Conservation pioneer John Kauffmann dies at 91



John Kauffmann

John Kauffmann

MOUNT DESERT — Longtime Somesville resident John Kauffman, who was one of the country’s conservation pioneers, died peacefully at his home in Yarmouth on Nov. 16. He was 91.

Kauffman was born in Champaign IL, but grew up in Washington D.C., and Stark, NH.

After a career in the diplomatic service he worked as a reporter at the Washington Star newspaper where his family was part owner. He later worked as a National Park Service planner assisting in the establishment of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and the Cape Cod National Seashore.

In 1972 he was assigned to Alaska and helped study which areas of that state would become national parks, monuments and preserves. His efforts helped preserve more than 100 million acres.

In his book “Coming into the Country,” author John McPhee, who credits Kauffmann with inspiring many of his works, recounts accompanying Kauffmann on one of his field explorations in Alaska. McPhee writes, obviously tongue in cheek that any bear that would bite Kauffmann, would be “most unlikely to complete the meal.”

Kauffmann was also intimately involved in numerous land conservation projects on Mount Desert Island.

In addition, he found time to write two books, “Flow East: A Look at our North Atlantic Rivers,” and “Alaska’s Brooks Range: The Ultimate Mountains.”

He also for a time owned the Bar Harbor Times with Bill Patten and the late Richard Saltonstall.

Kauffmann served on a number of conservation-related boards including Friends of Acadia, the Wilderness Society, and the National Parks and Conservation Association.