NRCM news release
Augusta, ME – The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), the state’s leading nonprofit membership organization working to protect Maine’s land, air, water, and wildlife, has named its 2014 Conservation Leadership Award winners. Award recipients will be honored at a special event Wednesday, October 15 from 5–7:00 p.m., at Maple Hill Farm Inn and Conference Center, in Hallowell. This year’s recipients are:
Jim and Kathy Wellehan of Auburn, Lifetime Achievement Award, for demonstrating that what is good for the environment is good for business. As Lamey Wellehan celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the Natural Resources Council of Maine celebrates the immense commitment Jim and Kathy Wellehan have made to protecting Maine’s environment. Examples of this commitment are many, and powerful. In 2003, the company became increasingly concerned about climate change. In response, Lamey Wellehan set a goal of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by the year 2020. By the end of 2013, the company was already more than 30 percent toward that goal. By investing in improved lighting, insulation, fuel and vehicle changes, and solar energy, the company reduced its environmental footprint while also improving its bottom line, as the company’s energy costs dropped from $91,000 to $79,000. Jim and Kathy have worked hard to get this message out to other businesses, encouraging them to follow their lead. Further, NRCM staff members consider Jim Wellehan as one of our go-to businesspeople when it comes to speaking up in support of efforts to protect Maine’s environment. He has worked with us on issues ranging from energy efficiency and solar energy to stopping rollbacks on safeguards for Maine’s land, air, water, and wildlife, and many others. At a press conference on February 14th, 2011—Valentine’s Day—Jim participated in a press conference in the Hall of the Flags at the State House to urge lawmakers to protect laws that have helped keep Maine so special. “As he delivered wonderful and heartfelt comments with a sea of people behind him, he called up a young mother and her children to stand beside him,” says NRCM’s advocacy director Pete Didisheim. “That’s how Jim sees these issues, as our obligation to future generations.” In 1994, Kathy led efforts to reduce the company’s solid waste. Under her guidance, the company dramatically increased recycling efforts by setting up bins and sorting stations for all the solid waste generated by the warehouse, stores, and office. By year-end they were recycling 95 percent of the solid waste that came in, winning the Governor’s Waste Management Award. Today, that number has bumped up to 96 percent, setting an example for individuals and businesses everywhere.
Lorette Adams (Easton), Alice Bolstridge (Presque Isle), Gail Maynard (Woodland), and Shelly Mountain (Mapleton), 2014 Conservation Leadership Award, for their unwavering determination to ensure that Maine implements strong, commonsense regulations to protect our waters, wildlife, and citizens from dangerous mining pollution. Near the end of the 2012 legislative session, a bill was introduced to weaken Maine’s mining rules, at the request of J.D. Irving, a huge Canadian mining conglomerate. Irving proposed to build a large, open-pit mine at Bald Mountain in Aroostook County. Such a mining operation would put important water resources at risk from sulfuric acid and toxic heavy metals. This pollution persists for hundreds of years, would likely leave Maine taxpayers with cleanup costs, and put human health and wildlife habitat at risk, including some of our state’s most important brook trout habitat.
These Aroostook County residents grasped the seriousness of the threat posed by J.D. Irving’s bill. Lorette Adams, Alice Bolstridge, Gail Maynard, and Shelly Mountain soon became the most important voices from the County on the mining issue. Among their work: making the long trip down from the County to give crucial testimony before the Board of Environmental Protection and the Maine Legislature, Their strong views and connections in the County inspired others from that part of the state to come to Augusta to testify as well. As a result, Aroostook County citizen voices were far more powerful than the pro-mining lobby. Without these four women, this would not have been the case. The Legislature rejected the LePage Administration’s weak mining rules, which is good news for Aroostook County residents and also for everyone who lives in and loves Maine, because the risk of metal mining pollution extends to many other places in Maine where companies may want to mine, including Cobscook Bay and the Moosehead Lake region. These women were key to that victory.
Peter Kallin (Rome) and Peter Lowell (Bridgton), 2014 Conservation Leadership Award, for their tireless efforts to protect the water quality of Maine’s lakes. Maine’s spectacular lakes are among our most precious natural resources, providing essential habitat for wildlife, from insects and fish to birds and mammals, and for us humans. Maine lakes are treasured for the recreational opportunities and solitude, but they are also valuable to Maine’s economy, generating at least $3.5 billion in economic activity annually and helping to sustain more than 50,000 jobs. But protecting our lakes is not an easy task, and has been particularly challenging over the past few years. The current administration has put Maine’s lakes at increased risk by cutting the state’s lake protection staff and resources, terminating education and technical assistance, purging the Department of Environmental Protection’s website of valuable public documents, disrupting the work of DEP technical experts, and failing to enforce a Maine law that helps protect lake water quality. Maine people have been prepared to do the tough work required to help monitor lake water quality, reduce sources of lake pollution, tackle new threats such as invasive species, enforce lake protection laws, and educate the public about their responsibilities to help protect our lakes. Maine has many lake champions, and NRCM is pleased to be recognizing two of them. Peter Lowell is a “rock star” in the world of lake protection. He’s been the Executive Director at the Lakes Environmental Association in Bridgton since 1972. In that role he has helped build one of the most impressive and high-performing lake associations in the entire Northeast. Peter has been the leading advocate in Maine calling for action and resources to address the threat of milfoil, but he is an expert across the full range of issues that affect Maine’s lakes. Peter Kallin also tops the list of passionate, knowledgeable, and reliable lake advocates. Peter spent five years as Executive Director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and now serves on that organization’s board of directors. He also serves as Board President of the Maine Lakes Society and is a volunteer invasive plant and water quality monitor for Maine’s Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program. Peter has devoted countless hours serving on various DEP stakeholder groups, and can be counted on to speak at news conferences or public hearings in support of strong lake protection policies.
Robert Godfrey of Eastport, 2014 People’s Choice Award, for his perseverance in protecting the beauty and heritage of Downeast Maine by leading the grassroots organization, Save Passamaquoddy Bay. Each year, as part of NRCM’s Conservation Leadership Awards, the organization gives its People’s Choice Award. This year, after narrowing the field to six finalists from 39 nominations from across the state, Robert Godfrey of Eastport received the most votes, for his work protecting Passamaquoddy Bay in Downeast Maine. This year marks Save Passamaquoddy Bay’s 10th anniversary. Bob has provided this grassroots organization with ongoing leadership and strategic guidance in an effort to keep liquefied natural gas (LNG) out of Passamaquoddy Bay. As one People’s Choice voter put it, “It has been an intellectual, soulful, physical, and financially demanding fight against a cadre of developers, more than a dozen of the nation’s largest law firms, and corporate giants.” To the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Bob is an example of the power of citizen activism, not only making his own voice heard but bringing together the rally cry of many. As Maine has seen many times before, this kind of community effort can make a big impression on decision makers. Bob Godfrey embodies the tenacity, perseverance, leadership, and unswerving devotion it takes to protect the beauty and heritage of Downeast Maine and Passamaquoddy Bay.
“Maine is so fortunate to have citizens like these who we are honoring this year with our Conservation Leadership Awards,” says Natural Resources Council of Maine Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “These people share a deep love of Maine and understand what is at stake. These awards are one way to demonstrate how much we appreciate all that they do to protect this beautiful state we all call home.”
The reception is free and open to the public, and will begin at 5:00 p.m. with live acoustic jazz, hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. The awards portion will begin at 6:00 p.m.
Special thanks to Maine magazine, media sponsor for this event.