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New Hampshire Citizens and Organizations Recognized by EPA for Environmental Achievements

09/10/2019
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1017

BOSTON – Four individuals and three organizations in New Hampshire were each recognized today by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their work to protect New England's environment. These environmental leaders were among 25 recipients across New England honored by EPA's New England office at the 2019 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony.

Michael W. Durfor of Epsom and Collis G. Adams of Concord were each given awards for lifetime achievement. Other awards were given to Mary Ann Tilton of Concord; Boyd Smith of Newfound; the Town of Wolfboro; the NH Coastal Program in the NH Department of Environmental Services, and the Baboosic Lake Association in Amherst and Merrimack.

"The New England individuals, businesses, and organizations recognized today have shown dedication to the environmental and public health in their communities," said EPA New England Administrator Dennis Deziel. "We are proud to present awards to these stewards of New England's air, land and water."

EPA New England each year recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who are distinguished by their work to protect or improve the region's environment. The merit awards, given since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown ingenuity and commitment. The Environmental Merit Awards, given for work or actions done in the prior year, are awarded 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 presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.

The 2019 Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire were:

Lifetime Achievement awards

Michael W. Durfor
Epsom, NH

Michael Durfor began at the Northeast Resource Recovery Association in December of 2008. During his decade-long leadership, the nation's oldest member-driven recycling and cooperative marketing association increased support for member services, technical support programs, and education for citizens and professionals. Durfor directed the start of the newsletter, updated market pricing, renegotiated marketing contracts, and added single-stream recycling and municipal solid waste at the association.

In 2008, recycling markets were at an all-time low. Realizing that in crisis lies opportunity, Durfor and his staff charted a new course, focusing on market development, expanding materials and education. That strategy was so successful the association expanded to every New England state.

Just as the market recovery was beginning, Durfor and his team faced their next great challenge: consolidation of the industry and the emergence of single stream recycling. Association members needed data to decide whether or not to move to single stream. With support from the association, many members invested in infrastructure so they could market their materials directly. Now, years later, they are benefitting from the work of Durfor and his team.

While at the association, he faced a barrage of difficult issues. Tipping fees; recycling rates; diversion rates; reuse of mixed paper; processed glass aggregate reuse; waste characterization studies; contract negotiations; rural logistics, new technologies; and the Green Fence were among challenges for which Durfor became a regional leader. Along the way, partnerships expanded the scope and reach of the organization's mission, including the acquisition of the Association of Vermont Recyclers in 2009 and oversight of the best-in-nation electronics recycling program.

Over the last decade, Durfor's organization has recycled 1.3 million pounds of material, just one figure to represent his accomplishments. In May, Durfor retired from the National Resource Recovery Association and turned it over to the next generation of recyclers.

Collis G. Adams
Concord, NH

Collis Adams retired in August from his job as wetlands bureau administrator for the NH Department of Environmental Services, a job he held for 19 years. In this position, Adams oversaw dredge, fill and construction in wetlands, surface waters, coastal areas, and protected shorelands. During this time, he also served on the Wetlands Board, the In Lieu Fee Mitigation Site Selection Committee, and the NH Stream Crossing Initiative. Adams was an active member of the DES "Silver Jackets," an incident and recovery response team that works to increase awareness, reduce flood risk, and facilitate partnerships aimed at mitigating and recovering from flooding events. 

In 2017, Adams was given the State, Tribal, and Local Program Development award by the Environmental Law Institute. He served as chair of the Association of State Wetland Managers, helping create several capacity-building projects serving states and tribes in wetland regulation, restoration, monitoring and assessment, and development of wetland water quality standards. At the national level he has served on the Association of Wetland Managers for six years, most recently as chair. He recently served on the Assumable Waters Subcommittee under the auspices of the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology to make recommendations for state assumption of the Clean Water Act 404 program.

In December 2017, Adams was given the DES Continuous Process Improvement Award for working with a DES Lean team to create a triage technical review process for the state Department of Transportation. This past year, under his leadership, the wetlands bureau completed a multi-year initiative to adopt new wetland rules that capture changes in state law, consistency with the federal Corps General permit, best available science, and increased streamlining. His staff have presented regionally on mitigation initiatives, wetland buffers, climate change, best management practices, conservation, stream crossings, and aquatic restoration mapping tools.

Adams' leadership will carry on with a passionate staff dedicated to the mission of protecting and preserving valuable wetlands while allowing reasonable development.

Individual

Mary Ann Tilton
Concord, NH

Mary Ann Tilton, assistant bureau administrator for the Wetlands Bureau of the NH Department of Environmental Services, has worked with EPA's wetlands program for more than 25 years. Tilton led an effort to rewrite coastal and inland state rules, the first rewrite since 1991. This required an extraordinary amount of time, including weekends and evenings. She also has organized and led multiple internal work groups, 40 public meetings, many drafts, and thousands of responses to comments, in addition to her "regular" work supervising staff, putting in place wetland program plans and grant proposals, and overseeing enforcement and compliance activities. Tilton also has streamlined permitting, saving money and providing one-stop shopping for applicants needing multiple state permits for development. She has been a leader in regional wetland issues, including meeting with EPA and other New England states to share ideas and experience. She has given talks on issues, including wetland buffers, assessment, and finding innovative approaches to make government wetland reviews more efficient. Among her accomplishments in balancing resource protection with landowners' rights was the recent "Wetlands Best Management Practice Techniques" manual, focused on minimizing impacts from development and written to help permit applicants understand state expectations when planning projects. Tilton also has led a working group to draft NH's first stream crossing rules, and then worked with groups to produce the first state regulations. The new rules place greater emphasis on stream resources and aquatic organism passage. Tilton's career exemplifies inspirational leadership focused on protecting resources while upholding the public trust.

Boyd Smith
Newfound, NH

The executive director of the Newfound Lake Region Association had a vision for development of a watershed-based plan for the fifth largest lake in New Hampshire that might have sounded far-fetched. When Boyd Smith is that director, chances of success are good. Smith spearheaded development of a watershed-based plan for Newfound Lake and has secured several rounds of funding since 2009. He continues to be the champion of protection efforts for the 96-square-mile watershed. Smith realized focusing too much on local planning boards might not be the best way to get progressive land-use regulations and policy for the watershed. Rather, he looked to informed voters and taxpayers to advocate for sustainable watershed policy. He collaborated with state and regional agencies to increase land conservation and secured $750,000, completed 11 land conservation projects in nine years, and facilitated $3.9 million in donations for conservation easements. Smith is the hub of efforts that have increased conserved watershed acres from 12 percent to 30 percent in a decade. Smith's work with the lake association led to a paradigm shift among residents in the nine watershed communities by consistently communicating why stormwater is a problem and what can be done about it. Smith spent countless hours "in the trenches" to inspire neighbors to take action to protect the lake they love. This permanent lake protection is a victory for a vital ecosystem and economic driver in the region. Newfound Lake will reap the benefits of Boyd's hard work for generations to come.

Government

Town of Wolfeboro
Wolfeboro, NH

Wolfeboro, a picturesque community, maintains access to multiple waterbodies in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. The town in recent years has prioritized projects to maintain and protect its water resources. In 2017, with David Ford as director of Public Works, the town set an example by putting in place one of the first asset management plans in New Hampshire. Asset management allows water managers to make well-informed decisions on how to best operate and maintain their systems, while maintaining infrastructure at the lowest cost possible. It allows municipal staff to work efficiently while maintaining high quality customer service. Water quality is severely diminished without an investment in infrastructure and the town of Wolfeboro is responsible for maintaining both town and state-owned stormwater facilities. There are 918 structures in the town with 20 to 100 added each year. An inventory of these assets is used to set priorities based on condition, analysis of life cycle and maintenance costs. Ford embraced this project with vigor and passion. He communicated the importance of the program to town officials and the public. As a result, the Town of Wolfeboro now has an effective tool to help prioritize the town's infrastructure replacement, as well as the ability to better maintain high water quality and efficiently use staff time. This is an example of a town using resources wisely to secure its infrastructure and improve water quality.

NH Coastal Program
NH Department of Environmental Services

The NH Coastal Program provides funding and technical assistance to 17 communities on the coast to help them protect clean water, restore coastal habitats, and be resilient to flooding. The program's staff - Steve Couture, program administrator; Kirsten Howard, coastal resilience coordinator, and Nathalie Morison, coastal resilience specialist - have been key to New Hampshire being recognized as a national leader in climate adaptation planning. They secured and administrated hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants for coastal resilience efforts and participated in the recent update to the state's 2018 hazard mitigation plan, ensuring climate change and coastal flooding were included. The staff are members of the Coastal Adaptation Workgroup, which provides technical assistance and education to municipalities on climate adaptation activities. Two years ago, the Coastal Program took the lead on a "Climate Risk in the Seacoast" project, which assessed the impacts of climate change on 10 municipalities surrounding the Great Bay Estuary. Last year, the program led an effort to get the state and towns to put into place a report to the NH Coastal Risk and Hazardous Commission. This led Dover to adopt a Climate Adaptation Master Plan Chapter and Durham to amend its flood plain regulations. It also led to a climate change open house in Exeter and outreach to vulnerable businesses in Newington. Municipalities often get the credit for sustainability efforts, but without the New Hampshire Coastal Program staff, many coastal communities would not be where they are today.

Environmental, Community, Academia, Nonprofit

Baboosic Lake Association
Amherst and Merrimack, NH

Baboosic Lake Association's mission is to protect and restore Baboosic Lake in Amherst and Merrimack, NH. This small non-profit without paid staff has achieved huge improvements in the watershed. Baboosic Lake, located near heavy development, saw its water quality suffer due to poor land use decisions. To address water quality issues, the association developed a restoration plan, working with the state Department of Environmental Services. The association built a network of federal, state and local partners, as well as a group of skilled residents. As a result of the plan, the town of Amherst connected homes with 30 of the worst individual septic systems to a community septic system. The association also has stabilized slopes to reduce stormwater runoff and controlled and treated this runoff. Recently, the association used an EPA grant to control road erosion. Projects so far prevent about 58 pounds of phosphorus from entering the lake annually, close to the goal of 70 pounds. Water quality sampling showed decreasing trends in chlorophyll-a and total phosphorus. The 222-acre lake is no longer listed as impaired for recreation or aquatic life. Swimming advisories have decreased, with none in recent years. The Baboosic Lake Association not only motivates watershed protection, it also engages partners involved in restoration. It trains volunteer scuba divers for invasive aquatic plant control, supports a weed watcher program, performs water quality monitoring in coordination with the University of New Hampshire, and provides education.

In addition to these winners, Robert Klee, commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection from January 2014 to December 2018, was given the Ira Leighton "In Service to States" annual award for environmental achievement that has had an outsized impact in the state, the region, and nationally.

This year's Environmental Awards Ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Douglas M. Costle, who served as administrator for EPA from 1977 to 1981 and was among the driving forces in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA also announced that The Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition in Springfield would be honored for its role in children's health. Established in 2006, the coalition works to improve the lives of families, individuals, and communities affected by asthma in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts.

More information on EPA's Environmental Merit Awards, including photographs from the award ceremony: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-merit-awards-new-england