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EPA Administrator recognizes Vallecito Lake resident with President's Volunteer Service Award

Release Date: 06/19/2008
Contact Information: Richard Mylott, 303 312-6654; Pam Grant, 202 564-5777

Hamilton Wright cited for water quality protection efforts in Vallecito Lake, Pine River watershed

Denver -- EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson presented Vallecito Lake resident Hamilton Wright with the President’s Volunteer Service Award at a ceremony in Denver today. Mr. Wright, a 78-year-old retired businessman, devotes many hours volunteering to protect water quality in Vallecito Lake and the Pine River watershed near Durango, Colo.

“Today we honor Hamilton Wright for answering President Bush's call to serve a cause greater than himself,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Dedicated volunteers like Mr. Wright are inspiring others to join them in delivering America brighter, healthier future."

Wright's efforts have included lobbying to secure equipment to sample and monitor conditions in Vallecito Lake and leading the response to specific threats to watershed health. In 2002, he worked tirelessly following the Missionary Ridge wildfire, an event that significantly impacted the Pine River watershed and threatened the lake with increased runoff, sediment loads and flooding concerns. Wright coordinated a volunteer effort to assess the flood potential of tributaries in the burned area. In addition, the water-quality data that Wright collected were invaluable for analysis and interpretation of the effects of the fire on lake water quality.

Wright continues to work on behalf of water quality at Vallecito Lake and the Pine River watershed, directing about 18 volunteers who share his passion for protecting the environment. In 2006, following a mercury fish consumption advisory issued by the State of Colorado, Wright led efforts to study and characterize mercury concentrations in water, sediments and organisms in the watershed.

"Every watershed should be so lucky as to have someone like Hamilton Wright looking after it," said Rich Mylott, of EPA's regional office in Denver. "For more than a decade, Ham has led, and inspired, a volunteer network that has developed high-quality scientific information on conditions in Vallecito Lake and the Pine River watershed. That information has been a critical foundation for resource protection efforts in the area."

During his travels across the country, Administrator Johnson meets with individuals like Hamilton Wright who are answering the call to volunteer service, environmental education and pollution prevention. Mr. Wright was nominated by David Sanford, director of the San Juan Resource Conservation and Development Council, Win Wright of the Pine River Watershed Group, and Doug Ramsey coordinator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture- Natural Resource Conservation Service.

In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on all Americans to make a difference in their communities through volunteer service. He created USA Freedom Corps, an Office of the White House, to strengthen and expand volunteer service. Americans are responding to the President’s Call to Service. Go to or call 1-877-USA-CORPS to find an existing volunteer service opportunity in your area or to find more information about service programs, including national service programs such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Citizen Corps. USA Freedom Corps is also highlighting youth volunteer service. Visit for games and ideas to see how America's youth are making a difference.

The President's Volunteer Service Award was created at the President’s direction by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The Award is available to youth ages 14 and under who have completed 50 or more hours of volunteer service; to individuals 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and to families or groups who have completed 200 or more hours. For more information about the Award, please visit

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