A man who helped engineer some of the largest public land conservation deals in state history has died.
Alan Hutchinson, 70, died at his Orono home on Sunday, according to an official at Brookings-Smith Funeral Home of Bangor.
As the first executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, Hutchinson for about 20 years helped conserve close to 1 million acres of the North Maine Woods, said the society’s acting executive director, Karin Tilberg.
In doing so, he helped facilitate the transition of land ownership in the north woods from paper-company domination to the more individualistic, conservationist crop of landowners today, she said.
“Alan’s devotion to doing it in a way that was practical and in harmony with Maine values was really admirable,” Tilberg said. “His death is an enormous loss to Maine.”
Hutchinson helped conserve 22,260 acres around Nicatous and West lakes in Hancock County in 1998. Four years later, he was instrumental in conserving 4,200 acres of Big Spencer Mountain and an additional 6 miles of shorefront at the northern end of Moosehead Lake in 2002 — as well as the land around the North Branch of the Penobscot River, Penobscot Lake and 47,000 acres north of Moosehead Lake along the headwaters of the St. John River.
Later projects included 2,738 acres of forests, wetlands and lakeshores in the Bangor-Alton area in 2011, and the 32,000-acre Reed Forest in Aroostook County last year.
“He worked hard to bring together landowners and conservationists,” said Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council. “He had a great reputation and he was very passionate about land conservation.”
“He was a diplomat in the way he did his business,” Strauch added. “You could tell he was very dedicated to it.”
His leadership played a great part in the Society becoming one of the nation’s top five largest land trusts, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement.
“Alan’s invaluable contributions to the forestry community will be deeply missed, but he will long be remembered for his leadership and vision,” Collins said.
His integrity was a crucial part of his work, said Peter Triandafillou, vice president at Huber Industries and a treasurer of the Forest Society’s board of directors.
“Alan was one of those general all around good eggs. Everybody trusted him and liked him. That made him very good at what he did,” Triandafillou said.
Before taking the job at the Forest Society of Maine, Hutchinson worked as a wildlife biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for 24 years.