New London couple given EPA lifetime achievement award
NEW LONDON — John and Kittie Wilson have spent their lives giving of themselves to Mother Nature, so it is no surprise they are being honored for their life’s work protecting area water bodies.
On Tuesday afternoon the Wilsons stood in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall to receive the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement.
“We were just totally blown away, and we felt so very honored,” said Kittie Wilson.
The Wilsons were nominated for the award by the Loon Preservation Committee, the New Hampshire Lakes Association, and the Pleasant Lake Protective Association for their work on behalf of those organizations.
John Wilson has been active in the Pleasant Lake group since the 1970s, having served as its president for three terms and as a “Weed Watcher Captain” for the past 10 years, acting as part of a team to keep bad weeds from spreading into the lakes.
He has also served on the board of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, serving as chair of its public policy and advocacy committee from 2011-2012.
Kittie Wilson has been involved with the association for more than 20 years, serving as a board member and secretary for most of that time. She currently chairs the association’s Wildlife Committee.
In recent years, the Wilsons have been leading advocates for state legislation that bans the use and sale of lead fishing sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less, which is the largest known cause of New Hampshire adult loon mortality, said Sheridan Brown, counsel for the Loon Preservation Committee.
“The Wilsons were a crucial catalyst for the passage of the legislation by bringing together the Loon Preservation Committee, the New Hampshire Lakes association and the Pleasant Lake Association as partners. The Wilsons also attended numerous legislative hearings, organized association members, and lobbied legislators personally in support of the bill,” Brown said.
After repeated nest failures of Pleasant Lake’s loon pair, the Wilsons worked with LPC to build two loon nesting rafts for the lake — both of which have hatched chicks.
“I’m probably most proud and most pleased with our progress with the nesting loons. They have two little chicks each year,” Kittie Wilson said.
Kittie Wilson continues to educate and advocate for conservation through photojournalism in her own published works and the Pleasant Lake newsletter she produces, “All things Pleasant on the Lake.”
The Wilsons’ nomination for the award received endorsements from several state and federal elected officials, including both of New Hampshire’s senators.
“The Wilsons have a proven track record of advancing conservation efforts in a state that prides itself on responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
“John and Kittie have shown incredible dedication to protecting our lakes, watershed and wildlife in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region and the U.S. EPA Environmental Merit Award for Lifetime Achievement is a fitting recognition of their hard work,” Shaheen said.