Harry Vanderweide's long battle with chronic Lyme disease

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 Yesterday morning, I sat down with my long-time friend and colleague, Harry Vanderweide, to write his Lyme disease story so it could be shared with legislators next Tuesday at a public hearing on a Lyme disease bill. Harry is probably the state’s best-known sportsman. He edited The Maine Sportsman magazine for four decades, hosted his own outdoor TV show for 25 years, and was a founder of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine. For the last 14 years Harry has co-hosted the TV talk show Wildfire with me. I have been blessed to have hunted and fished with Harry for a very long time. And it has been tough to see the impact of Lyme disease as Harry has struggled with it over the last 5 years. Here is Harry’s story, in his own words, as he told it to me yesterday.

Harry’s Story

A recreational paradise in Maine’s great North Woods

City or Town: 
Millinocket
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 Matt Polstein is the perfect example of what it takes to succeed these days in the sporting camp business. Matt has renovated most of the old cabins that were part of Twin Pine Camps, constructed new cabins and luxurious 3-bedroom houses, added a superb restaurant, and partnered with conservation groups to protect surrounding lands and with outdoor recreation groups to add experiences to the traditional pursuits of hunting and fishing.

                When we were there a few weeks ago, it was clear that the New England Outdoor Center is a major destination for snowmobilers. While Matt rents snowmobiles, many of his guests arrive with huge trailers full of them. Some bring two for each member of their party, in case one breaks down!

Lyme Disease news is all bad and getting worse

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Lyme disease – delivered by deer ticks – is a growing problem in Maine and the nation. When a legislative committee hosts a hearing next Tuesday on An Act To Improve Access to Treatments for Lyme disease, committee members better be prepared for some horror stories.

I talked with the bill’s sponsor, Representative Deb Sanderson of Chelsea, earlier this week about her concerns and her bill. But before I get to that, consider the most recent news.

Snow Helped Ticks

Ho Hum Hearing shows little interest in Fish and Wildlife Budget

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Even I was surprised to find myself the only one testifying in support of the new biennial budget for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. After Commissioner Chandler Woodcock spent about 40 minutes presenting the highlights of his budget to the Appropriations Committee and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, Appropriations Chair Senator James Hamper made a joke that the sign-up sheet indicated a lot of folks were eager testify on the budget.

And then he called on me – telling committee members that I was the only one who was there to testify. I told the committees that the lack of visible support and testimony for the budget probably was all they needed to know about how discouraged agency advocates are in trying to advance the important work of this department.

Here’s what I had to say.

Governor breaks promise, withholds funds, and threatens conservation projects

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Governor Paul LePage is withholding more than $11 million that would allow 41 outstanding conservation projects to be completed – even though he promised to fund these projects as part of a deal to pay off state debts to Maine hospitals in 2013, and despite the fact that 60 percent of Maine voters approved the bonds in 2010 and 2012 that authorized this money.

While members of the Land for Maine’s Future Board – all of whom were appointed by Governor LePage – are in the dark on this, many legislators and lobbyists have heard the news and have been talking about it for the past couple of weeks. Last week a key legislator in the know confirmed for me that the Governor is indeed doing this. The Governor has not issued an announcement or even an acknowledgement of this, so I am hopeful that he will change his mind and allow these terrific projects to be completed.

Dangerous and delightful invasive animals, fish, plants and people

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A conversation with my friend Harry Vanderweide.

Harry: I don’t even like the term invasives. They don’t invade.

George: They do. They’re here. To stay.

Harry: They don’t invade. Particularly fish. How do they invade any place? Someone has to put them into the water, particularly fresh water fish.

George: You’re not saying that’s a good thing.

Harry: Sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it a bad thing. Depends on the species.

George: When is it a good thing?

The Glory that is Alaska

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 At the Flagstaff Lodge of Maine Huts and Trails this weekend, Linda and I met a young lady who was leaving soon for Alaska. I was envious. And I returned home to dig out a file of Alaska stories that I wrote after three amazing trips there. Here is one of them.

 

                “The character of place defines us,” wrote John Haines, poet laureate of Alaska. “Place makes people.”

                Maine is my place. But after a recent trip to Alaska, I think this could have been my place, in different circumstances. 

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