Tribal environmentalist who helped restore Penobscot River receives Lifetime Achievement Award


John Banks of Orono, the outgoing director of the Penobscot Indian Nation’s Department of Natural Resources, was among four honored Tuesday by the Natural Resources Council of Maine with their 2021 Conservation Leadership Awards.

Banks received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his many contributions to the protection of natural resources representing the Penobscot Nation. His areas of expertise are the restoration of water quality, fishing and the links between man and nature.

The board also honored University of Maine professor Ivan Fernandez d’Orono, small business owner Laura Marston of South Portland and Sam Saltonstall of Brunswick.

“The environmental leaders honored this year give me great hope for the future of Maine’s environment,” said Lisa Pohlmann, CEO of the Maine Natural Resources Council.

“We will need the energy, enthusiasm and strong moral conviction of leaders like this if we are to take the bold steps necessary to avert a climate crisis and protect the woods, waters and wildlife that make Maine so special, ”she said. .

“These Mainers have identified environmental challenges in their communities and beyond and have gone to great lengths to address these challenges by using the power of science and by leading by example to rally others to their cause.”

Nick Bennett, scientific staff member and director of the Clean Waters Project at NRCM, praised Banks for his many contributions to conservation efforts.

They included his work against mines, using Maine as a dumping ground for out-of-state waste and pollution from the paper industry. He also fought to improve the water quality standards of the Penobscot River, restore Atlantic salmon and other anadromous fish, remove dams and improve fish passage on the Penobscot River and against the Central Maine Power Corridor.

“You were the key to the success of the Penobscot project. Your patience and knowledge has guided the rest of us through a decade and a half of really high ups and downs, too, ”Bennett said.

In his acceptance speech, Banks explained how the experience of working on improvements in key areas of natural resources touched him deeply.

“I remember the 15 or 20 years of working on the Penobscot River Restoration Project, how great it was to work with so many people who share a vision for the future of what can happen, what that can be done while people are collaborating and working together and working on their common good, ”Banks said.

“Just having the pleasure of meeting so many people and working with so many dedicated people really gave me a sense of hope and confidence for the future, that everything will be fine,” he said. he declares.

Fernandez received a Conservation Leadership Award for his leadership as one of Maine’s top climatologists and for providing cutting edge information on our climate issues.

Marston received a Conservation Leadership Award for championing and pioneering new ways to reduce waste and encourage reuse in his business, in his community, and across Maine.

Saltonstall has received the 2021 People’s Choice Award for almost 20 years, advocating for energy efficiency, renewables and ways to mitigate climate change.

The Maine Natural Resources Council Conservation Leadership Awards have honored Maine residents who work to protect natural resources for more than 30 years. Previous recipients include Senator George Mitchell, natural history author Phyllis Austin, former director of Baxter Buzz Caverly National Park and Olympic champion and clean air activist Joan Benoit Samuelson.


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