Mike Elam recognized with Friend of Conservation Award

Posted 4 June 2021 at 1:57 pm

Soil & Water Conservation District cites Elam’s lifetime commitment to the environment

Press Release, Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District

Provided photo: Mike Elam on Thursday received a Friend of Conservation Award, which was presented by Katie Sommerfeldt, manager of the Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District.

ALBION –  The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District is proud to award Mike Elam with the Friend of Conservation Award.

Mike has a long history of environmental conservation in Orleans County. In 1949 his father and grandfather bought what is now “Captain’s Cove,” though at the time it was called “Hatch and Elam Boat Livery.”

Both his father, Jack Elam, and his grandfather, Butch Hatch, were very influential in regards to conservation and nurtured respect for the environment. Growing up in that environment, and having Oak Orchard Creek as his playground, it’s no surprise that Mike grew up to follow in their footsteps.

“I was lucky to be raised in Orleans County and especially to live on Oak Orchard Creek,” Mike said. “Protecting Orleans County’s waterways was and still is important to me.”

He strives to not only educate himself, but to also pass along his knowledge and respect for the environment to future generations. His grandkids have already started following the same path. They enjoy going fishing, catching frogs, and picking up litter when out by the water. Mike knows that the best way to garner a love for the outdoors is to build that relationship early.

In 1976 Mike became a member of the Orleans County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, and in the same year he helped found a B.A.S.S. chapter called Oak Orchard Bassmasters. He spent the mid-’70s on a committee to revise fish seasons, length, and bag limits, as well as lift the ban on salmon stocking. Mike was very outspoken on banning the practice of snagging salmon in the early 1980s, and also spent 5 years running water sample tests on Lake Alice through the Citizen’s Statewide Lake Assessment Program.

Mike started coming to Orleans County Water Quality meetings about 20 years ago to represent sportsmen’s interests, as well as his own interest in water protection and conservation. A few years ago, Mike was appointed to the chairman position and has been instrumental in keeping the committee alive and informed on all things water quality. During the same time, he would help the DEC as needed with banding ducks, geese and screech owls.

2007 was a busy year for Mike. All within that year he became the sportsman’s rep to the Region 8 Fish & Wildlife Management Board, a councilman to the New York State Conservation Council, and joined the Finger Lakes Conservation Council (which he currently leads as president).

All of this barely even scratches the surface of Mike’s devotion to environmental conservation. During his years he would volunteer with the DEC, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Iroquois Wildlife Refuge. It should come as no surprise that someone with such a lifelong dedication to our county and our planet will be receiving the Friend of Conservation Award.

“Conservation in the future will be an important issue as the public becomes aware of the value of clean water and clean air, and the importance of fish stocks and protecting wildlife,” Mike said. “If the pandemic did anything positive, it made people more aware of the environment and the need to protect it.”