2007 Alpine Steward Award Winner: Dick Fortin
The Waterman Fund presented its 2007 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award at the Fund’s annual dinner on Saturday, March 31 in Bradford, Vermont. Each year the award is given to a person or organization that has demonstrated a long-term commitment to protecting the physical and spiritual qualities of the northeast’s mountain wilderness.
This year’s recipient is Dick Fortin of Snowville, New Hampshire, a longtime Summit Steward on Welch and Dickey Mountains within the White Mountain National Forest in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire. Dick has also served as Adjunct Professor of Alpine Ecology at Antioch University of New England.
Dick first became involved in alpine stewardship in 1991 when, in cooperation with the White Mountain National Forest, the Sandwich Range Conservation Association hired him as New Hampshire’s first summit steward on Welch Mountain. In the intervening years, Dick has implemented a number of innovative and thoughtful approaches to caring for the heavily-hiked but fragile mountain soils and plant communities of the Welch and Dickey peaks. In addition, Dick has been monitoring alpine plants in the higher peaks of the northern Presidentials with his students from Antioch New England Graduate School.
Nat Scrimshaw, of the Center for Mountain Stewardship nominated Dick Fortin for the award. In nominating Dick, Nat wrote, “Characteristically, Dick was not content to simply duplicate ideas and strategies. Rather, he brought together a group of dedicated advisors so that new ideas and approaches could evolve. Modest and self-effacing, Dick deserves to be honored for his dedication and work.”
In presenting the award, Waterman Fund board member Laura Waterman noted that, “When Guy [Waterman] and I met Dick, we were impressed by the quiet and steady way he approached the task at hand- the stewardship of Welch and Dickey, talking with hikers about the fragility of the plants on the ledges. Dick took care of those mountains for years, virtually by himself. But I bet if we asked him why, he’d say he couldn’t have not done it.”
Fortin received a dramatic, framed photograph of Welch Mountain by noted outdoor photographer Ned Therrien, owner of North Star Photography in Gilford, New Hampshire.
Friends of the Waterman Fund attended the annual dinner, which was held at the Perfect Pear Restaurant. At the dinner, Fund President Carl Demrow announced three new long-term initiatives for the organization:
- Creating a permanent endowment for the popular Biennual New England Alpine Stewardship Gathering.
- Creating a permanent endowment for the support of applied research projects in New England’s alpine areas.
- Funding a writing fellowship to carry on the thoughtful discourse of alpine issues in the spirit of Guy and Laura Waterman’s many works.
Demrow urged any parties interested in those initiatives to contact the Fund with their thoughts and advice.