7 Lakes Alliance awarded Maggie Shannon with the Eddie Mayer Award in December of 2018 for her dedication to saving Maine’s lakes for future generations. When invasive milfoil was discovered in Messalonskee lake, Maggie worked tirelessly to help the BLA organize the fight against this threat to her lake. She organized and trained teams of volunteers to act as courtesy boat inspectors (CBI) and worked with other conservation organizations to lobby the legislature to protect Maine lakes from invasive plants. In 2001, after impassioned testimony from “Milfoil Maggie,” the legislature passed Maine’s Milfoil law by a single vote. This law, subsequently replicated in numerous other states, provides dedicated funding for invasive plant education, prevention, and mitigation.
Recognizing the power of groups working together to achieve common goals, while still serving as President of BLA, Maggie joined the board of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) - now 7 Lakes Alliance and helped form the BRCA Lake Trust, a strategic alliance of the five lake associations in the 7-lake, Belgrade Lakes Watershed that coordinates watershed-wide programs.
Not content with protecting just seven lakes, in 2003 Maggie became the Executive Director of the Maine Congress of Lake Associations (MCOLA), while continuing to serve on the boards of both BLA and BRCA. MCOLA was a statewide organization dedicated to protecting Maine Lakes through science, education, and policy. Often working overtime in this part-time position, she turned MCOLA into a major player in the state’s environmental policy community and was responsible for numerous legislative victories that benefit Maine lakes, including the 2007 ordinance that severely restricts the use of phosphorus fertilizers. For this she was recognized by the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) in 2007 with the “People’s Choice Award” for “extraordinary service for Maine's environment.”
Maggie has influenced every piece of legislation that affects Maine lakes in the past fifteen years. Additionally, she spearheaded a pilot program to expand Maine DEP’s LakeSmart program using specially trained and certified citizen volunteers that has been wildly successful. This has enabled this nationally recognized environmental social marketing program to become sustainable and get more people to “live lightly on the land for the sake of the lakes.” In 2012, she was recognized nationally as a Purpose Prize Fellow for her contributions to helping to protect Maine’s Lakes.
She was deeply involved in the consolidation of the MLRC with BRCA that has resulted in the 7-Lakes Alliance. She has continued to chair the Lake Trust, which comprises the watershed side of the new organization and continued to lead the Maine Lakes Society, including advocating at the Federal level for restoration of funding for the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). She was recently recognized by USEPA Region 1 with a 2018 Environmental Merit Award for her commitment to environmental issues in her community.
In summary, Maggie has been at the center of virtually every conservation organization in our community and every significant effort to protect water quality, not just in the Belgrade region, but statewide for over twenty years. She is dedicated to saving Maine's lakes for future generations, tirelessly lobbying for strong environmental regulations and learning how to get people to change their behavior to improve water quality. Her dedication is truly inspirational and she is well deserving of the Eddie Mayer Conservation Award.