LaRoche is named AWW’s 1st super

Posted April 17, 2009, at 7:16 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A veteran Bureau of Parks and Lands staffer has been appointed the first superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Matt LaRoche, Penobscot River Corridor park manager and AWW interim manager, has been named the AWW superintendent, according to Maine Department of Conservation officials. The position is the first superintendency in the state parks system, and LaRoche is the first person to fill such a position.

LaRoche is a 32-year veteran with the Bureau of Parks and Lands, a division of the MDOC.

“LaRoche is a competent, steady manager,” MDOC Commissioner Patrick McGowan said, in announcing the appointment. “The AWW is a complex entity within our state park system that is one of Maine’s most valued treasures.

“We wish Matt great success in this new endeavor,” McGowan said.

“We really are looking forward to Matt’s taking over management of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway,” Will Harris, BPL director, said. “His experience, positive attitude and knowledge of the area and wilderness camping and canoeing are a tremendous resource for the waterway.”

“I consider it a privilege to be able to manage one of the most scenic rivers in the country and one of the most pristine,” LaRoche said. “And I find it somewhat nostalgic to go back to the place where I started my career in the Department of Conservation.”

The AWW consists of a 92-mile-long corridor of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams winding through the northern Maine forest, comprising about 23,000 acres. It starts at Telos Lake and ends a few miles south of Allagash Village, which is located at the confluence of the Allagash and St. John rivers.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway officially was established by the Maine Legislature in 1966 to protect the unique area. In 1970, it was named the first state-administered component of the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The AWW is featured this month as one of the top five “Man vs. Wild” adventure trips in “Outside” magazine, a national publication that reaches more than 2 million outdoor readers each month.

The AWW superintendency was created based on a recommendation from the Governor’s Task Force on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Harris said. The new position has more responsibility than a park manager and reports directly to the Parks operations director, he said.

LaRoche, who will begin immediately, is expected to maintain and improve the infrastructure of the AWW, Harris continued. LaRoche will supervise 12 fulltime and seasonal employees, he said.

In addition to having oversight of all the waterway operations, the superintendent will work closely with the seven-member AWW advisory council on the waterway management plan and on the development of an AWW endowment fund, the BPL director said.

LaRoche has canoed, boated or driven a snowmobile on every section of the AWW several times.

“Matt is extremely well qualified of all the candidates we interviewed,” Harris said. “He has proven himself to be a valuable staff member, and we expect that to continue and expand with this opportunity.

“We look forward to his assistance in preserving and enhancing the character of the waterway,” the BPL director said.

For more information about the AWW, go to: http://maine.gov/allagash.

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