Once a year, the Maine environmental community celebrates conservation victories at An Evening for the Environment, a fundraiser for Maine Conservation Alliance and Maine Conservation Voters.

The 15th annual event was held at Thompson’s Point on Oct. 26, with nationally recognized clean energy expert Brian Deese as the keynote speaker.

“It’s the Maine environment,” said Will Everitt, a Maine Conservation Alliance board member. “What do we have going for us? We have our woods, our waters, clear air.”

“This is a real ‘who’s who,’ as a citizen who is involved in environmental issues,” said Doug Welch, executive director of Maine Island Trail Association.

“We have legislators from both sides, Republican and Democrat,” said advocacy coordinator Stephanie Miles of Maine Conservation Alliance. “We have Republican legislators that are environmental champions. It’s a nonpartisan issue. That fact that we have 400 people show up shows that the environment is important to Maine voters.”

A highlight of the evening was when sportsman, environmentalist and writer George Smith was presented with the Harrison L. Richardson Environmental Leadership Award.

“Through his writing and his advocacy, he has dedicated his life to protect Maine wildlife and land,” said Rani Sheaffer, development director of Maine Conservation Voters.

“People who hunt and fish are environmentalists. I’m very pleased to get this award, because it recognizes that,” said Smith, who lives in Mount Vernon. “We’re all on the planet together, and the natural environment sustains us. There’s nothing to fight about.”

Smith was executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine for 18 years, overlapping with his 30-year career as a columnist for Maine Sportsman’s Magazine and for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, writing about hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities and current events. Islandport Press published a collection of Smith’s columns, called “A Life Lived Outdoors,” in 2014.

The evening concluded with the keynote speech by Deese, who served as senior advisor to President Barack Obama on energy, climate and conservation strategies.

“I think that, more than any time in history, we have extraordinary reason for optimism,” Deese said. The primary reason, he explained, is that the markets are on the side of conservation: In many places and industries around the world, clean energy is no longer the more expensive choice.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]

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