Meeri Zetterstrom probably had no intention of becoming a standard bearer for conservation work when she took up the plight of her beloved osprey at Lake Arrowhead on the border of Milton and Georgia.
But after Vermont’s osprey had nearly been extirpated from the state nearly a half-century earlier, Zetterstrom was among the first to watch the osprey return to Arrowhead.
And she knew they needed help.
So she started poking and prodding the Fish & Wildlife Department.
By 1988 the state wildlife department had partnered with Central Vermont Public Service to install artificial nesting platforms and create buffer zones to protect the nesting efforts. Green Mountain Power started similar efforts.
They also started working to educate the public about the plight of the osprey and producing educational materials.
One of those early converts was Steve Costello, who at the time worked for CVPS, and who worked with Zetterstrom on osprey conservation.
Today, with the two companies merged, Costello is a vice president with GMP and still a fan of the osprey and involved in conservation efforts. During warmer months, he can often be found floating in his kayak hoping for another photo of an osprey to add to his growing collection of spectacular shots.
“Meeri had an innate ability to connect people with nature and explain the importance of conservation and wildlife preservation,” Costello said. “She inspired me personally and helped start and lead a statewide conversation that led directly to the preservation and recovery of ospreys, and ultimately their removal from Vermont’s endangered species list.”
Zetterstrom’s dogged pursuit of osprey recovery paid off. About a decade after the Fish & Wildlife Department and CVPS and GMP began their efforts, the first osprey chick in memory hatched and fledged at Lake Arrowhead.
Seven years after that, the osprey was removed from the Vermont Endangered Species List.
Zetterstrom died in 2010, but her legacy lives on and GMP honors that legacy every year by rewarding someone in her name for their environmental efforts.
Three Vermonters have been honored and a fourth will be named this year as Green Mountain Power awards the 2013 GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award.
Nominations are being taken for an individual, business, group or nonprofit that has made a significant contribution to Vermont’s environment.
The winner will receive a $2,500 donation to the winner’s cause.
“The award highlights the ongoing efforts of some of Vermont’s most forward-thinking environmentalists,” said GMP President and CEO Mary Powell. “We will continue to solicit nominations and honor a special Vermonter each year to highlight Meeri’s legacy as part of our ongoing commitment to Vermont’s air, land and water.”
Zetterstrom inspired countless Vermonters through her dogged efforts to protect and restore Vermont’s osprey population.
Past award recipients include Sally Laughlin, a leading wildlife advocate and scientist whose work was instrumental in restoring three species of endangered birds in Vermont; Michael Smith, the founder and driving force behind Rutland’s Pine Hill Park; and Margaret Fowle, who has long led Vermont’s peregrine falcon restoration program, which is responsible for their return from the brink of extinction.
Nominations for the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award will be accepted through March 15, and the winner announced in the spring.
The winner will be chosen by a panel of GMP employees with responsibilities related to land management, resource protection, community relations and education, and environmental compliance.
Nominations may be made by the nominee or by any other entity, and should demonstrate a commitment of the nominee to benefit Vermont, its land, air or water, wildlife, or the enjoyment of the outdoors by others.
This may be through educational efforts, environmental stewardship, resource rehabilitation, protection or preservation, or conservation.
The award is intended to support environmental protection and inspire individuals to benefit Vermont’s environment.
Vermonters of any age may be nominated.
For a nomination application and more information, visit www.greenmountainpower.com
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