Lewis Creek Assoc. director honored with environmental award

Marty Illick

Shelburne resident Marty Illick was recognized yesterday for her dedication to local watersheds with the eighth annual Green Mountain Power Zetterstrom Environmental Award.

Illick and the Lewis Creek Association, of which she is the executive director, were honored at a ceremony at the Vermont State Fish and Wildlife Fishing Access in Shelburne.

The award is named for the late, famed osprey advocate Meeri Zetterstrom of Milton and it honors Illick’s more than 25 years of work and education to improve the Lewis Creek watershed, which spans Ferrisburgh, Monkton, Charlotte, Hinesburg, Starksboro and Bristol in Addison and Chittenden counties.

Illick was nominated for the award by employees of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, who praised her for her great tenacity and skill in using data as a tool to support conservation in the watershed.

“Over the last 10 years, the LCA has persevered and continues to improve the evolving relationship it has with state and local governments,” nominators Jim Pease and Karen Bates said. “The LCA has, more than any other water quality non-profit organization in the state, delved into the complexities of water quality monitoring, stream geology and the interaction between water quality, nutrient runoff and land use.”

Like Meeri Zetterstrom, who was never afraid of ruffling feathers as she worked to restore nearly extinct ospreys to Vermont’s skies, Illick and the LCA have embraced the difficult conversations that often accompany environmental progress. GMP Vice President Steve Costello, who worked closely on osprey education and conservation with Zetterstrom for years before she died in 2010, said Zetterstrom would applaud Illick and the LCA.

“Meeri had an unbending commitment to Vermont and the environment at large, and knew that water quality was critically important,” Costello said. “Like Meeri, Marty and the LCA have taken the long view, working over decades to improve habitat, water quality and recreational opportunities along Lewis Creek. “That kind of perseverance is uncommon and inspiring.”

Zetterstrom began what became a statewide initiative to restore endangered ospreys in Vermont in the late 1980s. Despite people annoying the birds accidentally and intentionally, and repeated nest failures, Zetterstrom remained focused on her goal, with the end result being that the birds were removed from the endangered species list in 2005.

Plans for the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award were announced in 2010, shortly before Zetterstrom died, with three goals: recognizing similar environmental heroes, honoring Zetterstrom’s legacy, and inspiring others.

Illick and the LCA were unanimous winners in a selection process that involved a panel of GMP employees with responsibilities related to land management, resource protection, community relations and education, and environmental compliance.

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