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New Hampshire Residents Receive Prestigious Regional EPA Environmental Award in Ceremony Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Release Date: 04/22/2010
Contact Information: EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – April 22, 2010) – Three individuals and two groups in New Hampshire will be honored on Earth Day in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents the 2010 Environmental Merit Awards. During a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the organization recognized significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving by 40 people and groups across New England.

The merit awards allow EPA to recognize individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

“Today, on this milestone anniversary of Earth Day, I’d like to acknowledge and honor people, communities and businesses that have made significant strides in protecting New England’s health,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England. Spalding noted, during ceremonies to honor the winners, that President Obama issued an Earth Day challenge to Americans to take action - in homes, in the community and in schools or businesses, to improve the environment.

Quoting Obama, he said, “’It can be as simple as riding the bus or the subway to work, making your home more energy efficient, or organizing your neighbors to clean up a nearby park.’”

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 are:

Lifetime Achievement Merit Award:

James Mersereau


Jim Mersereau, who died in December, led energy efficiency, renewable energy and pollution prevention initiatives as general mountain manager for Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway. Mersereau’s commitment to the environment led to a transformation of the ski industry in the Northeast. According to Ben Wilcox, Cranmore Mountain Resort’s current general manger, “Jim’s … leadership was an inspiration to the entire Cranmore team, along with the entire NH ski industry.” Mersereau began working at Cranmore in 1971 and for many years was its general manager. Among his many successes, he made Cranmore the first ski area in the east to use biodiesel in grooming equipment; he initiated the use of biodegradable hydrolic fluids to reduce the environmental impact from leaks; he created “Biodiesel Days” to educate customers; he made Cranmore the only mountain to publicly support the Regional Greenhouse Gas initiative, and he changed to snowmaking equipment that uses 60 percent less water.

Individual Environmental Merit Award:

Joe Ayotte

US Geological Survey NH/VT Water Science Center

Joe Ayotte and his colleagues at the US Geological Survey NH/VT Water Science Center created tools to help regulators better predict arsenic occurrence and better understand the correlation between public health and arsenic, one of the most common contaminants found in New England groundwater. Research by Ayotte and his colleagues also allows regulators to understand the correlations between geology and arsenic. Their work has been cited by scientific papers at least 87 times. Other arsenic investigations in New England have used Ayotte’s work as a foundation for their own. And beyond the scientific community, Ayotte and the center have made sure that their efforts are used in real life applications. EPA New England has an ongoing project with Joe and the center looking at ways to reduce arsenic flowing into drinking water wells.

Richard Ober

NH Charitable Foundation in Concord

Dick Ober, vice president of civic leadership and communications at the NH Charitable Foundation, is a lifelong conservationist whose work on climate and energy issues in 2009 was strengthened by his previous experiences. Before joining the foundation in 2008, he directed the Monadnock Conservancy and before that worked for 16 years for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Last year Ober focused on developing a new energy economy for New Hampshire. As chair of the NH Public Utilities Commission’s Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board, he helps coordinate programs and policies to reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuels and increase its clean energy economy. He also was instrumental in launching the NH Energy and Climate Collaborative, which has members from 18 business, government agencies and nonprofit institutions. This group makes sure the NH Climate Action Plan is put in place, not shelved. Ober and two colleagues developed the vision for the University of New Hampshire-based Green Launching Pad. The initiative, a partnership between UNH and the state, is focused on bringing new green technologies to the marketplace, spurring new clean technology companies and supporting creation of green jobs.

Environmental, Community, Academia, & Non-profit Organizations Environmental Merit Award:

Big Island Pond Corporation


Board members of the Big Island Pond Corporation, which owns water rights to Big Island Pond, in 2009 chose not to use the chemical herbicide 2.4D in treating waters affected by milfoil. Variable milfoil, an exotic weed species that spreads quickly in boat propellers, has threatened the rich diversity of plants and animals found in this 528-acre lake in Atkinson, Hampstead and Derry. Residents organized to reduce the infestation and instead of chemicals used a method known as diver-assisted suction harvesting and hand-pulling. Residents redesigned a pontoon boat into a 24-foot suction harvester and a smaller harvester was built for shallow areas.A local scuba diver enlisted a crew of divers and organized a certification program. They scheduled up to 12 dives a week to reduce the density of milfoil. After a year of education and harvesting, dense growth areas were significantly reduced. Two weed watchers have been trained to watch each of the 16 coves on the lake. And the newly formed Friends of Big Island Pond is working with the corporation to make sure natural resources of the pond are preserved.

New England Carbon Challenge

Julia Dundorf and Denise Blaha

Julia Dundorf of Clean Air Cool Planet and Denise Blaha of the University of New Hampshire in 2007 developed the New Hampshire Carbon Challenge to address climate change as well as poor air quality in New England. This challenge has been so successful that communities across New England have asked to be involved, resulting in the recent name change to the New England Carbon Challenge. To date, the challenge has reduced CO2 emissions by 17.5 million pounds and has saved residents $1.8 million. Its goal is to help residents identify actions they can take to reduce energy consumption, energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. With its emphasis on metrics, the web-based Carbon Calculator can easily track progress in each community that uses it. New Hampshire local energy committees have used the Carbon Challenge to engage residents in the idea of energy efficiency. The New England Carbon Challenge offers residents a choice of concrete, doable actions and shows people the consequences of their actions.

More Information:
Environmental Merit Awards (

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