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EPA Awards 3 Environmental Merit Awards to New Hampshire Organizations or Individuals

Release Date: 04/22/2014
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass--April 22, 2014) Today, the U.S. EPA recognized three organizations and individuals in New Hampshire at the 2014 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony. The New Hampshire awardees were among 26 recipients across New England honored for contributing to improving New England’s environment.

Each year EPA New England recognizes individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

“We extend our congratulations and gratitude to this year’s Environmental Merit Award winners, who are helping to ensure a cleaner environment and healthier communities here in New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “In addition to iconic natural beauty and vibrant communities, New England is fortunate to have citizens who care deeply about the environment we share.”

The 2014 Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to Ira Leighton, former deputy regional administrator for EPA New England’s office who died in 2013 after 41 years of service to EPA.

“Ira truly loved the Environmental Merit Award ceremonies and deeply appreciated the environmental stewardship and commitment of citizens across New England,” said Spalding.

The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, 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 Environmental Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire listed by category are:

Lifetime Achievement

Dr. Ihab Farag,
Professor emeritus at University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH

Ihab H. Farag has dedicated himself to instilling energy efficiency, renewable energy and pollution prevention concepts in students from high school to graduate school age. Farag’s accomplishments extend beyond New England to an international arena. Farag started the NH Pollution Prevention Partnership of industry, government, academia, and the State Pollution Prevention Internship Program. He was director of this program from its 1993 founding until 2013 when he retired. It was the first of its kind in New England and has been teaching students and businesses across the region how to protect the environment while saving money through pollution prevention. Established by UNH, the Department of Environmental Services and EPA, the program has placed 135 students at 65 facilities and achieved significant environmental benefits, including more than $3.3 million a year, and millions of gallons of water in savings. The program has spread as far as Thailand, where more than 50 students and seven faculty members have been involved. In 1995, Farag received a commendation from the Coast Guard for starting a program to track hazardous material and for helping them comply with right-to-know laws. Farag became the first person in NH certified to teach CAMEO, or Computer Aided Management of Emergency Operations, and offered more than 30 related training workshops to more than 200 emergency responders. He helped bring in and train emergency responders from around the world, including El Salvador, Thailand, Egypt and Morocco. Farag was also a champion of EPA’s Community Emergency Channel, helping students to assess building energy use in more than 40 New England towns. The presentations and reports of his students continue to be used by interns and communities around the region. Farag has always been a dedicated professor, going above and beyond to help students. He will be missed in the Pollution prevention community as he retires from UNH.

John and Kittie Wilson
Pleasant Lake Protective Association, New London, NH

John and Kittie Wilson are well-known to conservationists in New Hampshire as advocates for the protection of lakes, watersheds, wildlife and especially loons. The Wilsons work tirelessly and bring together others to collaborate in their work. John has been active in the Pleasant Lake Protective Association since the 1970s and now chairs its watershed committee. He was president for three terms, a weed watcher captain for 10 years, and served on the board of the NH Lakes Association. Kittie also has been involved in the association for more than 20 years, serving as board member and secretary, and currently as chair of its wildlife committee. After repeated nest failures of the Pleasant Lakes loon pair, John and Kittie worked with others to build two loon nesting rafts, both of which have hatched chicks. A retired elementary school teacher, Kittie continues as a passionate environmental educator. Perhaps most significantly, the Wilsons recently led the effort to pass a state law banning the use and sale of lead fishing sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less, which is important in protecting loons and 75 other species vulnerable to lead poisoning. As Sen. Kelly Ayotte said, “Outstanding and active citizens like the Wilsons represent one of the strengths of our state.”


Derek Monson
Cobbetts Pond Improvement Association, Windham, NH

As president of the Cobbetts Pond Improvement Association, Derek Monson took the lead in restoring this 302-acre pond in a challenging urban setting. Cobbetts Pond is surrounded by residential and commercial development and sits within 800 feet of an Interstate 93 exit. The watershed’s population has tripled in the last 30 years and several farms have been lost to development. The resulting damage to water quality can be seen in the growing amount of phosphorus and the more abundant algae blooms in the water. Water clarity is down, and the pond is on the 2012 list of NH threatened or impaired waters. Under Monson’s leadership, the Pond Improvement Association received funds to restore the watershed in 2008. A plan was completed in 2010 that calls for a stormwater management approach throughout the watershed. Monson put the plan and its recommended best management practices into place, earning the trust of neighbors and town officials and leading to 16 rain gardens, grass treatment swales and other protections. All of this has reduced phosphorus levels in the pond and educated the community on the impact of stormwater. Monson’s knowledge and hard work lead many to think he is a paid professional, but he accomplished all this as a volunteer. He has successfully led $450,000 worth of projects to improve the pond and overall health of the watershed.

Leighton “In Service to States” Award
The Ira Leighton "In Service to States" Environmental Merit Award was initiated by several environmental groups and EPA New England. The groups involved were the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association and the New England state Environmental Commissioners, along with EPA.

The award went to Ken Kimmell, who worked at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection from 2011 to March 2014 and before that as General Counsel at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs from 2007 through 2011. During that time, Kimmell demonstrated a stellar record protecting the environment, proactively addressing climate change, promoting sustainability and innovation, and advancing clean energy technology at the state, regional, and local levels.

Federal Green Challenge:

In addition to the Environmental Merits, EPA New England recognized eight Federal Green Challenge award winners, including one in New Hampshire. The Federal Green Challenge is a national EPA initiative that challenges federal agencies wto set goals and report on their achievements in the areas of waste, energy, transportation, purchasing, electronics management, and water conservation. The New Hampshire winner, in the recycling category, was:

• Manchester VA Medical Center
Manchester, NH

The VA Manchester Medical Center increased its recycling rate from 80.87 tons in 2012 to 129.4 tons in 2013, a 60 percent improvement in one year. The facility’s single stream recycling program increased tonnage by launching an education program that improved staff compliance and by adding well placed recycling bins. Enhanced purchasing practices and product inventory management also helped to decrease waste and grow the recycling rate. This work was supported by the “Greenhealth Tracker,” a database tool designed for healthcare facilities that records and analyzes waste volumes and costs.