Alumni Focus - 2012 Distinguished Alumnus
Albro F. Cowperthwaite Jr. received a B.S. in Parks Management from the University of Maine in 1976. He began his career working in the North Maine Woods as an undergraduate student participating in a Park Design and Landscaping project at Johnson Pond near Allagash Lake within the North Maine Woods (NMW) region. Upon graduation, he was hired by NMW Inc., a non-profit organization, to conduct an inventory of camping locations within NMW. He did this work in conjunction with Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission staff, which was also in the process of obtaining development information for Maine’s unorganized townships. This experience included meeting landowner representatives, game wardens, forest rangers, park rangers and others to map and document details for logging camps, private camps, campsites, gravel pits and roads using a LURC system. In 1977 he was promoted to Field Manager for NMW Inc. and took on the responsibility for all field operations, including maintenance and development of 300 campsites and 15 checkpoints.
In 1982 Al was hired as Executive Director of the NMW Inc., a position he still holds today. Over the next 30 years NMW Inc. became highly regarded for its ability to provide benefits to both landowners and the outdoor recreation industry. A diverse array of outdoor recreation opportunities exist for the benefit of the public yet importantly were managed to be compatible with other landowner management objectives such as timber production as well as conservation initiatives. Under Al’s leadership the NMW Inc. has grown to assist more diverse landowners and expanding area from 2.5 million acres to nearly 4 million acres. The last major expansion included six large forest landowners requesting NMW Inc. to provide similar services for a tract of 220,000 acres located between Millinocket, Greenville and Brownville. This request was fulfilled with checkpoints installed and 70 locations chosen as campsites in the KI JO-Mary Forest.
Throughout his career, Al has been recognized as a leader and visionary for his pioneering efforts to bridge the interests of private and public land managers with different outdoor recreation entities. Al is a founding member of the Sportsman’s/Forest Landowner Alliance in 1992 and served as the chair in 1993. One of the first projects of this group was working with lawmakers to strengthen Maine’s Landowner Liability Law Statute to provide the best landowner protection in the country with the goal of keeping all Maine lands open for public use. The Maine Professional Guides Association made him an Honorary Lifetime Member in 1994. Al has served on a variety of committees including Maine’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) Steering Committee, Allagash Wilderness Waterway Advisory Committee, Maine Tourism Advisory Committee, and Governor’s Council to review Maine Guiding laws. Al has also made other substantial volunteer commitments to worthy efforts including being a member of the Maine High Adventure/Boy Scouts of America Board of Governors since 1981. Finally, he worked with others to raise sufficient funds to erect the Northern Forest Resources Education Building on the Northern Maine Fair Grounds.
Al’s distinguished career in bridging the interests of diverse groups, pioneering efforts to ensure public recreation access to lands for present and future generations, and assisting the state, region, and local community is a wonderful example of the possibilities that await future graduates in the School of Forest Resources. It is for this reason that we are honored to recognize Albro F. Cowperthwaite Jr. as the 2012 School of Forest Resources Distinguished Alumnus.