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by Pete Kallin
Last week I wrote about a couple of great programs that focus on getting youth outdoors and teaching them the skills they need to enjoy and thrive outdoors. There are also some great programs that encourage life-time learning and enjoyment of the outdoors by people of all ages.
Early last week I was headed to BRCA's Great Meadow Stream property in Smithfield to pick some wild raspberries and blueberries. As I crossed the Route 225 bridge at the Rome-Smithfield line, I noticed a bunch of SUVs and pickups pulling in with canoes and kayaks on the roof. I stopped to talk to the group to make sure they knew about the milfoil infestation in the stream.
The group was from Gold Leaf, the University of Maine Farmington (UMF) Senior College. Gold Leaf is a member-run organization devoted to lifelong learning in the Franklin County area, for anyone age 50 or older. They offer intellectually stimulating classes and activities reflecting the interests of its members, socializing with people with similar interests, and affiliation with the University of Maine at Farmington, allowing access to UMF's faculty and facilities. There are seventeen Senior Colleges throughout Maine, including at University of Maine at Augusta, where I occasionally help teach classes on Maine's Natural World. These are great programs!
One of the leaders of this particular field trip was Frank Chin, who also volunteers as a Courtesy Boat Inspector for the Thirty Mile River Watershed Association. He was selling "Passive Craft Invasive Aquatic Species Stickers" to all the kayakers as "the price of admission." These stickers are printed by the Maine Lakes Society and Lakes Environmental Association and distributed to lake associations and watershed associations to help them raise funds for their invasive aquatic species programs. If you want one for your canoe or kayak, stop by the Maine Lakes Resource Center and BRCA's Toni Pied will give you one in exchange for a $5 (minimum) donation.
I gave the group a short briefing on the milfoil mitigation efforts taking place in the stream, helped them launch their boats, and then headed down the access road to the BRCA property along the stream to pick berries. I first went down to the old "Oakland Marina" and waited for the kayakers to pass by so I could take some pictures.
About five minutes before they arrived, I could hear them coming downstream. For the next few minutes I was treated to a number of waterfowl flying right past me that the boats were flushing ahead of them. I saw wood ducks, black ducks, belted kingfishers, rails, and an American bittern, all of which flew right past me headed downstream.
Take advantage of the rest of the summer and get out on the lakes or hike or bike in the hills. Try a kayak trip down the Great Meadow Stream. And take a kid along, or a senior citizen that you will help make a kid again. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.