MEREDITH — Dave and Marge Thorpe, who have lived on the shore of Lake Wicwas for the past 32 years, have been awarded the John F. Morten Award in recognition of their exemplary stewardship of the lake by the New Hampshire Lakes Association.
"I'm a little surprised and quite humbled to receive the award given all the work so many other folks have done for our lakes," Dave said yesterday. The Thorpes are the first residents of Meredith to be so honored since the late State Senator Carl Johnson received the inaugural award in 2002. Describing Marge as "more excited a nature lover than I am," Dave said that "between the two of us we make a pretty good team."
Harry Vogel, executive director of the Loon Preservation Society, called the Thorpes "the eyes and ears of the lake" and was echoed by Amy Smagula of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, who remarked "I feel comfortable knowing that Lake Wicwas is in such good hands."
The Thorpes acquired property on Lake Wicwas in 1982 and became year around residents a decade later. However, by 1984 Dave had taken responsibility for managing the water level of the lake in partnership with the town Fire Chief. He explained that the lake was created the early 1930s after being logged, dammed and flooded. Dave he volunteered to care for the dam and, as an accomplished engineer and machinist, installed a gauge to measure water levels. Thirty years later he continues to consult with Dan Leonard, Superintendent of the Water Department, about managing lake levels.
In the 1990s Dave identified structural weaknesses in the dam and suggested a new dam should be constructed, which was done with assistance of the Lake Wicwas Association (LWA) in 2006. Meanwhile, he recalled wrestling with recurrent problems caused by other engineers on the lake — beavers — more than two dozen of which were trapped and resettled.
Since they arrived on the lake the Thorpes have been mainstays of the LWA. Both have served on the Water Quality Committee since 2000 and recently arranged for students of New Hampton School to conduct water testing as part of their curriculum. Marge twice served as president of the LWA and in her first term secured a grant to acquire property placed under a conservation easement to protect Hamlin Park. The Thorpes also encouraged the New Hampshire Lakes Association to station Lake Hosts on weekends to prevent the spread of invasive species to the lake.
"The lake is in good shape," Dave said, noting that "there are no invasive weeds and we fledge a loon chick virtually every year. Although proud of sharing the award with his wife, he noted that the efforts of deserving volunteers to protect and enhance "more stressed lakes" should not be overlooked.
Tom O'Brien, executive director of the New Hampshire Lakes Association, will present the award at the annual meeting of the LWA at the Wicwas Grange on Saturday, August 2, beginning at 10 a.m.