Due in part to the fact that they live in a state positioned at the forefront of the Atlantic conservation effort in this country, Mainers often play crucial roles that are hard to ignore.
The efforts of hundreds of anglers and conservationists who live along the banks of the Penobscot River — the river with the highest population of wild Atlantic salmon in the U.S. — are vitally important.
This morning, I’m happy to tell you that the extraordinary commitment of one local resident has been recognized by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.
Earlier this week, Ray “Bucky” Owen of Orono received the prestigious Lee Wulff Conservation Award, which the ASF presents annually to those who have made outstanding long-term conservation efforts.
The presentation was announced in New York City, and it recognizes Owen’s lifetime commitment to the environment and the work he has done to protect wild Atlantic salmon habitat in particular.
Owen is no stranger to longtime readers of the Bangor Daily News — he has served as the commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, was a professor who served as chairman of the University of Maine’s wildlife department and has donated his time to several other conservation organizations.
In recent years, he has spent considerable time and money promoting the Penobscot River Restoration Project.
He is also a competitive whitewater canoeist and an avid cross country skier and bicyclist.
“Bucky Owen is a highly respected spokesman for Maine’s environment,” said Richard Warren, chairman of the ASF (U.S.) and publisher of the BDN, in a press release. “His commitment is helping us achieve the goals of the restoration of the Penobscot River in Maine [through the Penobscot River Restoration Project], a significant undertaking that will open 1,000 miles of habitat to sea-run fish.”
To that end, Owen is currently working on a project at Blackman Stream in Bradley that will help restore alewife runs, according to the ASF release.
Owen was one of those anglers who took part in the 2008 Atlantic salmon season on the Penobscot. He caught two fish during that monthlong season.
A personal note: In my own dealings with Owen, I have seen him show a remarkable ability to calm contentious debates with a soft-spoken demeanor that relies on logic, not emotion.
Simply put, when Bucky Owen speaks during a hearing or meeting, everybody pays close attention.
And, I’ve learned, many of the wisest folks at those meetings seem to end up agreeing with him in the end.
Congratulations to Owen for a well-deserved honor.
Hand-carry proposal to air
Over the past couple of decades, the Bangor waterfront has been rejuvenated. Cruise ships and pleasure boats dock at the town pier. Businesses bustle. The American Folk Festival draws hundreds of thousands of interested spectators.
As the waterfront park takes shape, however, there’s still room for improvement that could fill a void in the city’s waterfront offerings.
Dan Cassidy, the chairman of Bangor’s harbor committee, said on Friday that his group and the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department are considering options for a hand-carry boat access point along the Bangor waterfront.
“One of the limitations of the waterfront is that there’s no really good place [that provides a hand-carry launch site for small boats],” Cassidy said. “The only existing places to put in are down in Hampden at the public launch or on the Brewer side above the [former Bangor] dam.”
The problem with the Brewer site, Cassidy said, is that paddlers must be careful to time their arrival and departure with the tides.
“If they put in on the wrong side of the tide, they’ll have to deal with the rapids at the dam,” Cassidy said.
Eventually, if Cassidy and others have their way, that might not be the case.
Cassidy’s group and Bangor Parks and Recreation are holding a public forum on Thursday that will deal with the issue in depth.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department building on Main Street.
The forum will seek public comment on a proposed site, look for suggestions for possible small boat activities, and look toward future usage of the waterfront by users who utilize small boats.
Cassidy said the group has a site in mind that is in an area known as Dunnett’s Cove. That cove is downstream from the existing town docks and the ongoing coal tar removal process. It’s out of the main current, according to Cassidy, and a safe place to launch small, paddle-powered boats.
Cassidy said the groups are looking at providing parking and a possible spot for some boat storage at the site. The launch site would not be a full-access facility that could be used by people hauling boats on trailers but would be suited for those with boats that can be carried to the water.
If you’re interested in taking part in the discussion, Cassidy hopes you’ll head to the meeting on Thursday.
“The idea is to get information out and to see if there are folks who are interested to come to this forum because we want public feedback not only on the plan but also to see what interest there is in activities at that site,” Cassidy said.
PFF symposium on tap
Each year the Penobscot Fly Fishers hold several events that are worth attending. Later this month, one of those traditional offerings will take place.
The group’s annual fly tying symposium is set for Nov. 22 at the Brewer Auditorium, and some of the state’s most celebrated tiers will be on hand to show their skills.
Among those are Dave Klausmeyer, the editor of Fly Tyer magazine; hairwing salmon fly artist Ed Muzeroll; Alvin Theriault (the man many credit with creating the popular “maple syrup” fly) and the tying McKays, dad Kevin and young sons Tait and Jax.
A quick note: I’ve purchased flies from the McKay brothers at past shows, and the personable youngsters are already accomplished tiers and businessmen. Spend enough time at their booth and you just might learn something.
In all, 25 tiers are signed up for the show thus far.
The event will run from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., and admission is free.
The show is very relaxed affair, with exhibitors getting the chance to spend a lot of time giving individual tips to attendees looking for pointers.
For more information, go to www.penobscotflyfishers.com or call Don Corey at 843-5634.