Panel supports bill to honor late conservation champion Alan Hutchinson

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AUGUSTA – A legislative panel gave unanimous approval Tuesday to a measure that would name the Coast of Maine Wildlife Management Area in honor of late conservation champion and Orono resident Alan Hutchinson.

“It’s hard to find anyone who has done more for our forests and wildlife than Alan Hutchinson,” said Rep. Bob Duchesne, D-Hudson, the bill’s sponsor. “In recent years, it’s become the practice at the department to name Wildlife Management Areas after people who have made enormous contributions to wildlife in the state. It’s only fitting that the Coast of Maine Wildlife Management Area he helped create in the early ‘80s now be named for him.”

Hutchinson, who passed away unexpectedly in August 2017, was a longtime employee of the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife before becoming the first executive director of the Forest Society of Maine. Under his leadership, the organization became one of the nation’s largest land trusts.

Hutchinson led the establishment of the Coast of Maine Wildlife Management Area while leading the Marine Wildlife Study at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Several statewide conservation groups spoke about Hutchinson’s legacy at the hearing.

“Alan was passionate about his work and his relationships,” testified Eliza Donoghue of Maine Audubon. “Alan was even tempered, unpretentious, listened well, spoke with knowledge and authority when he needed to, brought the ideas of wildlife conservation to a larger group of stakeholders, and always considered alternative points of view before making any final decision.”

“LD 1759 is a fitting tribute for one of Maine’s great conservation leaders and one of its great champions for the protection of coastal habitats,” Tom Abello of The Nature Conservancy told members of the committee.

Duchesne is serving his sixth term in the Maine House and represents Alton, Argyle, Corinth, Hudson and Milford. He is House chair of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee and a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.