NRCM News Release
Augusta, ME – Maine’s leading nonprofit membership organization working to protect Maine’s land, air, water, and wildlife, has named its 2015 Conservation Leadership Award winners. The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) presents the awards each year to individuals or groups that have made an extraordinary contribution to the protection of Maine’s environment.
Award recipients will be honored at a special event Wednesday, October 14 from 5-7:00 p.m., at Maple Hill Farm Inn, in Hallowell. “It is such a privilege and a pleasure to honor these Maine people with our 2015 Conservation Leadership Award,” says Natural Resources Council of Maine Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “Each of them is making a world of difference, starting right here in Maine.”
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.
This year’s recipients are (see more details below):
- Bob Cummings, Phippsburg, 2015 Conservation Award for Lifetime Achievement For his extraordinary contributions to the conservation of Maine lands
- Susan Davies, Liberty, 2015 Conservation Leadership Award For helping protect Maine from mining pollution
- Phil Coupe, Portland, and Fortunat Mueller, Portland, 2015 Conservation Leadership Award For their vision and leadership in moving Maine toward a clean energy future
- Bonnie Pooley, Bethel, 2015 People’s Choice Award For her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment
Bob Cummings of Phippsburg, 2015 Conservation Leadership Award, Lifetime Achievement For his extraordinary contributions to the conservation of Maine lands
Chances are you recognize the names of some of Maine’s most treasured places: Tumbledown. Cutler’s “Bold Coast.” Bigelow Preserve. The Kennebec Highlands. But what many people don’t know is that these gems are part of our state’s Public Reserved Lands system that encompasses more than 600,000 acres that make up 37 different parcels in the North Woods, Down East, and elsewhere across the state. For more than a century, these lands, as we know them today, were unknown.
They were reclaimed starting in the 1970s thanks to Bob Cummings, then the environmental reporter with the Portland Press Herald who discovered that “reserved public lands” had been “reserved” to the people of Maine when our state separated from Massachusetts in 1820. His outstanding series of articles described how these lands had been subsumed into those of large land owners, including paper companies, and managed by them as though they owned them.
Bob’s work led to the recovery of these lands and to the spectacular Public Reserved Lands system Maine people enjoy today. Bob also reported on the proposed oil refinery in Eastport, the establishment of the Land Use Regulation Commission (now the Land Use Planning Commission), and Maine’s Clean Water Act. After his retirement, Bob hiked the entire Appalachian Trail and has helped maintain the trails he has enjoyed so much.
His testimony on a range of issues has resonated through the halls of the State House and hearing rooms across the state. Such testimony included his opposition to Plum Creek’s massive development proposed for the Moosehead region in 2005, and his support for the Land for Maine’s Future program. He further demonstrated his passion for Maine’s environment by founding and serving as president of the Phippsburg Land Trust, and as executive director of the Maine Association of Conservation Commissions.
“Bob Cummings is the consummate conservationist, and the people of Maine have been the beneficiaries for decades and will continue to be for generations to come,” says NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann.
Phil Coupe, Portland, and Fortunat Mueller, Portland, 2015 Conservation Leadership Award For their person vision and leadership in moving Maine toward a clean energy future
Climate change has been called the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Maine is already dealing with its effects: deer tick populations are expanding rapidly, increasing the risk of Lyme disease and causing problems for our iconic moose. Commercial fishermen are increasingly concerned about species shifting in the Gulf of Maine. With global warming comes sea-level rise that puts our coastal communities and wildlife habitat on the line. Our ski industry and other areas of our nature-based economy have much to lose unless we change our energy course, and soon.
Phil Coupe and Fortunate Mueller have made it their mission to set Maine on a course for a clean energy future. Phil is a solar power and electric vehicle crusader who over the last several years has spoken at countless press events, served on panels, and provided testimony at hearings. He speaks fluently on topics ranging from how Mainers can save money on energy and benefit from clean energy jobs to the current climate crisis—but brings to it his positive vision for a sustainable economy. Fortunat Mueller’s substantial policy and clean energy business expertise has positioned him as a leader in legislative and Public Utilities Commission solar policy. He is a trusted go-to guy for information about solar business models, regulation, and policy—all the more so for his welcoming approach.
Together, these two have engaged thousands of homeowners who have gone solar and want to make the call for solar change much louder. “For Phil Coupe and Fortunat Mueller, the effort to move Maine forward on clean energy goes far beyond their business. It’s their vision for the planet, and we are grateful to have such knowledgeable and passionate clean energy experts working to address climate issues here in Maine,” says Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM’s executive director.
Susan Davies, Liberty, 2015 Conservation Leadership Award For helping protect Maine from mining pollution
The former Callahan mine in Brooksville closed 40 years ago, yet it continues to pollute local waters. Maine people have paid nearly $10 million for cleanup so far, and the biggest part of the cleanup effort has not yet begun. This is just one of countless mining disasters all over the world, yet the LePage Administration and JD Irving have pushed hard for weak mining rules in Maine.
Three years ago, Canada- based Irving Corporation jumpstarted the process for a 600-acre open-pit mine at Bald Mountain in Aroostook County by introducing an after-deadline bill.
The legislation directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to come up with new, weak rules for mining in Maine. When DEP brought the weak rules to the Legislature, Susan Davies was a key player in helping defeat them. This past legislative session, JD Irving and its allies made another attempt to weaken the rules. Again, Susan was there.
Before leaving under the LePage Administration, Susan was a biologist at DEP for nearly 30 years. In her career, she played a major role in the development and implementation of DEP’s aquatic life standards, which are an important way to measure whether pollution is having a dangerous impact in rivers and streams. Susan’s credibility and expertise convinced key legislators that DEP’s rules were too weak and would have harmed Maine’s rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater.
“Susan provided crucial testimony at hearings and submitted written comments that were frequently cited in the testimony of others. She wrote op-eds and letters to the editor, and shared her knowledge directly with key legislators,” says NRCM Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “Her involvement in this issue made a big difference in protecting Maine’s waters.”
Bonnie Pooley, Bethel, 2015 People’s Choice Award For her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment
Each year, as part of NRCM’s Conservation Leadership Awards, the organization presents its People’s Choice Award. This year, after narrowing the field to five finalists from 34 nominations from across the state, the winner of the 2015 People’s Choice Award is Bonnie Pooley of Bethel, for her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment. Bonnie has shown how one person can make a significant contribution toward protecting Maine’s environment for future generations.
During her 35-year teaching career, Bonnie helped students at Gould Academy understand that responsibility for the environment starts close to home. Bonnie’s work includes Earth Day celebrations and the Gould Goes Green student organization. She helped establish a student-run recycling program resulting in a comprehensive recycling system at the school. In addition to her work with students, Bonnie is a board member of the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway, and she works with local food initiatives. She is also a founding and long-serving member of the Bethel Conservation Commission, the advisory body for the protection, development, and use of natural resources in the town. For 25 years Bonnie has served on the Mahoosuc Land Trust Board, including as president.
“Amazingly, there is much more that Bonnie has done to keep Maine a special place,” says Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM’s executive director. “She has touched many lives, including those of students, and her contributions will make a difference for future generations.”