The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is truly the jewel of Maine’s legendary northwoods. The waterway is a remote 92-mile long river and lake area that is managed by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. The Allagash is one of the premier canoe trips in the eastern United States. The fisheries of the waterway are plentiful and essentially native. The primary visitors to the waterway are canoeists and fishermen.
Public use of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway has declined significantly since the mid-1980s, when finding a campsite in July was a major concern for those paddling the waterway. This drop in public use is not unique for the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. North Maine Woods and Baxter State Park have experienced similar declines in use since the boom years of the 1980s.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway is held in high esteem by those who paddle its waters and fish its depths for native brook trout and togue.
This winter, the waterway staffed a booth at the Cabin Fever Reliever show in Brewer. Every person I talked to at the show either wanted to visit the waterway or had visited and wanted to go back! Sadly, a few people came by that said they were either too old or not in good enough shape to make a foray into the wilds of the Allagash.
The idea for a web-based video series was first discussed during the recently completed 15-year management planning process. To create a video series, the Allagash Wilderness Waterway received private donations and a Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant to sponsor a video project. The project went out to bid in July 2013. Patrick Bonsant, doing business as House Productions, was awarded the contract on Sept. 1, 2013.
Patrick and his film crew came up to the waterway in late September to shoot most of the video. Since the weather did not cooperate on that trip, they came up again in early October to finish the summer/fall footage. The film crew returned again in January to film the segment on winter use and hit perfect winter weather conditions.
The resulting video series includes eight different segments that can be watched independently or as one unit. The total length of the video series is 73 minutes. The segment topics include: Planning a trip to the North Maine Woods; Planning a visit to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway; Geography of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway; Allagash Wilderness Waterway Heritage; Staying Safe; Minimize your Campsite Impact; Allagash Wilderness Waterway Fisheries; and Winter Use.
One of the most significant challenges of the production was editing the many hours of film down to a clear, concise 70-minute presentation that captured the beauty and uniqueness of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway and its many offerings.
The segment on Allagash Wilderness Waterway Heritage was particularly challenging to shorten. There is so much history related to early logging in the waterway. In fact, the production contractor suggested that we consider making a 30-minute documentary focused solely on the history of logging along the waterway.
The Allagash Wilderness Waterway hopes that the video series will give people a greater understanding of the waterway, and help potential visitors better prepare for an Allagash adventure. We also hope that the video will inspire more people to visit this beautiful National Scenic and Wild River.
The video can be viewed by clicking on the YouTube link located on the AWW webpage: www.maine.gov/allagashwildernesswaterway.
The project was funded, in part, by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, from proceeds from the sale of a dedicated instant lottery ticket (Moose Money) used to support outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation. For more information about Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, visit www.maine.gov/ifw/MOHF.html
Matthew LaRoche is superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.