In Remembrance: A. Bartlett Hague Jr. ’50 Died on December 23 2023

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Bart Hague, who passed away on December 23 at age 96, was a lifelong leader in conservation and environmental protection. His life, relationships, career, retirement, and community work were driven by his dogged dedication to these causes. One of his long-time collaborators remarked, “Anyone who has ever argued against Bart regarding an environmental issue will understand the use of the adjective dogged.” To the last, he told his caregivers he was a “lifelong hiker.” 

The seed for Bart’s interest in the environmental field was planted when he visited his Aunt Mary on McWain Hill in Waterford as a boy in the 1930s. The Maine landscape inspired him; he also witnessed environmental degradation for the first time when his favorite pine grove was clear-cut. His strongly held belief that society should protect this and other landscapes fully formed during his undergraduate and graduate years and guided his career in environmental protection and his membership in a burgeoning movement. 

His public service career in the environmental field spanned over four decades and included over 20 years as a charter employee in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he was a water quality planner on teams to clean up Virginia’s Potomac River, Boston Harbor, and Maine’s Androscoggin River. He helped plan the National Trails System with the National Parks Service under Interior secretary Stewart Udall’s staff. Mitigating environmental impacts of the highway system focused much of his early career, including during the design of President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system under special assistant Major General John S. Bragdon (1955–61). Although Bart began his career in Washington, DC, in 1967 he moved to the EPA’s New England office to be closer to his beloved family home in Waterford, which his aunt had bequeathed to him when he was 16. Always serving in the communities in which he lived, he was president of the Newton Conservators in Massachusetts while at EPA. After he retired from EPA in 1996, he dedicated his ensuing decades in retirement to working on environmental issues in Maine. 

Bart believed that environmental and conservation organizations needed to pool their resources and work together, and he was named president emeritus of Maine Lakes, having worked with others to unify several lakes associations. He similarly proposed a regional conservation effort around the Crooked River and Sebago Lake watershed that would, over a decade later, manifest as the robust collaborative, Sebago Clean Waters. He was an early voice advocating for regional collaboration amongst western Maine and eastern New Hampshire area conservation organizations. He believed that Maine’s greatest future challenges were related to land use and frequently advocated for sustainable development to maintain the character of Maine’s rural landscapes, protect large expanses of wilderness, and prevent environmental degradation.

Bart belonged to a generation of post–Teddy Roosevelt environmentalists who were keenly aware of the limits of our country’s national resources and believed that this natural beauty was a legacy that should be protected for posterity. His basic philosophy and approach to conservation was informed by his honors thesis at Yale, which he wrote on Gifford Pinchot, Teddy Roosevelt, and the early years of the conservation movement. Like the conservationists who influenced him, Bart did not oppose development but wanted to ensure that it was sustainable and did not occur at the expense of the public’s access to their natural environment. 

Bart involved himself in mitigation and prevention at the community as well as federal level. These efforts included several effective campaigns that prevented developments in western Maine from overwhelming natural resources. He highlighted the need to protect Portland’s Lake Sebago water supply. Over the course of his career, he played an important, and collaborative, role at the federal, state, and local levels in reducing paper mill pollution into the Androscoggin River. 

Bart earned many accolades for his environmental work from organizations he had collaborated with, and while he valued recognition, the sense of camaraderie he felt with the people he worked with, and the feeling of being part of a movement, was important to him. He was nominated for an EPA lifetime service award for his work protecting waters in New England and across the nation. He spent decades as a volunteer protecting Maine’s lakes and rivers and conserving scenic lands and forests in western Maine and most recently was amongst a group of environmentalists awarded with a Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) Clean Water Heroes award (2022) on the 50th anniversary of the Water Quality Act for his efforts to uphold water quality. 

Bart was particularly proud of his work in Waterford, including his work on two Waterford conservation planning and implementation committees. Bart served on the board of the Western Foothills Land Trust for eight years. Bart and Mary Ann placed 475 acres under conservation easement, including on McWain Hill, the former Camp Waganaki and a cove on McWain Pond, and at least a mile on both banks of the Crooked River, to protect the viewscape, landlocked salmon habitat, and water quality. 

Bart earned a BA from Yale University and an MS in conservation from the Michigan School of Natural Resources and an MA in social science from the University of Michigan. He was the son of pianist Arthur Bartlett Hague Sr. (BA1914 and instructor/professor of pianoforte, 1920–1961) and landscape watercolorist Marjory Abbott Hague. He was most at peace hiking in the White Mountains, swimming in McWain Pond, practicing sustainable forestry and organic gardening at home, and canoeing Maine’s lakes and rivers. He witnessed the Androscoggin River’s transformation from sludge to clear water in his paddles down river. 

Bart is survived by his wife and intellectual partner of 61 years, Mary Ann Conner Hague (née Whitehead) and three children: his son Art Hague and daughter-in-law Shivaun Pryor; daughter Beth Hague and son-in-law Libo Liu; and daughter Mary Hague Yearl ’05PhD; and by three grandchildren: Joe Yearl, Athena Yearl, and Nathaniel Liu. No public service is planned. In lieu of flowers, Bart and his family request donations be made to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Lakes, or the American Friends Service Committee.

—Submitted by the family.

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