February 2023 Newsletter from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

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Bureau of Parks and Lands

February 2023

In this Issue:

Director's Note - Maine Won't Wait, and Maine Can't Wait

Waiting for Winter - Andy Cutko in muddy field during mid-January with xc-ski in one hand and snowshoe in the other.

Waiting for Winter, mid-January

With the worst of the pandemic behind us (fingers crossed!), 2023 was supposed to be the year things got back to normal. But as I write this, on January 26, I’m watching another mild morning of rain eat away at the snowpack – a snowpack that only recently arrived. The University of Maine identified winter as our fastest warming season, and we’ve lost a full three weeks of winter in the past century. In a state where snow is an elemental part of our outdoor economy and winter logging activity, our dwindling winter is a significant cause for concern. 

Snow cover also plays a vital role in our natural world. For farmers, snow helps insulate the ground by avoiding ‘winter kill’ during the bitter cold. While a snowy landscape may seem quiet and devoid of life, recent research into the ‘subnivium’ (the insulated pocket beneath the snowpack) suggests that deep snow allows ground temperatures to stay just above freezing, creating a microclimate that is markedly different from the world above. The subnivium minimizes impacts on plants and allows small mammals to forage and even reproduce. As Jonathan Pauli, a wildlife professor at the University of Wisconsin, said, “There’s a lot of action going on, it’s just invisible to us.”

For those who love winter, climate trends are a call to action. The 2020 Maine Won’t Wait Climate Action Plan outlines several strategies across many sectors to help Maine become more resilient in a changing world. Winters like this, and days like today, highlight how important this climate work really is. 

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

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Camping Reservations Opening Day is February 1

Summertime woodland campsite with coffee and hotdogs on the grill and a dome tent in the background.

Book your summer solace!

Book your summer solace! Camping reservations begin in February. Check out the State Park Campgrounds on the campground maps page where you can print campground maps and view campsites on Google Earth. 

Please note the two reservation start dates: 2/1 and 2/6, and the separate reservation process for the Group Camping and Picnic Shelter reservations that also begin on 2/1. Minimum and maximum stay reminders are listed at the bottom of this article.

On Wednesday, February 1 at 9:00 a.m. EST*:

  • Campground Reservations Opens for:
    • Lily Bay State Park and Sebago Lake State Park on Wednesday, February 1 at 9:00 a.m. EST*
    • Sebago Lake State Park requires a minimum 4-night stay if you make your reservation during February for the camping season.
    • Online Reservations and reservation information is at www.Camp WithME.com 
    • *Storm Date if Maine State Government is closed - Thursday, February 2, 2023.

On Monday, February 6 at 9:00 a.m. EST**

Reminders about Number of Nights/Minimum and Maximum Stay:

Minimum Stay

  • Sebago Lake State Park requires a minimum 4-night stay if you make your reservation during February for the camping season.
  • Weekend Minimum Requirement Friday & Saturday 2 night stay
  • When booking a reservation on or after July 1, a 1-night minimum stay is available, including weekends, at all parks.

Maximum Stay

  • 14 nights per person, per State Park from the last Saturday in June through 3rd Saturday in August.

~ Abigail Andreasen, Campground Reservations Manager

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Reconstruction of Reid State Park's Griffith Head bridge and entrance begins in February

Construction equipment ready to begin on improvements to the Griffith Head bridge at Reid State Park.

Equipment at the ready to start construction on the Griffith Head bridge.

Visitors to Reid State Park should expect closures as construction begins on Griffith Head bridge and the entrance booth. Improvements to Reid and other State Parks are supported by funding through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan.

Construction is set to start as soon as Wednesday, February 1. The park gate will be closed during construction, and visitors may park on the roadside outside the gate, being careful not to block the entrance, and walk into the park. Visitors are asked to be cautious around the construction sites. Park users can text REID to 888-514-7527 to receive condition alerts. 

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Artists - Get Inspired by the Allagash Wilderness Waterway this Summer! Apply Now to Become the 2023 Visiting Artist

Allagash Wilderness Waterway - Umsaskis sunrise by Steve Day.

Create in the vast Allagash Wilderness Waterway for two weeks. Apply by February 6 for the opportunity to be the Allagash Wilderness Waterway 2023 visiting artist.

Unique for its emphasis on solitude and the self-reliance required of the artist, the program is an exceptional opportunity to spend two weeks at historic Lock Dam Camp.

Visual artists of all mediums are encouraged to apply. Visit the program webpage to hear from past program artists, review the program details, and access the application portal

Applications are needed by Monday, February 6, at the end of the day.

~ Mark Deroche, Superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway


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Is That Ice Safe? Don't Go Unless You Know!

Child ice fishing.

Given the highly variable weather Maine has endured so far this winter, please use extra caution and stay off all ice until you know it is safe. Learn how to inspect ice at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's Winter Ice Safety Tips page.

Use caution on winter trails too as many are ice covered or have unseen ice under a layer of snow, both of which make for slippery conditions. Stay aware - text to subscribe to park conditions and news.

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Events & Winter Camping

Old Speck Mountain with Maine AT Land Trust Community Hikers.

February 4 - Old Speck Hike - The highest peak in the Mahoosucs! Great snowshoe hike in an area with deep snowpack. A long one but definitely worth it! This is a courtesy listing of a Maine A.T. Land Trust Community Hike. This guided hike is free and lasts from 8:30 to 4:30 pm; a challenging but awesome hike! You must RSVP by emailing info@matlt.org or calling 207-808-2073. Read all details at Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust.

Maine State Park ski & snowshoe trailer.

Ski & Snowshoe Trailers are Visiting Maine State Parks

Equipment from the trailer is free, on loan during your visit, with paid park admission. It is a great way to try out cross-country skiing or snow shoeing without investing in equipment, or for those who want to be free of hauling their own equipment to the park. View the Ski & Snowshoe Trailer schedule. To search for upcoming events by month or location view the online event calendar.

Winter camping setup in the snowy woods.


Winter Camping

Hone your camping skills at a Maine State Park campground during the winter - sites available until March 15 at select locations. Watch a winter camping video and get all the details.


For Teens - Winter Tracking Program on February 14

Cat track. WHEP photo rotated.

This tracking program for teens is hosted by the Maine Wildlife Habitat Education Program

When: February 14th, 2023, from 9:30 am-12:30pm
Where: Mount Blue State Park Headquarters – Weld, Maine
Who Can Attend: Any High School Student!
Cost: Free, but pre-registration required (details below)
What to Bring: A bag lunch, a camera and tape measure if you have one, snowshoes let us know if you don’t have access to snowshoes, we may have a few loaner pairs on first come, first serve basis
Snow Date: February 15th. If cancelled due to conditions or school closure.

Teens on hike in the winter. WHEP photo.

Planned Activities:

  • 9:30-10 am -- Welcome session, introductions, and light refreshments
  • 10-11:30 am - Nature walk and winter track ID featuring several Maine wildlife biologists.
  • 11:30-noon – Warm-up near the fire and explore skins, skulls, and tracks of Maine’s wildlife
  • 12-12:30 pm – Wrap-up and information session about the Maine WHEP program.


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Defending the Dark on Maine Public TV - January 26 & 28

Watch Defending the Dark on Maine Public TV this Thursday, January 26, at 9:00 pm or this Saturday, January 28, at 2:00 pm. The Bureau of Parks and Lands was pleased to be a partner in this project. For a preview, watch the Defending the Dark trailer at darkskyfilm.com. Listen to the archived Maine Calling discussion about preserving dark skies with filmmaker Tara Roberts Zabrinski, and film project partners. The film was funded in part through a grant by the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.

Defending the Dark film title slide.

Welcome Clint DeMusz

Clint DeMusz, Forester with the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands is pleased to welcome Clint DeMusz as a Forester within the Northern Region Public Lands. In this role Clint will join a team that ensures sustainable forest management on Maine's Public Reserved Lands. 

Clint graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with an AS in Forest Management and got his start in forest and habitat management through an internship with the Pennsylvania Game Commission Bureau of Habitat Management. There he identified and mapped invasive species, and worked on prescribed fire operations. He later joined the Seven Islands Land Company as an operations forester in northern Maine and continued his work with prescribed fire, conducting burns in research areas with the Maine Adaptive Silvicultural Network and Cooperative Forestry Research Unit.

Habitat management is a key interest of Clint's. Restoring pollinator and early successional bird habitat is a particular focus area. He is currently restoring an old potato farm with hedgerows/pollinator strips and an organic apple orchard. Clint's other passion is upland bird hunting with his English setters.

~ Jacob Guimond, Northern Region Public Lands Manager

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Become a Lifeguard - Train Now with Maine State Parks

Lifeguard Training Course photo

Our Maine State Park Lifeguard Coordinator, Sean Vaillancourt, will be leading American Red Cross Lifeguard Courses this winter. Use the certificate to become a Maine State Park lifeguard, and the Bureau of Parks and Lands will reimburse the certification expense at the end of the 2023 season. Learn more by calling Sean at 207-557-2391 (cell phone) or 207-389-1335 (office), or emailing Sean.M.Vaillancourt@maine.gov.

Show Your Love for Maine State Parks

Maine State Park t-shirts and hats on sale online.

Gear up with Maine State Parks apparel and consider gifting it to your loved ones this February to show your love for the iconic parks for which Maine is renowned. Hoodies, t-shirts and caps in a variety of colors are available at our online store.

Recommended Read: Prospects Mining Maine for Riches - A Novel Richard W. Spencer

Book cover of the novel Prospects Mining Maine for Riches by Richard W. Spencer

Many know of the quarries along the coast that supplied fine granite for city monuments and museums from New York to Chicago. But few know of the countless small pegmatite mines that dotted the country landscape across Maine. Set during the boom and bust mining years of the late 1800s, Richard Spencer’s book, Prospects, Mining Maine for Riches, follows Clarence Potter’s footsteps chasing fortune for himself and his family mining mica, feldspar, and tourmaline in the foothills of western Maine. Spencer gives a glimpse into rural Maine life at the time and readers will find familiar names and places throughout the book.

To learn more about this fascinating history, including a virtual tour of Maine geology, visit the online educational resources by the Maine Geological Survey.

Look for the summertime weekly gold panning demonstrations at Mount Blue State Park and learn how you can try your hand at it in Coos Canyon.

There are even opportunities to try your own hand at prospecting at Lord Hill and Deer Hill Mineral Collecting Areas, part of the White Mountain National Forest in Stoneham and Stow. 

~ Joseph Anderson, Stewardship Specialist

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The Camp Cook - Quinoa Cereal

Bowl of homemade quinoa cereal with nuts and fruit.

1/3 cup ground quinoa (quinoa meal) mixed with a dash of both
cinnamon and cardamom, and
1 teaspoon of coconut sugar
Dried Cranberries
Pecans or walnuts

You can mix all these ingredients in a zip lock to carry it all portioned out and ready to cook on the trail, or you can leave the nuts and dried fruit separate.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil, stir in mixture of quinoa, spices, and sugar and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Top with nuts and dried fruit, and serve.

~ Kristin Anderson, Outdoor Recreation Planner

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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.