December 19, 2014
By Laurie Morrissey
Communications and Marketing
On December 12, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that John Little '82 has been working toward for the past decade. The bill officially designates the Missisquoi River in northern Vermont as "wild and scenic."
It was like an early Christmas gift.
"Ten and a half years of effort have paid off for our local rivers," says the alumnus, who lives in northern Vermont near the Canadian border. There are more than 250 rivers so designated in the country, he says. The Missisquoi is the first in Vermont, and it forms part of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail that winds through Maine, Vermont, and Quebec. Designation as a wild and scenic river will make funds available for further protection efforts, Little believes.
Every river in America is threatened in one way or another, he said in a 2009 interview with Portraits, the college's alumni magazine.
"Rivers are better off than they were 40 years ago. With another 20, hopefully people will realize what they have and do more to protect them," he says.
An avid paddler, skier, and longtime high school science teacher, Little takes every opportunity to educate people about watershed protection. He received a Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence and Pollution Prevention for a watershed education project he developed. He attends citizens' meetings in the towns bordering the river, talks with federal officials, and leads the Missisquoi River Basin Association. In addition to advocacy, their efforts include sampling water, picking up trash on the riverbanks, and planting trees as a buffer alongside cornfields.