Battle of the St. Croix Not Settled Yet

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The Maine Legislature is about to RUIN some of the BEST fishing found in the North East. The Entire St. Croix River Basin is at Risk!

This huge black-highlighted text was at the top of a half-page newspaper headline in my Kennebec Journal on April 18, sponsored by the Grand Lake Stream Guide Association. The ad summarizes the Association’s case against allowing alewives to move from the St. Croix River up and into the Upper St. Croix Lakes.

I’ve been involved in this Battle of the St. Croix for two decades and it’s a fierce one. Initially, in the mid-1990s, when I worked for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, I testified in favor of a bill to block alewives from entering the lakes. And we succeeded. At that time, Maine’s Departments of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Marine Resources differed on the issue with DIF&W supporting the blockage and DMR opposing it. Our side won and a barrier was constructed to keep alewives out of the lakes.

Lyme disease breaks out at Maine legislature

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                 It’s a great bill addressing a tough disease, but it will have a tough time getting enacted, mostly because it’s a tax hike. I can only hope that legislators understand the terrible consequences of Lyme disease and the spread of ticks and other insects, and recognize the need for money to support the important work that would be funded.

Sunday brunch at the Harraseeket Inn can be sublime

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                The best Sunday brunch in Maine is found at Freeport’s Harraseeket Inn. Check out the February 8 menu, published with this column, and see if you agree. Better yet, experience this yourself. During yet another snow storm, we cozied up to the fire next to our table and proceeded to dine for 2 ½ hours.

Homes Down East – Classic Maine Coastal Cottages and Town Houses

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 Fifty-two gorgeous homes, historical, elegant, many on the ocean that, as the book Homes Down East describes them, “remain as fresh and inviting today as when they were built more than a century ago.”

Well, most of them fit that description. Some have burned or been torn down to make way for new bigger more modern homes and summer cottages. Thirty-two of the homes in the book are still standing.

The three authors and one photographer who put this book together for Maine’s Tilbury House Publishers are as distinguished as the homes they write about and photograph.

Earl Shettleworth Jr. has been Maine’s State Historian since 2004, but got involved in this field way back in 1964 when he cofounded Greater Portland Landmarks. He was appointed to the first board of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission in 1971 and has served as the commission’s director since 1976. Earl has written extensively on Maine history and architecture.

Ten Thousand Birds – Ornithology Since Darwin

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 When I saw the title, Ten Thousand Birds, on the Princeton University Press message, I got excited. Linda and I got hooked on birding ten years ago, and birding opportunities are involved in most of our travel trips these days. And we hardly ever step out of the house without our binoculars. In fact, I just had to interrupt writing this column because I heard my first-of-the-spring Phoebe singing in a tree in the front yard and had to go out and take a look. While I was out there, two Bald eagles soared right over my head!

Since I started writing full time four years ago, including book reviews, I have been very impressed with the birding and wild animal books published by Princeton University Press. But I have to confess that when Ten Thousand Birds arrived, I was disappointed. It turns out that it doesn’t include photos of 18,000 birds! And it weighs four pounds!

Why doesn’t Maine value its spectacular native Brook trout?

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 It was bad enough when smallmouth bass migrated from Umbagog Lake into the Rapid River to threaten and compete with the river’s spectacular native brook trout. But now, the news is even more discouraging. Our own fisheries biologists have allowed inbred brook trout from a diseased water to infest the Rapid. Their stunning lack of appreciation for Maine’s native brookies is appalling.

Of course, I’m not surprised, given the many years it took the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to get the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to recognize and protect our native brookies. And we had to take the issue to the legislature to accomplish that goal.

Anglers who love the native brook trout in the Rapid River, just west of Rangeley, alerted me to this problem. Here’s what I’ve discovered.

One Maine hunting license could replace more than 60 licenses and permits – for just $38!

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We have a single fishing license. And it’s time for a single hunting license.

Let’s consider what fishing would be like if the licensing system had developed like the hunting license and permit system. We’d have a license for open water fishing and another license for ice fishing. Hunting licenses and permits are required for many different species. So we’d have a fishing permit for brook trout, another for landlocked salmon, a third for nonnative species including bass, maybe one for stocked fish too. Hunting licenses and permits are required for different types of weapons, so we’d have a fishing permit for fly fishing and another for spin casting. When we created fall fishing opportunities, we would have created a fall fishing permit, for sure.

Do you think a complexity of fishing licenses and permits would have encouraged more people to fish in Maine? Perhaps the simplicity of the single fishing license is one reason twice as many people fish as hunt in our state.

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