Forest Society Presents Sarah Thorne Conservation Award

April 11, 2006


Amanda Nickerson, Communications Specialist
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 301

Forest Society Presents Sarah Thorne Conservation Award

Concord, N.H., April 12, 2006— Margaret Watkins, Executive Director of the Piscataquog Watershed Association, was awarded the second annual Sarah Thorne Conservation Award, given to a member of the conservation community who has contributed in an outstanding way.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests created the award in 2005 in honor of Sarah Thorne, a Forest Society staff member who dedicated 20 years of her career to land conservation in New Hampshire. The award focuses on people who go beyond working on their own conservation projects and endeavor to increase the capacity of others to permanently protect land and natural resources. It is the only statewide award that is given without regard to the recipient’s organizational affiliation.

"I feel deeply honored to receive an award named after someone who I admire and respect as much as I do Sarah Thorne,” Watkins said. “I have also been fortunate to have had so many opportunities through my work and volunteer pursuits to satisfy my commitment to land conservation.” Watkins also attributed her motivation and success to being inspired by local residents who seek her help to conserve precious lands and resources throughout New Hampshire.

Watkins, a Dunbarton resident, has been instrumental in the preservation of key lands in her backyard through more than two decades of service on Dunbarton’s Conservation Commission. She helped create the Kuncanowet Hills Town Forest and Conservation Area by securing donations of 370 acres from four landowners to match the purchase of 173 additional acres on Gorham Pond.

Watkins has also been instrumental in regional conservation. She helped form and guide the Lamprey River Advisory Committee, encouraging the committee to work with nine landowners to protect 755 acres and more than five miles of frontage on the Lamprey River. In addition, she assisted other river and trail groups with technical assistance through her work with the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance Program.

Watkins served as a board member and president (in 1999) of the Piscataqoug Watershed Association (PWA). She became executive director in 2003, and with her strategic vision she has dramatically increased PWA’s land conservation capacity. From 2000 – 2005 the total acres protected soared from 697 to 2030, membership doubled, and PWA’s annual fund increased seven-fold.

As the Sarah Thorne Conservation Award recipient, Watkins name has been inscribed on a permanent exhibit at the Conservation Center in Concord.

The Sarah Thorne Conservation Award was presented to Watkins at the fifth annual Saving Special Places conference which is hosted by the Center for Land Conservation Assistance -- a program of the Forest Society, the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, and the NH Office of Energy and Planning.  Held in Wolfeboro on April 1, the annual conference hosted 250 conservationists from around the state. Attendees enjoyed a day of networking, workshops, fieldtrips, and the award presentation to Watkins.

"Margaret has had a substantial impact both in her own back yard and in other areas of the state,” said Thorne at the conference. “I am truly honored to present this award to her today.”

Margaret Watkins really stood out among this year’s excellent candidates for the Sarah Thorne Conservation Award,” said Dijit Taylor, Director of the Center for Land Conservation Assistance at the Forest Society. “Through years of effort as both a dedicated local volunteer and a skilled professional, she has had a great impact on many diverse conservation projects. It is an honor for CLCA to be able to present an award that recognizes the successes of such an effective conservation leader.”

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.