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.

Can hunting and fishing rebuild Greenville’s economy?

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The greater Greenville economy has launched a new branding initiative to float its sinking economy. And I was there for the birth.  

Roger Brooks, an internationally-known community branding expert, presented the Moosehead Lake Region Branding Initiative in an exciting speech to a packed auditorium at the Greenville Consolidated School on Friday. I am certain that every one of us left that auditorium excited about what we’d heard and committed to making this happen.

But there were some disappointments, at least for me. For a community that was a major destination for hunters and anglers in the past, neither seems to be part of the new plan. While the community gets to work creating and implementing an Action Plan and To Do list, it is heartbreaking for this lifelong sportsmen to realize that my favorite outdoor activities are no longer considered growth industries.

Hunting and Fishing

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