Two legislators recognized for their good work for conservation

The Nature Conservancy’s Corporate Conservation Council of Maine recognized two legislators for their conservation work at a recent event. The 57 members of the Council donated $341,658 this year to support TNC’s important conservation work in our state. And for the first time, the Council decided to give legislative awards.

Although I was asked to speak at the event, I had something else scheduled that night and was unable to join them. But I want to share the awards information with you, especially because my Senator and friend, Tom Saviello, got one of the awards.

Here’s what TNC’s Tom Abello told me about the awards.

House Speaker Sara Gideon

We recognized the Speaker for her leadership on a handful of conservation initiatives. First and foremost, she worked hard to include funding in the Transportation Bond (Question 3 on the ballot) for municipal culvert replacements and upgrades. This program builds off a 2014 bond and provides towns and cities funding to address undersized culvert to benefit public road safety and enhance fish passage. The 2014 bond supported 72 projects from Kittery to Fort Kent.

Secondly, she also pushed back on the Administration’s continued efforts to gut the Tree Growth tax program, one of Maine’s most important initiatives. It helps keep forests and forest and has a direct economic benefit by providing incentives for landowners big and small to manage forests sustainably. After being rejected by the Legislature, there were efforts to include revisions to the program as part of the budget compromise. The Speaker opposed that.

Senator Tom Saviello

Senator Saviello has been a long-time conservation champion and friend to the Conservancy. As Chair of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee and as a member of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee, Senator Saviello has been a driving force behind nearly every natural resource issue at the Legislature.

This past session he led the effort to ensure Maine’s mining rules are the toughest in the Country. No small accomplishment. He was heavily involved in developing a strong state solar policy, helped protect our natural resource agency budgets and staffing levels and led the effort to improve the management of the state’s Public Reserved Lands by requiring more public participation and increased emphasis of recreational access.

I want to send my congratulations to Senator Saviello and Speaker Gideon, and thank them for their dedication to conservation and the things that make our state special.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.