As lifelong conservationist Bill Townsend of Canaan put it, if the Natural Resources Council of Maine did not exist, the state of Maine would look very different.
Townsend was one of the original members of the organization, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this week.
He and other pioneers in the environmental organization (which certainly wasn’t called that 50 years ago) worked to stop a scourge of billboards from littering the Maine landscape, pass a landmark bottle-return bill, derail state plans for construction of dams on major rivers, clean up Maine’s air and water and conserve the landscape that distinguishes our state.
The battles were often long and often bitter. They left scars, certainly, but they also left the state a better place.
We have huge parcels of undisturbed forest in Maine because of the NRCM, as well as long stretches of coastline that have been conserved. Our highways are lined with trees, not enormous commercial signs, and fish swim in rivers that for too long were filled only with sewage and industrial pollutants.
The organization spawned the development of many other conservation groups with which, ironically, it must now often compete for support and funds.
So on its 50th birthday, we congratulate the NRCM giving a loud and clear voice to an environmental ethic that has had an important, and visible, impact on the state of Maine