For a lifetime of dedication, vision, and success, NRCM has awarded Carson, of Harpswell, a 2011 NRCM Environmental Award for Lifetime Achievement. For 27 years, Brownie Carson was not just the heart and soul of the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), he was the face of environmental advocacy in Maine. His extraordinary leadership was built on his ability to inspire, galvanize, and empower Maine citizens to take actions on issues that are important to them. (Read full citation at end of this page.)
The prestigious award was presented at NRCM’s annual meeting on Friday, September 23, at NRCM’s annual meeting in Portland. Environmental Awards are given each year by NRCM to individuals or groups whose actions have made a real difference at the local, regional, or state level in the protection of Maine’s environment.
“Brownie has been an ever-present force of nature, for nature; a constant reminder that Maine’s rivers and wilderness and the clean air, water, and wildlife for which our state is known and loved should not, must not be relegated to the profit and loss columns of polluters ,” says Lisa Pohlmann, who, after three years as NRCM’s deputy director, became executive director after Carson retired in January. “We cannot begin to thank him for all he has done to keep Maine such a special place. It is a joy and an honor to present him with NRCM’s Environmental Award for Lifetime Achievement.”
The list of Carson’s successes while NRCM’s executive director include many of the hardest-fought battles of our time—beating the Big A dam that would have blocked the West Branch of the Penobscot River, and a Bucksport coal plant that would have polluted Acadia’s air, pushing for sensible legislation for recycling beverage containers, for phasing out toxic chemicals in consumer products, for safe collection of electronic waste, for investing in energy efficiency improvements, and much more.
In 1999, Maine made national and international headlines when the 160-year-old Edwards Dam in Augusta was removed to restore a free-flowing Kennebec River. Its removal marked the first time the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that the ecological value of a free-flowing river was greater than the economic value of a dam, and ordered a dam removed. This followed 10 years of hard work and determination by Carson and others at NRCM, working with the kind of strong and diverse coalition Carson has become known for building. As a result, alewives, sturgeon, and other sea-run fish, along with Osprey, Bald Eagles, and other wildlife, now flourish in an additional 17 miles of free-flowing river and beyond.
Carson helped build NRCM into the largest, most effective nonprofit advocacy organization working to protect Maine’s environment, wildlife, and people, and one of the most effective state-based environmental advocacy groups in the nation.
This list suggests not only the longevity of Carson’s illustrious career and wide range of issues about which he has become extremely knowledgeable, but also reflects his exceptional ability to communicate easily and effectively about these issues. “His genuine warmth and caring nature, coupled with an uncompromising clarity on what needs to be done to protect Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife, earned him admirers from all walks of life and across party lines,” says Pohlmann.
Among Carson’s admirers is Senator George Mitchell, who was keynote speaker at NRCM annual meeting this year, where Brownie was presented with his award. He spoke of his long-time friendship with Brownie Carson and of his deep admiration for him. Senator Mitchell, who has his own long list of accolades, including the reauthorization of the Clean Air Act, helped celebrate Carson’s 20th anniversary with NRCM in 2004.
For his efforts, Carson has received numerous additional awards. In 2005, he received Bowdoin’s Common Good Award, which honors Bowdoin alumni who have “demonstrated an extraordinary, profound, and sustained commitment to the common good, in the interest and for the benefit of society.” That same year, Carson also received Down East magazine’s Environmental Award, for which the magazine described him as “an environmental leader of national stature,” and National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Achievement Award for exemplary leadership in protecting wildlife and natural resources.
Under Carson’s leadership, NRCM has also earned dozens more awards, including the 2008 Cooperative Conservation Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the 2007 Climate Protection Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Although retired from NRCM, Carson has continued his crusade for the environment, including marching in West Virginia this summer with hundreds of protesters working to protect Blair Mountain from the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is a nonprofit membership organization working statewide for clean air, healthy waters, safeguards for our people and wildlife, forest protections, and clean, renewable energy solutions. We harness the power of science, the law, and the voices of more than 12,000 supporters across Maine and beyond. www.nrcm.org.
2011 NRCM Environmental Award for Lifetime Achievement
For 27 years, Brownie Carson wasn’t just the heart and soul of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, he was the face of environmental advocacy in Maine.
The list of Brownie’s successes while NRCM’s executive director include many of the hardest and longest-fought battles of our time—beating the Big A dam and Bucksport coal plant, pushing for sensible legislation for recycling beverage containers, for phasing out toxics chemicals in consumer products, for safe collection of electronic waste, for investing in energy efficiency improvements, and so much more.
Such a list, however, is merely the end result, a simplified representation of Brownie’s biggest achievement: his ability to inspire, galvanize, and empower people from across our state to take action on issues that matter to them.
Brownie has been a seemingly ever-present force of nature, for nature, a constant reminder that Maine’s rivers and wilderness and the clean air, water, and wildlife for which our state is known and loved should not, must not be relegated to profit and loss columns of polluters who would—and have—pilfered and exploited these spectacular natural resources.
His decades with NRCM built this organization into the “go to” group that harnesses the power of Maine people who want their elected officials to vote for safeguards that protect our air and water, woods and wildlife, and to vote against legislation that would roll back environmental safeguards and forever destroy the Maine we know and love today.
Brownie, we cannot begin to thank you for all you have done to keep Maine such a special place. It is with great joy and honor that we present to you a 2011 NRCM Environmental Award for Lifetime Achievement.