June 26 – July 2, 2020Vol. 22, No. 3

Summer Arrives

Olivia and Jake at French Mountain.

by Pete Kallin

Although the calendar says summer has barely begun, it already seems to be flying by with lots going on with the various groups I work with, all under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am inspired by the way various groups have used originality and technology to carry out their missions and still comply with the restrictions and social distancing of the governor's executive orders.

As infection numbers have dropped and testing capacity has increased, there has been a careful and measured loosening of the restrictions in order to reopen the economy. In our county, restaurants and most businesses are open on at least a limited basis. Some of the summer camps and sporting camps are beginning to host clients. It is good to see our friends from away and people seem to be carefully complying with restrictions.

A sign in the driver's window of an SUV with Massachusetts plates parked at the trailhead on The Mountain.

Among the many hats I wear, I chair the Advisory Board of the Maine Lakes Society, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to protecting the health of Maine's lakes for future generations through science-based education, action, and policy. Last week they held their 50th annual meeting, which is normally an all-day meeting of over 100 people, with multiple speakers on various aspects of Maine's lakes. This year they went virtual and the speakers each presented a weekly 45-minute webinar over the past couple of months, with the board elections and keynote at the end. Over 800 people attended one or more webinars and the talks are now available for viewing online anytime. Check it out. I guarantee you will find something that piques your interest. Another group I work with, Lake Stewards of Maine, is doing something similar with a series of weekly webinars on citizen science and water quality monitoring. Check out "Fridays at Four for Lakes" here.

Dick Greenan, a.k.a. the "Dam Keeper," with nice pike from Messalonskee Lake.

Mother Nature has continued to ignore the pandemic and provide a venue where people can relax and find a bit of sanctuary in the relative safety of the outdoors. The lakes are continuing to warm, the palette of wildflowers and birds in the forests continue to change and the fishing remains good. I have continued to catch lots of big fish at sunrise as they cruise the shallows at the Sunfish Breakfast Buffet and many fishermen in Great Pond are catching lots of brown trout below 25 feet. Kids are swimming everywhere, including young Lily Johnstone, learning to swim under the watchful eyes of her grandparents, George and Judy. I recently hike several 7-Lakes Alliance trails and met Jake celebrating his recent graduation from Lawrence High School in Fairfield with his friend, Olivia, who graduated last year and is now a student at the University of New England. Jake has been hiking French Mountain since he was 5 or 6.

This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store, 182 Main St., Belgrade Lakes, or from the 7-LA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center, 137 Main St., Belgrade Lakes. There are scheduled webinars on Great Pond Water Quality (July 1), Invasive Milfoil (July 17), and a Plant Paddle planned for North Pond (July 20). Keep an eye on the sign in front of the MLRC and check the 7-LA website and Facebook page for further updates. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure!

Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.