In July 2014, Sherry Huber, former executive director of the Maine TREE Foundation, spoke to teachers about the forest products industry. Credit: Nell Gluckman / BDN

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Karin R. Tilberg is the president/CEO of the Forest Society of Maine.

Extending for nearly 12 million acres, Maine’s North Woods are unique. They are recognized for their global significance to wildlife, as the watersheds for seven of Maine’s 10 major river systems, and for their ability to sequester large amounts of carbon. These forestlands also serve as a source of employment for those in forest products and outdoor recreation businesses and provide solace and rejuvenation to all who enjoy them.

In the past three months Maine has lost several individuals who were personally connected to and advocated for these forestlands – Marylee Dodge, Sherry Huber, Ed Kfoury and John McNulty. Each had their own interests with the trees, wildlife habitats, mountains and lakes that define Maine’s forested landscapes. All were articulate, incredibly effective, and dedicated ambassadors for keeping Maine’s forests intact.

Marylee Dodge brought uncountable hours of volunteering to further environmental conservation and including historic importance of forestlands. She served on the boards of several land trusts, including Forest Society of Maine and Coastal Mountains Land Trust, and touted the importance of many projects throughout Maine. She also encouraged people to enjoy the great outdoors through her own fishing and hunting adventures.

Sherry Huber, through her involvement with the Land Trust Alliance and various Maine conservation groups including Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and Forest Society of Maine, advocated for tools and strategies to conserve forestlands. She was an early and passionate advocate for conservation easements. Her support for easements helped bring credibility to their use for large tracts of forestland. During her 25 years as the head of the Maine Timber Research and Environmental Education Foundation, Sherry brought teachers to the woods to learn about forest management firsthand and helped to instill an awareness of and appreciation for the state’s working forests not only with these teachers, but with the many young children they taught.

Ed Kfoury was a devoted advocate for the western Maine forests and especially the Rangeley Lakes Region. Its beauty and wildness were a defining inspiration to him, and he led in the creation of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. This organization is a powerful example of how one person’s passion can make a difference for many. He worked to ensure that future generations could appreciate and enjoy the remote landscapes of the region he loved. He brought his dedication to the environment to service on the boards of The Nature Conservancy and Forest Society of Maine, where his experience and strategic thinking helped bring additional conservation to Maine’s forests.

John McNulty began working with Seven Islands Land Company as a field forester shortly after graduating from college. He was devoted to his profession and to Seven Islands, spending 41 years there before retiring as president and CEO. He brought a dedication to responsible forest management to his work, was a trailblazer for forest certification to demonstrate sound practices, and was a leader in the Society of American Foresters. He also viewed conservation easements as a vital tool in helping keep Maine’s forests intact. He brought his support for easements as an effective conservation tool to his involvement on the Forest Society of Maine board of directors. He was a champion of the values of well-managed forests and for the critical role of stewardship and conservation of them.

As we enjoy the out-of-doors this summer, let’s pause to appreciate the woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, wildlife and jobs that Maine’s forests support, and reflect on Marylee, Sherry, Ed and John, whose efforts are continuing to help ensure Maine’s forests will remain as such for many more generations to come.