Tom Doak gets caught in the Wildfire

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 From Sunday hunting to picking edible crops on private land, my Wildlife co-host James Cote and I covered lots of hot topics with Tom Doak of the Small Woodland Owners Association, on the new edition of our TV talk show that kicks off tonight.

Each edition of Wildlife is aired on Time Warner cable station 9 on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 pm, and Sundays at 9:30 am. Each edition airs for two weeks. You can also access the show, including previous shows, online at

One major topic was discontinued roads, which many Mainers use to get into the woods to hunt, fish, hike, bird watch, and enjoy other outdoor experiences. Tom and SWOAM have been working on this issue for many years, and won a major victory at the legislature this year. He tells you all about it on Wildfire.

Maine once had 50 fish hatcheries or feeding stations

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                 The latest edition of the newsletter of the Maine Historical Society contained a link to a very interesting story detailing the history of fish hatcheries in Maine. I was astonished to learn that between 1895 and 1956, the state operated about 50 hatcheries or feeding stations. Today, DIF&W operates just 6 hatcheries and two feeding stations, amd hatchery in Gray is now closed due to a water problem.

class="MsoNormal">                The story, written by Candace Kanes for the Maine Memory Network, reports that, “The state's first fish hatchery was at Craig Brook in East Orland, started in 1871, and rebuilt in 1880. It became a National Fish Hatchery in 1889, dedicated to raising and stocking juvenile Atlantic salmon in Maine.

Peaks is a great Maine island get-a-way

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Peaks Island
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                There are lots of reasons I love to go to Peak's Island and right at the top is the Inn at Peak's. The suites at the inn are spacious and very comfortable. We’ve stayed in three different rooms here, and they were all nice with bright primary colors of painted furniture accenting the pale pastel walls. The high pine ceiling and full wall of windows in our “Cliff Island” room flooded the room with light. Amenities of an outside deck, gas fireplace, refrigerator, coffee pot, and two TV's add to its comfort and charm.

Brook trout specialist tells it like it is

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 “Our instream habitat around the state is the pits.” Those were the words of Merry Gallagher, brook trout specialist and fisheries research biologist for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, explaining that, in the days of floating logs down our brooks and streams, those waters were straightened out by bulldozers and dynamite, and a lot of  the structure, including boulders, was removed.

Merry is a superb champion for our native and wild brook trout, and highly respected around the state for her work. It was a real pleasure to attend her talk in Wayne on July 13, sponsored by the Kennebec Land Trust.

Merry also expressed concern about climate change, reporting that “In many areas for brook trout, we are exceeding the thermal tolerance of these fish.”

Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep by James Babb

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Jim Babb had we worried in the first few chapters of his book, Fish Won’t Let Me Sleep, as he wrote about his obsession with Atlantic salmon, “the fish of 10,000 casts.” I know, I know. Atlantic salmon are so hard to catch that the common description is “the fish of 1,000 casts.” For Babb, sometimes, it’s 10,000 casts. Yet he confessed to being obsessed with Atlantic salmon.

I’ve only caught one Atlantic salmon in my life, when I was brook trout fishing on the Leaf River in far northern Quebec. I fished for them once in the Penobscot River in Bangor, in the 1970s, caught nothing, and moved on.  So I was afraid Jim’s new book was going to focus on a fish I quickly lost interest in.

Ezra Smith's Eulogy

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 Written by George with lots of help from Gordon and Edie

            Every day was a great day for Ezra Smith. In the Hospice Unit at the VA’s Togus facility since April, Dad thrived, thanks to the extraordinary care of the professionals there, and even in his final weeks, when he was on ever-heavier dosages of morphine and slept a lot, when he awoke, he’d exclaim, “Well, this is a great day!”

            I have no doubt, if he could speak here today, he’d tell you, this is a great day.

This Maine farmer tells us how to improve wildlife habitat on our own land

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 A subtitle on John Twomey’s interesting and informative book, Retiring To, Not From, reports that it includes, “Intimate details of life on a remote farm in Maine.” And that is certainly true.

The level of detail about farming will be of interest to anyone who grows vegetables and fruit, but what intrigued me was John’s explanations of how he has improved wildlife habitat on the Montville farm of he and his partner Leigh, since retiring there in 2009. This former U. Mass. Professor is, to put it mildly, really into farming and wildlife!

From pruning hundreds of apple trees to planting thousands of white and chestnut oaks to mowing his fields and brushy areas in a way that most benefits wildlife, John gives us lots of great ideas about how all of us who care about Maine’s wildlife from birds to deer, can help them survive and thrive here.

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