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EPA Presents Environmental Merit Awards to 5 in Maine

Release Date: 04/18/2001
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON – Five individuals and organizations from Maine were honored today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their contributions to the environment.

The Maine winners were among 33 recipients from around New England that received Environmental Merit Awards at an Earth Day ceremony at Faneuil Hall. The 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.

"The individuals and groups we are honoring today are New England's real environmental heroes," said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator for EPA New England. "Often with little fanfare, they have invested huge amounts of their time to make New England's environmental cleaner and safer for future generations. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude."

U.S. Rep. John Joseph Moakley of Massachusetts received a "special recognition award" for his strong commitment to environmental protection, both nationally and in New England. Nationally, Moakley has consistently had high scores for legislative votes on the environment. His efforts also helped ensure federal funding for the cleanup of Boston Harbor.

The winners from Maine were:

Passamaquoddy Tribe & State of Maine
The Passamaquoddy Indian Tribe, the Maine State Historic Preservation Commission and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection showed great cooperation in working together with EPA to protect the environment while also protecting cultural resources. When the Superfund cleanup in Meddybemps, Maine uncovered a trove of American Indian artifacts in 1999, the parties worked together, often under very tight time frames, to ensure that the cleanup could move forward, while still preserving 8,000 years of Passamaquoddy tribal history. The five-acre parcel Superfund site sits on the shores of what was once the hub of a popular canoe travel route connecting coastal areas to the Saint Croix River and other interior regions. An agreement signed last July included provisions for archaeological excavations, scientific interpretation, public viewing and cultural interpretation of the artifacts – all while the cleanup was ongoing. The cooperation shown by all parties is a model for inter-governmental relations, and for balancing environmental and cultural needs.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Sprawling development threatens the natural character and ecological integrity of Maine's coast. During the 1990s, Maine was the only eastern state to experience a net immigration in all of its coastal counties. From 1990 to 1996 alone, coastal towns in southern Maine saw a 700 percent increase in building permits. The Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a recognized leader among statewide land trusts, has been hugely successful preserving the state's coast amid this unprecedented growth. In just the past year, the trust has worked with partners to conserve: a 940-acre preserve on Frenchboro Long Island (including 5.5 miles of shoreline trails); 20,268 acres of Nicatous and West lakes (including 76 undeveloped islands), the largest conservation easement in Maine's history; a pristine salt marsh on Mount Desert Island; and three entire eagle-nesting islands, one of them a 430-acre landmark on Blue Hill Bay that had been threatened with subdivision. Since its formation in 1970, the trust has helped conserve 108,000 acres and 325 entire islands and it currently manages some 20 coastal preserves.

Karin R. Tilberg of Augusta
Twenty-two percent of the state of Maine, a third of the entire North Woods, has changed hands in the last three years. As Maine Director of the Northern Forest Alliance, Karin Tilberg has brought together a wide range of groups to campaign successfully for conservation projects. Among those victories were the 656,000-acre West Branch Project and the 30,000-acre Tumbledown Mountain Project, both public-private initiatives that will protect some of Maine's most ecologically important landscapes. Karin is successful because she works effectively with environmental organizations, government officials, business people and scientists to promote conservation. The North Forest Alliance is made up of 40 groups committed to protecting the 26-million acre Northern Forest region of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Outside of her alliance work, Karin helped form a diverse group, including snowmobilers, local officials, hunting/fishing guides and conservationists, that worked together to protect land in the Down East Lakes region. Karin is a true asset to land conservation in Maine.

Ed Friedman of Bowdoinham
Ed Friedman is the chairman of Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, which works to protect the Merrymeeting Bay watershed, a basin draining a third of Maine's waterways. Largely under Ed's guidance, the Friends has played a vital role in protecting Maine's environment. Over the past year, Ed was responsible for putting a statewide spotlight on a PCB hotspot in the Kennebec River, where PCB levels in fish were 100 times the state health advisory limit. He also worked tirelessly to bring media attention to the problem which helped convince Maine DEP to focus more attention on the contamination. And he convinced DEP to use mussels to monitor PCBs and dioxin, creating a more effective monitoring program. Besides working with the Friends, Ed is a volunteer for the Maine Toxics Action Coalition, an alliance of 18 public health and environmental groups. In this regard, he headed up the coalition's fish advisory posting project, making sure that more than 400 miles of rivers were posted to protect women and children from consuming fish contaminated with mercury and dioxin.

Ken Dow of Corinna
Ken Dow is the creator and manager of cattailpress.com, a website that provides citizens with a vital link to data, information and photographs about the cleanup of the Corinna, Maine Superfund site. This website also provides citizens with a forum for public discussion, which further raises public awareness. What Ken began as a one-person hobby has turned into an integral component of a major cleanup that is literally transforming Corinna's downtown. The website, which holds all EPA's information on the cleanup site, has seen more than 77,000 hits. Citizens often contact the website to ask questions, and Ken makes it his business to get answers. The excellent relationship between EPA and the community at Corinna is partly attributable to Ken's work. His contribution through this site was also recognized by the state of Maine, which gave him the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.