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Former State Rep. David Deen Granted Lifetime Achievement Award By Regional EPA Office

David Deen stands in his yard
Howard Weiss-Tisman
David Deen stands in his yard outside his home in Westminster. Deen will receive a lifetime merit award from the EPA New England office.

David Deen spent the better part of three decades helping to pass laws that protect Vermont's land and water, and now the former state representative is being recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency for that work. Deen will receive an Environmental Merit Lifetime Award from the federal agency's regional office.

Deen was first elected as Windham County's District 4 representative in 1990. A lifelong fisherman, Deen said he got involved in Vermont politics to pass laws that have a lasting impact on Vermont's environment.

He said he learned pretty quickly that it takes compromise, patience and time to get bills over the finish line.

"You know, you have these images of you're going to go and snap your fingers and things are gonna happen," he said during an interview at his home in Westminster. "Forget it. It's a lot of work."

And all of that work, which led to dozens of environmental laws, is now being recognized by the EPA's New England Office.

"EPA at the national level's not all it should be,” said Deen. "But I know the people who work in the regional office — and I respect them, their work and their opinions. And for them to have that opinion of me was quite touching."

EPA New England gives out lifetime achievement awards annually to people whose work has led "measurable, lasting and sustained results over a career or a lifetime."

"[David Deen] has been a powerful advocate, as well as a convener, in the important work to make sure that we're considering all perspectives and aspects as we look to improve, restore, sustain the quality of Vermont's waters." — Secretary Julie Moore, Vermont Agency of Natural Resources

Vermont Secretary of Natural Resources Julie Moore nominated Deen for the merit award.

"David is both personally and professionally committed to clean water," said Moore, "and has been a powerful advocate, as well as a convener, in the important work to make sure that we're considering all perspectives and aspects as we look to improve, restore, sustain the quality of Vermont's waters."

Moore said after 30 years in the House — including almost 15 years as chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife — Deen helped move a number of important bills to the governor's desk.

She said Deen's bill that designated ground water as a legally protected public trust resource will have a lasting impact on generations of Vermonters.

"David Deen has a long track record, obviously, of stewardship — from 30 years as a legislator to his work with the Connecticut River Conservancy have both had really significant impacts on the quality of Vermont's rivers, lakes, streams, ponds and wetlands," Moore said.  

Lawmakers seated at a table hear testimony
Credit Peter Hirschfeld / VPR File
VPR File
Then-Rep. David Deen, center, listens to testimony on a water quality bill in the spring of 2018. At this time Deen was also serving as chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish & Wildlife. After nearly 30 years in the House, he decided to not seek re-election in 2018.

Deen is done with his legislative duties, having decided not to seek re-election in 2018. He's fishing a lot more, now that he's not responsible for summer study committees and campaigning.

But he said the work to protect the state's waters continues. He's involved withthe Vermont chapter of Trout Unlimited, and he ticks off some of the projects that are keeping him busy:

"Healthy waters and fisheries in the Green Mountain National Forest which our chapter's been involved with their plan," he said. "Helping Guilford do streamside planting to stabilize the Green River. You know, helping the Saxtons River group stabilize the banks of the Saxtons River. It’s all one of the same, doing it hands on or doing it at the legislative level; you’re doing something."

His award comes at a time when news about Vermont's waters has been alarming. Deen said he would have liked to figure out a long-term funding source for cleaning up Lake Champlain and Vermont's other polluted waters, but he's confident the state is closer now than it's ever been.

Deen will collect his award from the EPA at a ceremony in Boston next month.


Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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