Deen among winners of River Network awards

BOULDER, COLO. — Five leaders from the river and water conservation community have been recognized by national non-profit organization River Network for their exceptional personal and professional achievements in support of river and water protection and restoration. The 2017 River Heroes are Margaret Frisbie of Chicago, Ill., Angie Rosser of Charleston, W.V., David Sligh of Charlottesville, Virg., David Deen of Westminster, Vt., and Denny Caneff of Madison, Wisc.

Deen was the River Steward of the Connecticut River Watershed Council until he recently resigned the position. He also is a representative in the Vermont State House.

"The Connecticut is New England's iconic river, and David Deen is its iconic advocate," said James Ehlers, executive director of Lake Champlain International. "He is a true River Hero in every sense. His leadership, knowledge, and dedication have won significant environmental protections for the four-state Connecticut River Watershed and for the entire State of Vermont."

As the River Steward for the Connecticut River Watershed Council, David Deen has been responsible for public education and advocacy on issues in the Vermont and New Hampshire reach of the river since 1998. The job included regulatory affairs, river cleanup, hydro dam relicensing, and presentations to citizen groups about the river.

Deen has served in the Vermont Legislature for 29 years as chair of the Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife Committee among other assignments including ranking member of the House Rules Committee. He also serves on the board of the Connecticut River Chapter of Trout Unlimited and as a member of the Vermont Community Foundation. He tries to fish whenever he can and represents fishing interests on the Vermont Connecticut River Joint Commissions.

River Network has recognized 78 individuals from the U.S. and beyond with the prestigious River Hero award since 2002. This annual award is unique within the conservation community given its focus on water, local champions, and peer recognition. Each candidate must be nominated by those they work with who attest to their transformative work on a particular river or geography. Letters of support from community members, local elected representatives, governors, members of congress, and national conservation leaders make final decisions very difficult.

"Our River Heroes go far beyond what we expect and even what we imagine is possible for our rivers," said Nicole Silk, River Network president. "Local leaders like these are essential to uniting people to solve water problems. They are creating a future where healthy rivers and thriving communities are the rule rather than the exception. By recognizing these Heroes, we get to shine a bright light on their accomplishments and hold them high as shining examples to inspire us all to do more. We offer our warmest congratulations to these champions for our waters."

River Network presented a hand-carved paddle award to each of the winners during the 2017 River Heroes banquet and awards ceremony on May 11 in Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of the organization's annual River Rally conference. Now in its 18th year, River Rally attracts more than 400 river enthusiasts, water protectors, and conservation practitioners from across the country for education, inspiration, and celebration with one another.

For details about the River Hero program, visit


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