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Lewis Creek Association’s Illick recognized for protecting nature

MIDDLEBURY — For 24 years Otter Creek Audubon Society has given an annual award, the Silver Feather, to an individual “in honor of notable devotion, dedication and untiring effort on behalf of the preservation and appreciation of the birds, other wildlife, and natural communities of Addison County.”
This year the Silver Feather was awarded to Marty Illick, the retiring Lewis Creek Association executive director. The award presentation was made at the Otter Creek Audubon annual dinner on Nov. 9 at the American Legion post in Middlebury.
Illick has been the Lewis Creek Association’s director since the organization’s inception in 1990. The primary focus of the organization has been water quality of two watersheds: Lewis Creek, which runs through northern Addison County and southern Chittenden County, and the LaPlatte River, which meanders through Charlotte, Hinesburg and Shelburne.
The OCAS said Illick and the Lewis Creek Association have provided exemplary leadership in many creative ways.
•  In 1995 Illick, as its director, teamed with Bristol resident David Brynn, then the Addison County forester, to sponsor a series of sustainable forestry workshops for family forest owners, out of which the organization Vermont Family Forests was born.
•  Along with the town of Monkton, Vermont Agency of Transportation and the federal government, Illick and the LCA planned and then raised funds for two wildlife and amphibian underpasses on the Monkton-Vergennes Road in Monkton. The underpasses have now allowed many mammals and hundreds of amphibians safe passage between upland forest overwintering sites and an important breeding wetland. Prior to the 2015 establishment of the underpasses amphibians crossing the road to breed suffered 50 percent mortality.
•  Illick created the plan for “Ahead of the Storm,” using 14 demonstration sites for the LaPlatte River Watershed Partnership to showcase optimal conservation practices in a variety of landscape settings.
•  Illick and the Lewis Creek Association were recipients of the GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award for their decades-long hard work to improve habitat, water quality and recreation opportunities for Lewis Creek. As Steve Costello, a Green Mountain Power vice president, said: “That kind of perseverance is uncommon and inspiring.”
•  Illick has served on the Charlotte selectboard and planning commission, the Charlotte Land Trust, the Vermont Natural Resources Council board, served for 17 years on the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, and has led Lewis Creek Association participation in the Addison County Riverwatch Cooperative since 1995.
Also at the Nov. 9 OCAS meeting, Mike Winslow, former staff scientist for the Lake Champlain Committee and currently at St. Michael’s College, intrigued the audience with a carefully documented presentation on the history of multiple major phosphorus additions to Lake Champlain and its impact on water quality, including algae blooms.

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