On Tuesday Eric Hanson was awarded the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award along the shore of Lake Iroquois in Williston.
The award, named for Meeri Zetterstrom of Milton, Vermont. Zetterstrom inspired the recovery efforts that lead to the removal of the osprey from Vermont’s endangered species list.
“Eric’s remarkable dedication, leadership, and engagement of Vermonters are inspiring in the same way as Meeri Zetterstrom,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello, who worked on osprey recovery efforts with Zetterstrom for years. “When a Vermonter hears the haunting and distinct call of a loon, we have Eric to thank for his restoration work and leadership.”
During the late 1980s loons were placed on Vermont’s list of endangered species.
Through efforts spearheaded by Eric Hanson, a biologist with the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the loon population made a dramatic turn-around.
Eric has spent the last 21-years fighting the up hill battle, though he said this effort has been going on a total of 40-years.
According to Susan Hindinger, we aren’t out of the woods yet. “Less we are tempted to declare mission accomplished and close the book on this conservation success, the Vermont Loon Conservation Project remains as important as ever,” said Hindinger the associate director for Vermont Center for Ecostudies.
“We started really focusing on landowners, water levels, and disturbance issues. Everyone was worried back in the 1990s. We were not seeing much of a recovery after 15-years of work,” said Hanson.
As of today, Hanson says there are 100 nesting pairs in Vermont. It’s close to an ideal population for the state.
“We only have 150-200 lakes in the state that are good habitat for loons (they like 100 acres or larger bodies of water). So we are never going to see that many, in fact, I am almost hoping that the population starts to plateau a bit. They’ll fight each other, chase each other and cause nesting failure and chick loss in their battles with each other,” said Hanson.
He told Local 22 & Local 44 News receiving this award along the shore of Lake Iroquois had a special meaning. “We have over one hundred pairs now, active in the state. This one, being one of the newest ones here on Lake Iroquois.”