George's Outdoor News

George’s new outdoor issues blog. He goes all over the state. He listens. And he reports on issues of concern to sportsmen, conservationists, and environmentalists.

Roger AuClair: a renowned and revered fisheries biologist

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 Roger AuClair should never be forgotten. I especially appreciated his relentless advocacy for our native brook trout. Along with fisheries biologist Forrest Bonney, Roger helped me to understand how important Maine’s native and wild brook trout are, and inspired me to work to protect and enhance them.

With leadership from the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, especially SAM’s Fisheries Initiative Committee, we were able to convince the legislature to designate brook trout as our state’s Heritage Fish and to protect them in waters that have never been stocked.

But Roger AuClair was way ahead of us on this. Here’s something he once said, “I have never agreed to using live fish as bait, which is a danger because it can result in unwanted introductions and cause all sorts of problems. But it’s so well entrenched world-wide, you can’t even talk about it. It’s all about business.”

If you love camping, you will really love this new air mattress

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 My wife Linda and I stopped tenting years ago. We enjoy being pampered now, and our travel column gives us that opportunity from coastal inns to north woods sporting camps. But all of our children and grandchildren enjoy tenting and camping, so I arranged for son Josh to receive the SoundAsleep Camping Series air mattress, a low rise inflatable mattress.

And – as you will see in this report from Josh – he and his wife Kelly and 2-year-old daughter Ada loved it.

Josh’s Comments

Fascinating stories from the Allagash

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I’ve enjoyed Tom Caverly’s books over the years, both his books for adults and his books for kids. But I think his newest book, The Ranger and the Reporter, is my favorite.

I particularly appreciate the “New England Reads” literacy project that Tim and his wife Sue have been doing since 2015, providing 157 power point programs to almost 6,000 students. They encourage literacy and learning about our natural world, and have donated over 1500 of Tim’s book, Allagash Tail’s, to 133 New England schools.

Fish stocking depends on public access to the water

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 Maine waters are stocked with fish only when the public is able to access the water. I’ve been concerned for years that the stocking policy of Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is vague, and not enforced uniformly throughout the state. So I’ve been asking some questions lately about this, and I’m hoping you can help me on this project.

My interest in this issue was raised again by a recent story in the Kennebec Journal by reporter Jessica Lowell. Here’s Jessica’s report about the town of Washington’s annual town meeting:

Town Residents took no action on expanding the boat launch just off Route 105 on the southern end of Washington Pond. “It was develop a hand-carry,” Wesley (Daniel, chair of the board of selectmen) said. The launch can accommodate boats that can be put in the water by hand – canoes and kayaks, for instance. Larger boats that require trailers aren’t allowed, he said, in part because parking is limited.

The new edition of Wildlife is all about Maine sporting camps.

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 Will we have any sporting camps in Maine in 25 years? Good question! We’ve gone from more than 300 to about 3 dozen of the traditional sporting camps, where there’s a lodge serving food and cabins for sleeping. Many sporting camps today offer only housekeeping cabins, and then there are new types of camps including Huts and Trails.

The new edition of Wildfire, airing tonight, explores this issue and many more, all focused on the challenges faced by camp owners today and the great experiences still available at our remaining sporting camps.

My co-host James Cote was retained this year to be the lobbyist at the legislature and Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for the Maine Sporting Camp Association.

And Down East Books just published my book, Maine Sporting Camps. We tell you all about the book and what I learned while writing it.

Here are some important places to get info on Lyme disease

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 My wife Linda had two embedded ticks recently, both of which we removed almost immediately. One was a wood tick and one was a deer tick. But one of the spots, three days later, swelled up, so she visited the doctor yesterday and got a mild antibiotic. Lyme disease is a constant threat these days, and to put it mildly, every tick worries us.

The April edition of Maine Woodlands, a publication of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine (SWOAM), contains a great article by Jeanne Siviski titled, “It’s Tick Season. Get to Know Your Adversary.” Jeanne reports that, “The 5- to 14-year old age group, and those over 65, have been most vulnerable” to Lyme disease. Yikes! I’m in one of those groups.

Jeanne notes that deer ticks has a dark brown scutum, or shield, on their back near the head, a telltale sign. “If the deer tick is infected with the Lyme bacteria,” she reports, “it takes 24 to 48 hours to contract Lyme disease. This is why doing daily tick checks is vital.” We do those at our house.

Lots of folks working to expand Maine woods economy

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 The 2016 “Maine Woods Destination Rally” was an interesting and informative event, featuring national speakers and lots of encouraging information about the rural/woods Maine economy. I took 9 pages of notes and could write a dozen columns about it, but here are some of the highlights.

Mike Wilson directs the Maine Woods Consortium, the sponsor of the event, and began by telling us about the Northern Forest Center, in which all of the Northeastern states work together to expand the rural economy. Mike noted that “infrastructure is important” as well as high quality experiences. This year they’ve launched the Maine Woods Discovery Tour, a collaborative media effort in four regions.

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