of Forests, starting land conservation programs to purchase critical land near drinking water sources and working with Maine’s George Mitchell Center to create a manual on source water protection for suppliers.

Related information:
Environmental Merit