UNITY — Breaux Higgins of Bar Harbor has won the 2016 Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award, a youth-oriented award created to recognize young people and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements, from Maine Woods Forever.
The award recognizes what Maine’s youth are doing to appreciate and conserve our forest heritage. It also encourages them to become future conservation leaders.
“The Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award honors today’s young people and the legacy of America’s most celebrated conservationist, President Theodore Roosevelt,” said John Rust, chairman of the award committee. “Many credit his rugged sojourns in Maine during the late 1800s with shaping his determination to conserve our natural world. This year’s awardees have clearly lived up to this ethic.”
Higgins, an Eagle Scout, was presented an award for an individual youth who has shown outstanding dedication, leadership and strong and steady growth in exhibiting Maine’s conservation ethic. One of his notable projects was to restore Bates Cairns at Acadia National Park and increase the public’s awareness of their use and significance.
Bates Cairns are stone trail markers. They suffer from significant chronic vandalism because hikers may not fully understand their meaning. Park visitors add or remove rocks from the cairns, build new ones pointing in different directions and even destroy them completely. This behavior is a safety issue because it leads hikers astray, a natural resource issue because rocks are taken from already thin mountain soil, and an aesthetic issue as these man-made objects clutter the beautiful natural landscape.
Breaux partnered with the U.S. National Park Service staff at Acadia for his Eagle Scout Service Project to offer a multidimensional service project to optimize promotion of preservation and safety. Breaux developed a program to educate the public by raising awareness of the meaning of the Bates Cairns in Acadia, and combined the simple message of the cairns with principles of leave-no-trace outdoor ethics. His message reached a substantial number of visitors and, more importantly, created a program that can be sustained by park and volunteer staff.
Maine Woods Forever is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating and protecting the legacy of Maine’s forests and woodlands. Maine Woods Forever was founded in 2004 to foster collaborations between the many people and organizations devoted to conserving our forests and woodlands for today and future generations. Visit www.mainewoodsforever.org and www.thoreauwabanakitrail.org.