Bob Cummings, of Phippsburg, is being honored with the 2015 Conservation Award for Lifetime Achievement for his contributions to the conservation of Maine lands by the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

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.

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