Marion Stoddart – Nashua River Watershed Association

Marion Stoddart

In the early 1960’s, Marion Stoddart decided to restore the Nashua River in Massachusetts and New Hampshire which was then considered one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the United States. She met with Massachusetts Governor John Volpe, Fitchburg Mayor William Flynn and the executives of the paper mills that were polluting the Nashua and its tributaries with pulp and paper waste. Marion enlisted the help of thousands of people to successfully push for legislation including the 1965 Massachusetts Clean Water Act, the first in the nation.

Today the Nashua is near-pristine. Marion did not stop there but with the Nashua River Watershed Association which she founded spearheaded the protection of 174 miles of riverside greenways along the Nashua and its major tributaries including the J. Harry Rich State Forest, Nashua River Rail Trail and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. 

In 1987 she was a recipient of United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Award. She was profiled in National Geographic in 1993 and in a children’s book, “A River Ran Wild” by Lynne Cherry. In 2009 she was a National Women’s History Project Honoree as “One of the Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet.” In 2010, Susan Edward’s award winning 30 minute film “Work of 1000” was produced documenting Marion’s life and the restoration of the Nashua River.

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