2017 Abby Holman Award goes to Barry Burgason

“This award is the Abby Holman Public Service Award,” said Peter Triandafillou of Huber Resources, “and I just want to take a moment to talk about why it’s called that. For those of you who don’t know, Abby Holman was a great executive director of this organization and a good friend who was taken from us too early and one of the most fearsome and tenacious defenders of our industry and our rights as private property and land owners in general.

“In fact, this one sentence about her in the dedication of this award to her says it all to me: “Her love of Maine and our natural resources showed in her work, and it was here that Abby built a reputation as being Maine’s most fierce defender of traditional natural resource industries.”

“So this award goes to folks who have contributed in a public way, as part of our industry or not,  to the industry as a whole.

“Here’s a very brief synopsis of Barry Burgason’s accomplishments and then I’ll tell you why I think he deserves this award:

  • BS from Cornell and MS from UMaine 1974 and 1977, both in Wildlife Biology
  • Biologist for the State of Maine from 1977-1995
  • Biologist for Huber Resources from 1995-2017
  • Published, with contributions to A Forester’s Guide to Managing Wildlife Habitats in Maine and Biodiversity in the Forests of Maine: Guidelines for Land Management
  • Chair of the MFPC Wildlife Committee from 2000-2017
  • Longtime member of the Sportsman’s Forest Landowner Alliance, SFI SIC and NMW Administrative Committee
  • Involved with Project Learning Tree and Teacher Tours for 20 years
  • Represented our industry at countless public hearings and working groups with LURC, LUPC and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW).

“Barry has served the industry as a whole on multiple public committees within IFW and other state agencies. He’s a trusted and respected voice for those kinds of issues.

“He’s a longtime volunteer for Boy Scouts High Adventure and introduced forestry to their curriculum and program.

“He’s represented the industry at countless legislative hearings and was always a voice of reason and facts. That’s one of the two reasons why I think that Barry deserves this award.  

“Better than most, Barry understands the beneficial relationship between working forests, active forestry and wildlife habitat management. In addition, Barry can explain that relationship to the public better than anyone else I know. He is known for not only defending our industry, but for saying the right thing in an understandable way. This ability put Barry in front of many legislative hearings and part of many regulatory working groups.

“Because of his integrity and knowledge, Barry is universally respected and liked; not just in our industry, but also by state agencies, conservation groups, and the legislature.

“Barry is also a naturally friendly person, and it is rare to see him without at smile. His good humor and respect for others often helped make contentious meetings go better.

“It’s been my great pleasure for more than 20 years now to call Barry not just a colleague and co-worker, but also a friend.

This award is “in recognition of his leadership and dedication to wildlife habitat management and his strong support for public education, as well as cooperation between sportsmen and landowners.” So it is my great honor on the behalf of the Maine Forest Products Council, to give Barry Burgason the Abby Homan Public Service Award for 2017.

Barry Burgason replied: “I always remember when my mom and dad moved into a retirement home that my mom made it very clear she did’t want anything that hangs on a wall or collects dust I think the exception was anything having to do with grandchildren. But I’m going to make an exception. I really appreciate this award. It means a lot to me.

“Every time I see the portrait of Abby Holman in the Council office, you just have to sort of think, what could she have accomplished for the public of Maine if she had stayed around? It was just a tragedy that we lost her so early. So this means a lot.

“I started my career here. I came to Maine for a master’s degree at the university and I studied clear cuts in the Greenville area. That was back in the 1970s and clear cuts weren’t quite as controversial as the got to be in the 1990s, but it was a heckuva education for me. That really set the stage for my philosophy. As Peter said,  – forestry and wildlife are really very complementary professions.

Carolyn and Barry Burgason

“I know at college and since there are people on both sides and in both professions who don’t think that’s true, but I’ll argue with anybody – and I’m staying after tonight if anybody wants to argue.

“So that’s been my philosophy, that’s what I’ve been trying to sell to people in any of the presentations that I’ve done. I’ve never thought of myself as a great leader, but I sort of take a cue from the people around me. So I want to thank Peter, John Ford, my boss before him, and all the Huber staff of foresters that I’ve worked with over the years.

“I want to thank Patrick, Pat, Sue and Roberta at the Council. They’ve been great to work with on the lynx issues, the CLUP issues and everything else. 

“I want to thank my wife for taking  care of our two girls. She paid attention to the fine details that maybe I would have glossed over. And I’m happy to say they both turned out pretty well.

“Thank you all who have worked so hard for this industry and thank you for being both my motivation and my inspiration. Thank you very much.”