January 2023 Newsletter from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

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Bureau of Parks and Lands

January 2023

In this Issue:

Director's Note - 2022: What a Year!

Andy Cutko during the winter at Merrymeeting Bay.

With the rapid pace of our daily lives, we’re so often caught up in the moment -- shoulder-deep into each day’s challenges and opportunities --that we sometimes lose track of the big picture. As the winter solstice and season’s holidays approach, it’s an ideal time to pause, take stock, and reflect on the successes of the past year – and we’ve had MANY!

Here are just a few:

  • We invested more than $3.5 million (and counting) of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to make Maine State Parks increasingly safe, welcoming, and accessible.
  • Maine’s State Park day-use continued at near-record pace, and camping reservations once again set an all-time high. (On our opening day, we had a 17-minute stretch of processing more than 100 reservations per minute!).
  • We’ve expanded State Park partnerships, with LL Bean Beach Boxes, volunteer service from the Maine National Guard to provide state parks with 142 cords of firewood, implementation of ‘Art on the Trails’ with the Portland Museum of Art, collaboration with the Nature Based Education Consortium and Third Place to provide free park passes to BIPOC individuals, and many others.
  • After acquiring the 32-mile Madison Branch rail trail in late 2021, we’re now ahead of schedule in transforming it into a major recreational asset. We hope to open the trail in 2023.
  • We worked with the Maine Historic Preservation to secure a $500,000 grant to restore the historic Colburn House in Pittston.
  • We acquired key additions to the Kennebec Highlands Public Lands (working with 7 Lakes Alliance and using funding from the Land for Maine’s Future), Rangeley Lakes State Park (working with Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust), and Little Concord Pond State Park.
  • We finalized the Tumbledown Public Lands management plan and completed some outstanding trail work on Tumbledown using the Maine Conservation Corps.
  • We sustainably managed our Public Lands, harvesting more than 116,000 cords of wood in FY’22, providing fiber and jobs for Maine’s forest products sector.
  • We assisted countless municipalities, ATV clubs, and snowmobile clubs with grants for boating facilities, motorized and non-motorized trails, town parks, and other much-needed recreational improvements

Of course, all of these accomplishments (and many more) are attributable to a talented, dedicated, and fun staff team who make my job so rewarding. I’m looking forward to continuing to build on our many successes in 2023!

~ Andy Cutko, Director, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

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Call for Visual Artists - AWW Visiting Artist Application Opens on January 5

Sunrise on Umsaskis Lake on the Allagash Wilderness Waterway. Photo by Steve Day.

The Allagash Wilderness Waterway (AWW) has fueled the imagination of native Americans, rusticators, artisans, and the general public for centuries. Many visitors have attempted to capture the Allagash headwater lakes and lower river's beauty and solitude through stories, drawings, photography, and music. When Henry David Thoreau made his journey to Pillsbury Island on Eagle Lake in the mid-1800s, he was inspired to write about his adventure in The Maine Woods.

To honor this history, the Bureau of Parks and Lands AWW is continuing its Visiting Artist Program. The Program's goal is to immerse a visual artist in the exceptional AWW wilderness to interpret and share their experience through their art.

The selected artist will receive:

  • Rustic cabin lodging on the Waterway for two weeks during the month of August
  • An orientation to the Waterway by AWW rangers
  • Ranger safety check-ins and coordination of AWW transportation, the open studio, and public program(s)
  • Opportunity to invite one guest to join them free of charge
  • Media coverage before, during, and after their Allagash stay, through the Department’s press releases and social media posts, and the Bureau of Parks and Lands newsletter.

Online application opens on January 5 and closes on February 6, 2023. Read all the details, view previous AWW Visiting Artists' work, and apply online at the AWW Visiting Artist Program page.

~ Mark Deroche, Superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

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Camping Reservations Opening Day Includes Lily Bay State Park

Campsite set up with a pop-up camper and two kayaks on the foreground.

Camping reservations for Lily Bay State Park will now be accepted and processed on the first business day of February along with Sebago Lake State Park beginning this year, 2/1/2023 at 9:00 AM, EST. We have heard your feedback and have made this change to improve our campground reservation system during the opening days.

Remember, prime sites and locations fill up fast so plan to make your reservation as early as possible to secure a site. Here are campground maps and reservation information, that includes a demonstration of the system, to help you plan ahead for making your reservation in February. 

Winter camping shot looking out of tent entrance at snow.

Are You Looking to Camp Now?

~ Abigail Andreasen, Camping Reservations Manager

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First Day Hikes - Join Us at Select Locations on January 1

First Day Hike logo a national program of America's State Parks.

Maine State Park First Day Hikes, part of the nationwide initiative led by America’s State Parks to encourage people to get outdoors, are a combination of led and self-guided hikes, as well as virtual visits to help you kick off 2023.

Join in on the fun and start out your New Year within the beauty and solace of a Maine State Park. The Maine State Parks offering guided or self-guided activities are listed below. You can also download materials for self-guided hikes and view the virtual visits.

Guided Hike Locations

Self-guided Hike Locations

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Ski & Snowshoe Trailers Visit State Parks this Winter!

Maine State Parks ski & snowshoe trailer on site loaning gear to park visitors.

The Maine State Park Ski & Snowshoe Trailers will be visiting select parks this winter to loan equipment, free of charge, to park visitors during their visits. NOTE: Availability is subject to change due to weather & safety concerns. Please call ahead on the day you plan to visit to confirm that the trailer will be offering equipment. 



Additional February and March listings are available at our searchable online Activities & Events Calendar or download the Ski & Snowshoe Trailer flyer (PDF).

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Winter Family Fun - Take It Outside Events Are Back!

Celebrate the joys of winter by joining us at one of all of our Winter Family Fun Days - Take It Outside events. More events are being planned for February and March and will be posted on the Winter Family Fun Days-TIO! webpage.


14 - Lake St. George, Liberty
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Youth Ice Fishing Derby with the Ski & Snowshoe Trailer will be on hand so you can borrow ski and snowshoe gear - free with special event park admission: 12 & older $1.50. Under 12 & over 65 free. FMI: Call the park at (207) 589-4255.

 21 - Camden Hills State Park, Camden
10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Learn about mammal tracking and winter camping with on-site experts and displays. Borrow ski and snowshoe gear on site - free with special event park admission: 12 & older $1.50. Under 12 & over 65 free. FMI: Call the park at (207) 236-0849.

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Get Condition Alerts from Select State Parks

Did you know that you can text-to-subscribe to get updates about State Park conditions sent to you as a text message? You can also text to subscribe to snowmobile news and riding alerts, this monthly newsletter, the weekly Nature Note, and more!. View all the Bureau's topics that are available by text-to-subscribe.

A group snowshoeing into a clearing with a woodland and mountain range behind them.

International Snowmobile Safety Week: January 21-29

Three snowmobile photos: the B Pond Trail, Acadia with Winter Harbor View, and Covered Bridge "Cow's Bridge."

Snowmobiling is a fun and exciting family activity enjoyed by over 4 million people across the United States and Canada. The sport is a safe and enjoyable form of recreation if done properly and with respect.

International Snowmobile Safety Week is a good time to refresh your skills, learn from more experienced riders, and reach out to the snowmobile clubs where you ride.
Part of being safe is to be prepared. Here are some links so you'll Know Before You Go:


Safe Snowmobiling Means...

  1. Snowmobiling and alcohol don’t mix - Don’t drink and ride.
  2. Smart Riders are Safe Riders – Take a snowmobile safety training course.
  3. When night riding slow down – Expect the unexpected.
  4. Know before you go – Always check local ice and trail conditions
  5. Cross with Care
  6. Know the risks and be prepared – Make every trip a round trip
  7. One is the loneliest number – Never ride alone.
  8. Ride safe, stay on the trail – Respect private property. Take the Pledge to Preserve Access.

Tips for Riding in Mountainous Terrain

  • Be Avalanche Aware in the USA and in Canada
  • Get the Gear: Ensure everyone has an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe on their person and knows how to use them
  • Get the Training: Take an avalanche course
  • Get the Forecast: Make a riding plan based on the current avalanche and weather forecast
  • Get the Picture: If you see recent avalanche activity unstable snow exists. Riding on or underneath steep slopes can be dangerous
  • Get out of Harm’s Way: One at a time on all avalanche slopes. Don’t go to help your stuck friend. Don’t group up in runout zones.
  • Additional tips and an Avalanche Safety Video for snowmobilers.

Share your photos at the Maine Off Road Vehicles, Snowmobile & ATV Trail Programs' Facebook page.

Thank you and stay safe out there!
~ Joe Higgins, Snowmobile Program Recreational Safety and Vehicle Coordinator

(Photos top to bottom: B Pond Trail, Acadia with Winter Harbor View, Covered Bridge "Cow's Bridge")

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Ferry Beach State Park Guide & Map is Online

Beach with beachgoers at Ferry Beach State Park.

Plan your summer beach fun now by downloading the new Ferry Beach State Park Guide & Map. And, sign on to the beach alert so that you'll be ready when Ferry Beach's summer season returns. Text FERRY to 888-514-7527 to subscribe.

View the complete Text-to-Subscribe listing.

Sebago Lake Shoreline Project

Shoreline restoration work at Sebago Lake State Park with a sunset over the lake in the background.

Shoreline restoration work at Sebago Lake State Park. Photo by Troy Barry.

This month, visitors to Songo Beach at Sebago Lake State Park are watching the construction of a living shoreline project—a first-of-its-kind lake shoreline restoration project in Maine.

Due to high water levels on Sebago Lake, wave action on the park beaches has resulted in erosion. Since the 1970’s, over 100-linear feet of shoreline has been lost in some areas. To protect the park from further erosion and restore the beach, natural materials sourced from Sebago Lake State Park are being used to build structures which are engineered to capture and hold sand brought in by waves. Protecting the shoreline protects Sebago Lake as a drinking water source, a home of landlocked salmon and a place we can all enjoy.

Large tree trunks with their root wads attached being placed as part of shoreline restoration at Sebago Lake State Park.

Large tree trunks with their root wads attached being placed as part of the shoreline restoration project. Photo by Troy Barry.

The photos show some of the technical work that is being done. On site, an informational sign describes the work and has a QR code to the project webpage where photos and videos will be posted so visitors can track the shoreline restoration. View additional photos and learn more about the Sebago Lake shoreline restoration project

This project was made possible though collaborations with our project partners: Portland Water District, Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. This project was funded, in part, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

~ Owen Blease, Manager, Sebago Lake State Park with photos by Troy Barry.

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The Camp Cook - Gingerroot Tea & Tasty Ice

Canning jar of homemade ginger tea and a plate of fruit flavored ice in the shape of four owls.

Fresh ginger root makes a terrific tea any time of year but is my go-to tea in the winter because of the extra warmth of its spicy kick.

The tasty ice is a fun way to keep your cooler cold until ready to be add to hot beverages that need some cooling down or extra flavor. They can even be enjoyed as popsicles! 

Ginger Tea

  • Fresh ginger root - 1 inch section per cup of tea to be served -  peeled and sliced.
  • Water
  • Optional - your favorite winter spice. I like using nutmeg or mace.

Place the prepared ginger root in pan or kettle of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer for ten minutes. Add nutmeg or mace if you like and taste. Adjust ginger root and spices as needed. Once to your taste, remove from heat and serve. I serve some of the ginger root into each glass. Note leftover tea makes great iced tea or can be added to juices to give them a warm kick.

Tasty Ice

  • Water
  • Ice cube tray or mold (Pictured are owls made in a baking mold.)
  • Orange, peeled, sliced and sectioned
  • Cranberry - 1/4 cup - brought to boil in water, then cooled. Optional - add the water from the cranberries to the ice molds.
  • Your choice of fruit juice(s).

Pour water into ice cube molds until 1/3 full. Add prepared fruit to taste. Let it float or sink as it will. Place molds in freezer for three to fours hours. Once set, add layer of fruit juice to top it off. Or add two different juices by adding one juice, freeze, then top of with second juice and return to freezer until set.  I pack the cubes in jars or reusable bags and place them in my camp cooler to help keep other items cold, and to have on hand to add to hot or cold beverages.

~ Jocelyn Hubbell, Interpretive Specialist

Recommended Read - More Than Meets the Eye

Book cover of More Than Meets the Eye Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine by Margie Patlak.

More Than Meets the Eye: Exploring Nature and Loss on the Coast of Maine
by Margie Patlak 2021: Down East Books

As a child, Margie Patlak spent summers on Mt. Desert Island. When she and her husband moved back to the Maine coast, it was a chance for her to explore and reawaken those memories of endless wonder and curiosity in the natural world. An award-winning science writer, Patlak chronicles the cycles and forces of nature in her secluded saltwater cove and forest. In this time of discovery, she opens herself to the deep loss she recently experienced and finds meaning and understanding from the pain of losing those she held so close. Her chapter on “Fog” particularly resonated with me. As I watched the sunrise from my canoe on Dam Pond on AMC’s Katahdin Iron Works property, I found a peace that comes with separating yourself from the everyday and know that in loss, there is still a journey and discovery in me that is made more meaningful through my connections with nature.

~ Joseph Anderson, Stewardship Specialist

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Send article suggestions or newsletter comments to Jocelyn Hubbell, Interpretive Specialist, webmaster, and newsletter editor for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.