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My name is Keith Michaud and this is “Letters From Away,” a blog written by a Mainer living outside the comfortable and sane confines of New England. The blog is intended for Mainers, whether they live in the Pine Tree State or beyond, and for anyone who has loved ’em, been baffled by ’em or both. Ayuh, I am “from away.” Worse still, I live on the Left Coast – in California. Enjoy! Or not. Your choice.
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- How Maine Became a Laboratory for the Future of Public Higher Ed | The Chronicle of Higher Education
- Angus King Urges Interior Department To Reconsider Offshore Drilling Proposal | Mainepublic.org
- Maine Voices: Higher education, employers must work together for bright future | Portland Press Herald
- Stunning reversal: McDaniels turns down Colts’ job to stay with Patriots | The Associated Press via the Portland Press Herald
- Kennebec River water levels could stay high into next week | Bangor Daily News
Tag Archives: George Smith
News stories and blogs on Maine’s major media websites not long ago reminded me just how every important fish and fishing are to me and Maine.
I’m not talking about commercial fishing. Commercial fishing in Maine is huge. In Maine, fishing is a way of life and enormous to the economy of the entire state. Fish is king in Maine.
What I’m talking about instead is the kind of fishing I learned as a kid – sports fishing and fishing for sustenance on inland waterways. The fishing I learned was a rite of passage and an outdoors activity to feed the body and soul.
And the mosquitoes and black flies, but that’s a different blog entry.
Stories on the websites of the Bangor Daily News, Portland Press Herald and Down East magazine were big in reminding me about the importance of fishing to socialization, culture, and heritage in Maine.
By rough estimates, I started fishing 40 years ago. And while I haven’t had the opportunity to wet a line in recent years, it remains central to the person I was, the person I am, and, I suspect, the person I will become.
No, this is not a story to match “A River Runs Through It,” the novel and subsequent movie that told of lives and deaths and the lessons learned by fishing a river.
Frighteningly, invasive species are crowding native species from Maine’s streams, ponds, and lakes.
The story of inland fishing is a bit murky. There is some hope and more than a bit of concern.
A Portland Press Herald story told of an effort to restore an ancient fish, the Arctic char, in Big Reed Pond. It is “ancient” because biologists believe the fish has been here since the last ice age. That’s not just your my-bones-hurt-and-feel-ancient sort of ancient. That is seriously ancient.
The problem for the orange-colored char started when a well-meaning sports fisherman introduced rainbow smelt in the water as way to provide more food for the char. But that backfired when the smelt ate small char and the char’s food.
But a state wildlife biologists, a private fishery, local lodge owners, and grants from Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund are slowly making the future brighter for the Arctic char.
George Smith’s DownEast.com blog some time ago focused on fishing. One titled “The battle between natives and those ‘from away’” especially caught my attention, of course, for its use of “from away.” After all, this blog is titled “Letters From Away.”
But I became far more interested in what he had to write about native fish and those that have been illegally or inadvertently introduced into Maine waters than I was with his use of the Mainer phrase for anything not of or from Maine.
Wildlife officials from Maine to California and many other areas in between are facing similar problems – non-native fish and other aquatic life being introduced into waterways and those species forcing out native fish and other aquatic life. Some are introduced by accident when carried on a boat or other gear that was not properly washed down or intentionally introduced by so-called sportsmen believing it would be good to have, say, bass or walleye in a trout habitat. I even found a story about a koi being pulled from a Maine pond. Koi?!
Either way, native species should be given a chance to survive and thrive in their natural habitat.
Here’s something from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s website on invasive species:
Invasive species are organisms that are introduced into a non-native ecosystem and which cause, or are likely to cause, harm to the economy, environment or human health. It is important to note that when we talk about a species being invasive, we are talking about environmental boundaries, not political ones. In addition to the many invasive species from outside the U.S., there are many species from within the U.S. that are invasive in other parts of the country.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the only agency of the U.S. Government whose primary responsibility is the conservation of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and plants. Because of our responsibilities, the Service is very concerned about the impacts that invasive species are having across the Nation. Invasive plants and animals have many impacts on fish and wildlife resources. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats and compete with our native wildlife and are thus harmful to our fish, wildlife and plant resources.
The website also provides FAQs, resources, laws, and other information.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife also has quite a bit of information. Follow this link and click on “Illegal Fish Stocking” for specific information. There is also information about invasive aquatic plants.
Here are links to some of those stories and blog entries.
[I immeatedly thought two things after reading the letter from the IF&W commisssioner: 1) this is what happens when non-journalistically trained writers (meaning the Down East blogger) are let loose; and 2) media in Maine should have known better than to run with the allegations presented without doing a extensive vetting of theinformation. Shame on the blogger. Shame on media in Maine. For full disclosure, I have linked to Mr. Smith’s blog in the past. Now I may not do it as frequently as I once had. … I must say, one of the commissioner’s lines was great. It included the phrase: “were nothing more than unsubstantiated coyote cries into the night.” — KM]
George Smith yesterday again wrote in his DownEast.com blog about the decline of white-tailed deer in northern Maine.
It appears unscrupulous landowners may be just as to blame for the drastic decline of deer as are back-to-back harsh winters and predators such as coyotes and bears. (I blogged about a Chamber of Commerce in Maine that had promoted a tournament for killing coyotes. That shows the level of frustration in the region.)
Personally, one of the more stark passages in the blog read:
At some northern Maine game registration stations, more bear than deer or moose were tagged. For example, the Fish River station registered forty-seven bears, twenty-three moose, and just four deer. The Portage station tagged ninety-two deer in 2007, thirty-one deer in 2008, but only nine deer this year.
I’m pretty certain the “Portage station” is Coffin’s General Store, of which I have written before. The Mom occasionally helps out at the store and she told me in the fall that kill numbers had dropped off drastically, but 92 to nine in just two years is terrible on so many levels.
For those who are non-hunters or anti-hunting, annual deer hunting is significant to the life and livelihood of Mainers. It is a rite of passage for youngsters in which responsibility, gun safety, and an appreciation for the outdoors are taught. It also is a significant economic component for rural and remote areas of the state where unemployment historically has been high. Hunting camps and other lodging, restaurants, gas stations, guides, taxidermist and more feel the pain in a poor hunting season.
Smith writes about the loss of wintering habitat for deer and how a land sale and swap ended up costing the state some of that habitiat.
Smith, the blog’s author, lives in Mount Vernon and is described as “a columnist, TV show host, executive director of the state’s largest sportsmen’s organization, political and public policy consultant, hunter, angler, and avid birder and most proud of his three children and grandson.” He knows that of which he writes.
Click this link to go to George’s Outdoor News blog.