Blue Fin Award

History of the Award

The Blue Fin Award was developed as an opportunity to honor people and organizations that strive to improve Mountain Island Lake. This award honors those who dedicate their time and effort to improve the environment around Mountain Island Lake and work to ensure the safety of all who use it.

The award is dedicated to Barbara Lockwood, who was appointed as the first Chair of the Marine Commission in 1997. She served on the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners in the early 1990s and was a lake resident. During her second term as Chair she had to resign due to a terminal illness. The Commission established the Blue Fin Award in her memory in 2000. The Blue Fin Award was first given in 2001.

The Mountain Island Lake Marine Commission wishes to encourage the public’s assistance in furthering its mission to preserve and protect water quality, property and wildlife, and to promote public safety on the lake. Marine Commissioners realize that the public’s participation in caring for the lake is essential to preserving and protecting it for all its multiple uses.

Past Recipients


Kay_Killian_v22013 - Kay Killian
Kay Killian and her family have donated approximately 562 acres of land owned in Gaston and Lincoln Counties to the Catawba Lands Conservancy. The land borders Johnson Creek, the largest western tributary of Mountain Island Lake. Her family has lived in the Mountain Island area for generations and own land that would have been  prized for development. Instead, they placed their land into conservancy, preserving it as rural and protecting the water quality of Mountain Island Lake.

SteadmanSugg12012 – Steadman Sugg, Duke Energy
Steadman Sugg spearheaded an effort to design a litter prevention and stewardship program for Mountain Island Lake while in his role as project manager in the Water Strategy, Hydro Licensing and Lake Services group. The litter prevention initiative involved developing an interpretive signage program and posting 46 bilingual signs in popular recreation spots around the lake that encourage visitors to “pack out” their trash and keep the lake beautiful. This protects water quality, aquatic life and aesthetics along the shoreline and islands of the lake that provides drinking water for more than 750,000 in the Charlotte region.

IMG_31182011 – David Merryman, Catawba Riverkeeper
David Merryman was recognized for the testing which identified high levels of heavy metals and PCBs in fish and sediment, but also for many dedicated volunteer hours spent to respond to and prevent pollution of Mountain Island Lake.

Randy Miller2010 – Randy Miller, Mountain Island Wildlife Stewards
Randy Miller was recognized for his extensive volunteer work on the lake since 2007. Mr. Miller received training given by the Riverkeeper Foundation through the Muddy Water Watch Program and assisted in monitoring and reporting sediment violations around the lake.

Sgt. McCants2009 – Sgt. Charles McCants, Gaston County Police Department
Sgt. McCants, through his proactive command and directives had a positive impact on Mountain Island Lake by identifying a language barrier within the Hispanic community and resolved this by translating the No Trespassing brochures into Spanish. He also addressed parking problems at Riverbend Access Area by designating public parking spaces for law enforcement.

Diane Willis2008 – Diane Willis, Mountain Island Wildlife Stewards
In April, Diane Willis took the lead in organizing the Mountain Island Lake Wildlife Stewards, a chapter of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. Ms. Willis worked tirelessly toward achieving the mission of the Mountain Island Lake Wildlife Stewards to preserve and increase wildlife and wildlife habitat on the lake. Through her leadership, the chapter grew to 65 members.

2007 – Doug Hord, Gaston County Police
A long time member of the Marine Enforcement Unit, Mr. Hord was recognized for placing trespassing issues higher on the department’s priority list. Doug made a major difference in the cleanup of vacant land on Mountain Island Lake by evicting overnight campers. The Lake Management Committee determined that overnight camping was a major cause of the trash on vacant shoreline. His dedication re-enforced the efforts of the Lake Management Ad Hoc Committee and the Lake Management Group of Duke Energy.

Fred and Pat2005/2006 – Fred & Pat Hutchinson
Fred and Pat Hutchinson were honored for their dedication and constant enthusiasm for the betterment of Mountain Island Lake. They were regular members of the Mountain Island Covekeepers from the time the group was started. As a team, they have attended all the Big Sweeps to clean up the shoreline.

Pam Beck2004 – Pam Beck
Pam Beck led an effort to encourage the City of Gastonia to purchase an available piece of land which would have been otherwise been developed. In an effort to protect the water supply, the land has now been leased as part of the Educational State Forest.

2003 – Donna Lisenby
Donna Lisenby was Riverkeeper for the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. She led the opposition to the withdrawal of water from Lake Norman by Kannapolis and Concord. The treated water would not be returned to the Catawba River Basin and therefore would be an Interbasin Transfer (IBT). The water withdrawn would be significant as the area served was one of rapid growth.

Alice_Battle_10_02_13_v22002 – Alice Battle
Alice was head of the Hydrilla Ad Hoc Committee. Alice represented the Commission in meetings concentrating on the hydrilla problem and headed a group of lake residents who measured the effectiveness of the grass carp in controlling the weed.

K Manuel2001 – Ken Manuel, Duke Energy
Ken was assigned the task of controlling or eradicating the obnoxious water weed hydrilla. Hydrilla grew very rapidly in shallow Mountain Island Lake during the years of drought. At its height, hydrilla covered 600-800 acres. Ken’s work led Duke Power to periodically release grass carp into Mountain Island Lake to devour lake-clogging hydrilla.