Alan Hutchinson, ‘champion’ of land conservation in Maine, dies at age 70

Alan Hutchinson’s name may not be familiar to many Mainers.

Yet the names of the places that Hutchinson quietly helped to protect – such as the West Branch of the Penobscot River, Big Spencer Mountain and the northern shorelines of Moosehead Lake – will be known to generations of people who hike, hunt, fish, paddle or work in the vast forestlands of Maine.

A “champion” of land conservation, Hutchinson died unexpectedly Sunday at his home in Orono. He was 70.

During his 20 years as executive director of the Forest Society of Maine, Hutchinson played a major role in conserving more than 1 million acres in Maine at a time when the state’s timber industry, land ownership and outdoor recreation trends were changing dramatically. He also built the Bangor-based Forest Society of Maine from a small nonprofit into one of the nation’s largest land trusts.

“He was incredibly effective, a very, very gracious man and a gentleman at every turn,” said Tim Glidden, who worked with Hutchinson for several decades, first as director of the Land for Maine’s Future program and more recently as executive director of Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Glidden said Hutchinson never sought credit for his work, but his efforts to balance the importance of maintaining Maine’s working forests with the desire to protect those lands from development yielded long-lasting benefits to the state.

“His tribute is going to be the working forestlands of Maine,” Glidden said.

‘HE JUST LOVED THE NORTH WOODS’

Hutchinson was an avid outdoorsman who worked for 24 years as a wildlife biologist at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife before becoming the Forest Society of Maine’s first executive director in 1997. In his new capacity at the young organization, he pioneered the use of “conservation easements” that allowed landowners to retain title and usage of the land while protecting its ecological and recreational values. And over the years, Hutchinson…

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