August 2023 Newsletter from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

View as a webpage  /  Share

Bureau of Parks and Lands

August 2023

In this Issue:

Director's Note: The Outdoors as Family Legacy

Andy Cutko, when a young boy, camping with his father.

Andy and his dad outside their trusted Eureka tent.

Like many who share my interests and career path, my love for the outdoors was inspired early on by family camping trips. My parents didn’t have the means for fancy resorts or hotels, so we instead packed up the family Rambler with our sleeping bags, Coleman stove, and canvas tent and headed off to Sebago Lake and Mt. Blue State Parks -- and when we became more adventurous, Baxter State Park. Decades later, my wife and I kept the family tradition by camping with our kids (despite the occasional teenage grumble about cell service and ‘forced family time’…).

While summers in Maine fly by too quickly, they are also timeless in the way childhood memories and experiences become eternally etched in our minds. Those memories came tumbling out recently as my family and friends gathered to memorialize my father, who passed away in May. Dad was the ringleader of our family camping trips -- the swim instructor, the breakfast cook, the group hike leader, and the chief campfire storyteller.

Because of my experiences growing up, I’m always heartened to see active families in our campgrounds. It’s gratifying to know that we provide a place where parents, kids, siblings, and friends can connect, refresh, recalibrate, and make their own outdoor memories. Moreover, we’re all a bit more healthy, humble, and grounded when we spend time together outdoors. So to my father and all the other outdoor ringleaders out there -- thank you; nature is nurture.

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

Top of page

Remembering Val Belanger - Live Your Best Life!

Val Belanger, Park Ranger, at Seboeis Public Land in 2019. Photo by Benjamin Clark, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Val Belanger, Ranger, at Seboeis Public Land in July, 2019. Photo by Benjamin Clark, Forest Technician, Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

With sad hearts, we say goodbye to one of our Bureau of Parks and Lands family, Val Belanger, Park Ranger for Maine Public Lands.

Val joined our Public Lands family in 2009, first as a part-time contract worker, then as a full-time seasonal employee. He loved his job immensely and every winter  waited impatiently to get back to work each spring. He was full of life and had the personality to match. No matter the job or how unpleasant, he would ensure the work was top-notch and done to the best of his ability. He maintained campsites all across the Eastern Region, from Duck Lake to Nahmakanta and everywhere in between.

Val was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer last year. He endured many rounds of chemotherapy, radiation, and procedures, all while still maintaining his duties as Recreational Ranger at BPL. Unfortunately, shortly after returning this spring, he suffered a stroke which set him back considerably. Val passed away on July 6, 2023.

As we all celebrate his life, we wish him the best on his next journey.

Happy trails Val!

~ Doug Reed, Manager, Eastern Region Public Lands

Top of page

2024 Park Passes Go On Sale August 15, 2023!

Grafton Notch State Park

The 2024 Maine State Park Pass will go on sale on August 15, 2023. It is a great deal because the 2024 Park Pass is good for the remainder of 2023 and all of 2024; that's sixteen months for the price of twelve months!

Purchase your 2024 Park Pass at a Maine State Park. View the list of participating parks and their day-use fees.

Please note that Maine State Park Passes are:

  • Not accepted at: Acadia National Park, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Baxter State Park, Maine Wildlife Park, Peacock Beach, Penobscot Narrows Observatory, Penobscot River Corridor, Scarborough Beach, the Songo Lock, or Swan Island.
  • For day-use only and does not include camping.

A Maine State Park Pass is your day-entry key to extraordinary locations and activities.

~ Abby Andreasen, Campground Reservations Manager

Top of page

Open Studio and Public Program in the Allagash by 2023 Visiting Artist Peter Yesis

Peter Yesis, AWW Visiting Artist 2023. Photo courtesy of artist.

Peter Yesis, Allagash Wilderness Waterway Visiting Artist 2023.

Peter Yesis, the AWW 2023 Visiting Artist, invites you to join him at the Allagash Wilderness Waterway to learn about his artistic process during an open studio on August 22 at the Lock Dam cabin and a program at Churchill Dam on August 26. The sessions are open to Waterway paddlers and the visiting public.

Open Studio
August 22, Lock Dam cabin, 9AM-4PM

During the open studio, Peter will discuss studies accomplished to date, methodology, materials and painting wilderness settings and water in its many expressions. 

The Lock Dam cabin is a rustic one-room cabin located at Lock Dam on the northern end of Chamberlain Lake. For 28 summers, it was the home of Dorothy Boone Kidney and her husband Milford - where they provided information to canoeists and tended the dam. Dorothy wrote two books about their life at Lock Dam. The dam is now a favorite spot for canoeists traveling the AWW, anglers, and those who are looking for a quiet retreat from our modern world. The cabin is located approximately 10 miles from the boat launch at the southern end of Chamberlain Lake and 60 miles from the nearest town, Millinocket. It does not have electricity.

Program - Taking Home the Allagash
August 26, at Churchill Dam, 2-5 PM
Peter will describe his process for identifying the scene to paint and “take home;” finding inspiration and emotion in what nature presents; structuring composition to contribute to the narrative; finding movement, contrast, the interplay of light and water, and translating sensory experience into paint. The presentation will include a short demo.

For more information about the Allagash and access to these programs, please call (207) 941-4014.

~ Mark Deroche, Superintendent of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway

Top of page

Junior Ranger Program is Available at 12 State Parks

Moose Mascot to the Maine State Park Junior Ranger Program.

Did you know that you can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet during your visit at the 12 Maine State Parks with campgrounds? Each park's Junior Ranger booklet is filled with fun activities to help you learn about the park's plants and animals, amazing history, and how you can help conserve and protect the park. Complete the activities and you'll earn a patch or pin and a Jr. Ranger certificate. If you are looking for a really fun challenge, try to become a Jr. Ranger at each of the 12 participating State Parks! 

Mount Blue State Park offers special Junior Ranger activities. Check out the park listing in the Programs and Events section below.

Programs and Events

Bradbury Mt. State Park, Pownal

Camden Hills State Park, Camden

Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, New Harbor

Lake St. George State Park

Moose Point State Park

Mount Blue State Park, Weld

Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport

Top of page

Mount Battie Road at Camden Hills State Park is Closed for Improvements

View of the ocean and islands from the top of Mt. Battie in Camden Hills State Park.

The Mount Battie Road is undergoing improvements and is closed to hikers and vehicles during the first two weeks of August for culvert placement. An alert message will be sent when the road re-opens. Subscribe to Camden Hills State Park alerts by texting CAMDEN to 888-514-7527.

Stay Informed with Park Alerts and Safety Updates

Beachgoers fill the beach at Popham Beach State Park on a typical summer day.

Get the most out of your visit by staying informed about the conditions at some of our most popular locations. You'll know when Popham Beach's parking lot is full, when construction limits access to certain park roads, and receive reminders about select park programs.

Signing up for the alerts is free and as easy as sending a text message. View all the available alerts and news subscriptions from the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

Ash Seed Collection Training

Ash seeds hanging from tree stems.

The Ash Protection Collaboration Across Wabanakik (APCAW) is excited to announce two upcoming training sessions about ash seed collection. Seed is already appearing on ash trees across the region (especially green ash), and we invite you and your community to participate in the ash seed harvest this August and September. Collecting ash seeds creates the possibility for ash forest regeneration which ensures that Wabanaki communities and all communities can continue to have a relationship with this tree into the future. 

We are offering one virtual introduction that will answer the question, Why Collect Ash Seed? followed by a three hour, in person training on seed collection methods and tools. We have an exciting group of seed collection experts presenting during these workshops, including Les Benedict of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in upstate New York and representatives from the Wild Seed Project in Southern Maine. Please see below for details and registration links.

Why Collect Ash Seed?
Register // Read more.
August 7th: Virtual training 1-2:30 pm.
The virtual session will explore the question, why is it important to collect ash seeds? Attendees will leave with an understanding of how collecting ash seeds can help provide a future for ash trees in Northeastern forests.

Ash Seed Collection Training
Register // Read more.
September 12th: In person training 1-4 pm. U-Maine Orono.
This event will be limited to 40 registrants.
This session will train participants in how to identify and collect ash seeds according to the Ash Seed Collection Manual developed by Emily Francis. We will take a trip into the field to demonstrate the process and introduce participants to all of the necessary gear. Session leaders will also show how to prepare and clean ash seeds for shipment or storage. Participants are required to either attend or stream the August 7th training session in order to participate.

~ Ella McDonald
On behalf of the APCAW team

Top of page

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

Read back issues of the newsletter.