A Maine nonprofit organization working to protect Maine’s land, air, water, and wildlife, has named its 2015 Conservation Leadership Award winners. The Natural Resources Council of Maine presents the awards each year to individuals or groups that have made an extraordinary contribution to the protection of Maine’s environment.

Award recipients were honored at a special event Oct. 14 at Maple Hill Farm Inn, in Hallowell.

“It is such a privilege and a pleasure to honor these Maine people with our 2015 Conservation Leadership Award,” said Natural Resources Council of Maine Executive Director Lisa Pohlmann. “Each of them is making a world of difference, starting right here in Maine.”

This year's recipients include Susan Davies of Liberty, winner of the 2015 Conservation Leadership Award for helping protect Maine from mining pollution.

The former Callahan mine in Brooksville closed 40 years ago, yet it continues to pollute local waters, according to a press release from The Natural Resources Council of Maine. Maine people have paid nearly $10 million for cleanup so far, and the biggest part of the cleanup effort has not yet begun. According to the press release, this is just one of countless mining disasters all over the world, yet the LePage Administration and Irving Corp. have pushed hard to weaken mining rules in Maine.

Three years ago, Canada- based Irving Corp. jump-started the process for a 600-acre open-pit mine at Bald Mountain in Aroostook County by introducing an after-deadline bill.

The legislation directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to come up with new rules for mining in Maine. When DEP brought the rules to the Legislature, Susan Davies was a key player in helping defeat them, according to the press release. This past legislative session, Irving Corp. and its allies made an attempt to weaken the rules. Again, Davies was there.

Before leaving under the LePage Administration, Davies was a biologist at DEP for nearly 30 years. In her career, she played a major role in the development and implementation of DEP’s aquatic life standards, which are an important way to measure whether pollution is having a dangerous impact in rivers and streams. Her credibility and expertise convinced key legislators that DEP’s rules were too weak and would have harmed Maine’s rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater.

“Susan provided crucial testimony at hearings and submitted written comments that were frequently cited in the testimony of others. She wrote op-eds and letters to the editor, and shared her knowledge directly with key legislators,” Pohlmann said. “Her involvement in this issue made a big difference in protecting Maine’s waters.”