By Tom Ward, 30 Mile Board Member
George A. Smith (1948-2021) loved the 30 Mile River Watershed. It’s true that George loved all of “the great state of Maine”, as he would often say it. He loved the North Woods, Lubec, Campobello Island (even if it’s in New Brunswick), the Big Bend of Texas, Patagonia in Arizona. The truth is, there weren’t too many places George couldn’t bring himself to like.
But George and his wife Linda lived for 42 years in the 30 Mile River Watershed. It gained a special place in his heart, as it does for so many of us. George especially loved the waters around his brick Cape home: Minnehonk Lake, Hopkins Pond, and Hopkins Stream. He could tell stories about them for hours and he did.
George liked to remind folks about the brickworks, which used to operate next to Hopkins Stream where you can still find bricks scattered about; the nearby cultivated cranberry plantations which produce wild cranberries now; and the Wabanaki woman who used to camp by the stream in summertime and who might have been the last of the Kennebec tribe.
But George was much more than a talker. He was a doer. George took action when it was necessary and prompted others to do the same. After he helped Jane Naliboff rescue a lead-poisoned loon drifting on Minnehonk Lake, George began to advocate for the ban of sales of lead sinkers and jigs and he became a spokesperson for the “Maine Fish Lead-Free” campaign.
George was also active in trying to protect vernal pools and wetlands. He worked to get objectives for their protection into the Comprehensive Plan for the Town of Mount Vernon, adopted in 2019. And he put his money where his mouth was, donating what is now the Ezra Smith Wildlife Conservation Area between Route 41 and Hopkins Stream.
But for many of us, George was much more than a protector of this place. He was a mentor. He helped us navigate the shoals and eddies of state and town politics, merging environmental advocacy with respect for the hunting and fishing traditions of rural communities. George loved the great outdoors and, as he would say, “its critters”. He also loved the people of Maine. And so many of us loved him.
He will be greatly missed.
George died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on Friday, February 12, 2021. Read his obituary, here.
Photo credit: Portland Press Herald, February 13, 2021