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Murie Award


MacKinnon and Lavigne Receive Award For Work to Protect White Mountain National Forest

WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 15, 2001--- The Wilderness Society presented Evelyn MacKinnon and Fred Lavigne of Center Sandwich, New Hampshire, with the Olaus and Margaret (Mardy) Murie Award tonight in recognition of their tireless efforts to protect special places like the Sandwich Range in the White Mountain National Forest.

The award is given annually to a person, usually unheralded, who has shown dedication to protecting the nation's natural heritage. "Evelyn and Fred are inspirational," said Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows. "They have put in more time than anyone could measure working with fellow conservationists, the U.S. Forest Service, and others to make sure that future generations will have the same opportunity all of us have today to enjoy the White Mountain National Forest. We are honored to work alongside them."

"We take special pleasure," Meadows said, "in paying tribute to a husband-and-wife team since this award is named for another exceptional couple." Olaus Murie, an acclaimed naturalist, was president of The Wilderness Society from 1945 to 1962. He and his wife, Mardy, spent years promoting legislation that would protect wild places from development. President Clinton presented Mardy Murie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 1998.

"This is quite an honor for us," said MacKinnon. "I feel blessed that forests are such an integral part of our daily lives, and I hope the small contributions we're making can help protect and preserve these special places." MacKinnon and Lavigne, who grew up in Berlin, NH, helped found the Friends of Sandwich Range in 1998 with the goals of doubling the 25,000-acre Sandwich Range Wilderness Area and creating a special designation for Sandwich Notch, a historic settlement. They live on a small farm on the edge of the Sandwich Range Wilderness, where they raise much of their own food organically.

"This is totally out of the blue," said Lavigne. "In a sense, I don't feel we should get this much credit. There are so many people involved in protecting the Whites. I wish we could get all their names on this award." A self-employed logger, Lavigne said, "Obviously, I believe in using forest lands to meet our needs, but I don't think we have to log everywhere, and some parts of the White Mountain National Forest are perfect places for nature to run its course. New Hampshire is a small place, and every acre of wild land will mean that much more to the next generations of wildlife, plants, and people. We are lucky to live where we do, but with that good fortune comes a responsibility to give back any way we can to these special lands. New Hampshire wouldn't be what it is without the White Mountain National Forest."

"It's people like Fred and Evelyn who make my work possible," said Julie Wormser, The Wilderness Society's Northeast regional director. "So much of their lives revolve around the national forest, whether they are taking Forest Service employees out on hikes to discuss their concerns, or doing volunteer trail maintenance in the Sandwich Range, or participating in forest planning meetings, or heading out for a week at a time to go camping and exploring. They are extremely effective advocates for the forest, and are able to, in the nicest way, encourage dozens of their neighbors to also get involved. And anyone who has had a chance to get to know Fred and Evelyn knows how incredibly funny and kind they are. They're just terrific people and I'm so glad to know them."

The 12 previous winners include Buzz Caverly, the long-time superintendent of Baxter State Park in Maine. He was honored in 1991.

The Murie Award was presented at a meeting of The Wilderness Society's Governing Council, which also bestowed the Ansel Adams Award on Georgia Congressman John Lewis. Known originally for his work with Martin Luther King, Lewis also has made his mark as a defender of the nation's public lands and wildlife. The award was given as The Wilderness Society dedicated its Ansel Adams Gallery, featuring original prints from the famous photographer's collection.

(For further information see the Wilderness Society web page.)

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