Featured, Local News

Rutland’s Roy Pilcher wins GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award

By Robin Alberti

Photo One: Roy Pilcher

Photo Two: Roy Pilcher AND STEVE COSTELLO

RUTLAND—A Rutland man who has devoted four decades to protecting birds and the environment was presented the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award Friday, May 22.

Roy Pilcher, who founded Rutland County Audubon and has served as president and in other lead roles for more than 40 years, was presented with the award during a ceremony at the West Rutland Marsh, an Audubon “Important Bird Area,” a designation Pilcher was instrumental in obtaining.

The annual award, named for famed osprey advocate Meeri Zetterstrom, comes with $2,500 to support Rutland County Audubon’s ongoing work.

“Roy is an example for all Vermonters to emulate,” said Mary Powell, president and CEO of Green Mountain Power. “He has devoted nearly half his life to creating and improving bird and other wildlife habitat, introduced hundreds of people to birds and nature, and created awareness of and the tools to ensure good stewardship of important ecological sites.”

Pilcher, who was nominated by Marvin Elliott, helped found Rutland County Audubon in 1974 and led the effort to designate the West Rutland Marsh and the Lake Bomoseen and Hubbardton marshes as Important Bird Areas. He was also a key leader in the creation of the West Rutland Bridge-to-Bridge Interpretive Trail, chairs the local Christmas Bird Count, and is an active educator, working with children and adults.

“By teaching people to understand what they are seeing in the environment, Roy has helped broaden the understanding of environmental issues and values for thousands of people over his lifetime,” Elliott said.

GMP Vice President Steve Costello, who worked on osprey restoration with Zetterstrom for more than a decade, said the selection committee was inspired by the depth and breadth of Pilcher’s environmental activities. “Meeri Zetterstrom was completely dedicated to her efforts to protect ospreys, and Roy is made from a similar mold,” Costello said. “Roy’s efforts have made a huge difference in Rutland County, benefitting the environment, visitors and residents today, as well as generations of people and wildlife to follow.”

The award, first presented in 2010 shortly after Zetterstrom’s death, was created to honor her legacy and recognize others who follow her example. 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 of Rutland’s Pine Hill Park; Margaret Fowle, who led Vermont’s peregrine falcon restoration program; the Lake Champlain Committee, which for five decades has used science-based advocacy, education and collaboration to protect and improve Lake Champlain; and Kelly Stettner, who founded the Black River Action Team, which protects the Black River in southeastern Vermont.

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