Midge and Tim Eliassen of Sunapee Named 2023 Conservationists of the Year

Forest Society honors protectors of Lake Sunapee and Mount Kearsarge

Kelly Whalen | October 3, 2023
Tim and Midge Eliassen pose with their award with Christmas tree fields in the background.

Tim Eliassen, President Jack Savage, and Midge Eliassen. (Photo Ryan Smith)

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests presented its Conservationist of the Year Award at its 122nd Annual Meeting held on September 23, 2023. This prestigious award honors people whose work to promote and achieve conservation is exemplary; people whose actions have made a difference not just in their own backyards, but also have advanced the protection and stewardship of land statewide.

This year, Midge and Tim Eliassen of Sunapee were honored as the Conservationists of the Year in recognition of their longtime activism, leadership and support of lake issues, forest conservation, recreation trails, and land conservation in the Lake Sunapee and Mount Kearsarge region. 

“Midge and Tim are literally and figuratively, trailblazers,” states Jack Savage, president of the Forest Society. “They devote countless hours to helping to strengthen and prepare local and statewide conservation, advocacy, and recreation organizations to chart a greener future in New Hampshire. Both have contributed in so many ways, not only to the Forest Society, but to the lakes and forests of New Hampshire.”

“I see your choice of us to receive this great honor as a salute to the significance of volunteerism - the importance of working for and giving back to what you value,” states Midge Eliassen. “It is such an honor to have been recognized for our small contributions to the incredibly important work of the Forest Society. For Tim and me, the pleasure of serving what we value in the context of leading organizations whose missions support these values has been a gift to us. We hope that the next generation of young people will see the importance and pleasure of giving your time to something you value.”

Midge Eliassen speak upon accepting their award at the meeting.
Midge and Tim Eliassen accepted their award at the Annual Meeting. (Photo: Ryan Smith)
Midge is Secretary of the Board for the all-volunteer Pine Hill Nordic Ski Club in New London, a non-profit organization that maintains 20 kilometers of trails groomed by volunteers for classic cross-country skiing. She is a past Board Member of the Lake Sunapee Protective Association (LSPA) and helped to lead their 125th Anniversary celebration this year. Midge is deeply committed to environmental education to protect water quality at Lake Sunapee and teaching about the relationship between land use in the Sunapee watershed and protecting shorelines and water quality via the current LSPA “Let’s Be Clear” initiative.

Tim is past Chair and current Sunapee Director for the volunteer-led Sunapee-Ragged-Kearsarge Greenway Coalition (SRKGC) celebrating its 30th Anniversary. The SRK Greenway is a 75-mile trail loop encircling Lake Sunapee while connecting Mounts Sunapee, Ragged Mountain, and Kearsarge. He has served on the Outreach Committee for the Ausbon Sargeant Land Preservation Trust (ASLPT) working to preserve the rural landscape of the Sunapee region and now protecting 13,500 acres in their 12-town region.

“Of course, Midge and Tim’s support for the statewide work of the Forest Society is no less impressive,” adds Savage.

Midge served on the Forest Society Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2013 and following her term she was instrumental in leading the Forest Society’s Second Century Committee. Her voice on standing committees has been creative and clear, serving on the Research Committee (2007-2009), Reservation Stewardship Committee (2007-2020), Outreach Committee (2007-present), and Executive Committee (2010-2013). Midge continues to bring steadfast wisdom and guidance to the ongoing work of the Outreach Committee and has written and provided her photographs for the Forest Society’s Forest Notes magazine.

Tim has volunteered on stewardship projects for the Forest Society, including rebuilding our deck overlooking the Merrimack at the Conservation Center in Concord. “Midge and Tim together put their actions where their words are, with a generous donation of real estate in Warren to the Forest Society’s “Assets to Acres” initiative as Land donors in 2021.

They literally “walk the talk” while creating the land conservation landscape and building the social network for future success,” adds Savage.