Craftsbury man awarded for helping save the common loon in Vermont

in Craftsbury/News/Outdoors/Vermont

WILLISTON — Craftsbury resident Eric Hanson was recently presented the 2019 GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award.

Hanson is a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE) who spearheaded recovery of the formerly endangered common loon in Vermont.

Hanson’s efforts over the past 21 years have included work to educate Vermonters about loons and their nesting needs, protect nest sites, assist injured and sick loons, and ultimately build a sustainable breeding population.

His leadership led to the loons’ removal from Vermont’s endangered species list in 2005.

Statewide, loons have rebounded from a low of only seven nesting pairs in the mid-1980s to nearly 100 the past two summers.

The award was presented at Lake Iroquois, one of the state’s most recently established loon nesting sites.

“When a Vermonter hears the haunting and distinct call of a loon, we have Eric to thank for his restoration work and leadership,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello.

Chris Rimmer, executive director of VCE, said that when Hanson learned of the award, he was characteristically humble and insistent that the credit was widely shared.

“Without question, a major reason for the successful comeback of loons in Vermont is that boaters and lakeshore owners have been made aware of what loons need, and they’re eager to help,” Hanson said. “I have over 1,400 people on my contact list, including individual volunteers, lake associations, state parks, game wardens, and other groups. These people share their love of loons with thousands more than I could possibly reach.”

The GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award is given annually to one person, business, group or non-profit that has made a significant contribution to Vermont’s environment.

The award is accompanied by a $2,500 donation to the winner’s environmental cause.

“It is no understatement that Eric has accomplished more for the conservation of Vermont’s environment, focusing on the common loon, than any of us will ever truly realize,” Rimmer said. “He has led VCE’s efforts to increase loon nesting nearly tenfold and engaged hundreds of citizen scientists and members of the public in the process. He’s one of the greatest collaborators I’ve ever known, and delivers results that have a big impact on the environment.”

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