September 2023 Newsletter from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands

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Bureau of Parks and Lands

September 2023

In this Issue:

Director's Note: Art and Nature on the Allagash

Peter Yesis, AWW Visiting Artist 2023 giving a program at the Churchill Dam headquarters in August. Photo by Andy Cutko.

Peter Yesis, AWW Visiting Artist 2023, giving talk about his artistic process. Photo by Andy Cutko.

For centuries, artists have drawn inspiration from nature. Few places in Maine are as inspirational as the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, and my wife Kate and I recently had the privilege of hearing a talented Maine artist, Peter Yesis, describe his process of transforming Maine’s outdoors into stunning artwork in oil. Peter was the Waterway’s Visiting Artist in 2023, and he gave a thoughtful and enriching talk at the Waterway’s Churchill Dam headquarters in late August. Peter touched on the landscape painting styles of 19th-century American artists Frederic Edwin Church and Thomas Cole, noting how they influenced both the art world and early American environmentalism. He then explained his own structured process of generating art, beginning with multiple sketches and color studies before creating the final piece. Peter’s talk provided an informative ‘inside look’ into the planning, reflection, and motivation involved in one artist’s creative process.

Kate and I spent the following couple of days off the grid, enjoying a quiet Waterway in late August. Prompted by Peter’s insightful talk (and Kate’s watercolors), I found myself much more tuned in to the Waterway’s azure skies, salmon-colored sunsets, and moon-lit reflections off the water. While my own artistic inclinations peaked at about second grade, I was moved by both Peter and my surroundings to view Maine’s splendid natural world in a new light.

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

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Campground Reservations Call Center Closes for Season on September 8; Off Season & Winter Camping is Available

The State Park Campground Reservations Call Center will close for the season on Friday, September 8, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. EST. Thank you for a wonderful camping season. We hope to see you again next summer!

  • Internet Reservations will continue through to Sunday, 9/10/2023 until 4:00  p.m. EST at

Off Season & Winter Camping

*Camping season ends for the year for:

    • Peaks-Kenny: Campground closes for the year on October 1
    • Rangeley Lake: Campground closes for the year on October 1
    • Warren Island: Campground closes for the year on September 15
  • Campground rates vary by location.
  • Campground Maps.
  • No camping is permitted at the Parks from October 16 to December 14. This break allows for park maintenance of the campground areas.
  • Winter Camping, as primitive tent camping only, is offered December 15 - March 15 at select Maine State Park Campgrounds.

2024 Campground Reservation Dates for Call Center & Online Reservations:

  • Lily Bay State Park AND Sebago Lake State Park – Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 9:00 AM, EST (storm date if Maine State Government is closed – Friday, February 2, 2024)
  • All parks - Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at 9:00 AM, EST (storm date if Maine State Government is closed – Wednesday, February 7, 2024)

2024 Group Campsite and Group Picnic Shelter Reservations – for all parks

  • Thursday, February 1, 2024, at 9:00 AM, EST

Call the park-specific phone numbers for these reservations:

~ Abigail Andreasen, Campground Reservations Center Manager

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Staff in the Spotlight: Chris Silsbee

Chris Silsbee, Park Manager of Bradbury Mt. State Park

Chris Silsbee is the Park Manager of both Bradbury Mountain State Park and Mackworth Island State Park. In addition to managing these locations, he works closely with the Bureau's Public Lands division to provide stewardship of the Bradbury – Pineland Corridor, which is a trail that connects Bradbury Mountain State Park to Pineland Public Lands.

Chris is a quiet giant at Maine State Parks. He is not always the first one to speak at a meeting or planning session, but when he makes comments or suggestions, I am sure to listen. He has extensive knowledge, experience, and insight into many areas of Parks operations and maintenance. Chris is very much a go-getter. He is always looking for better ways to serve our visitors while providing good stewardship to the land. He organizes and hosts numerous large events each year including Feathers Over Freeport, 12 Hours of Bradbury, and Winter Family Fun Day, among many others. He recruits 100’s of volunteers each year to perform meaningful projects, works well with partner organizations, and is an excellent ambassador of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. Chris has been instrumental in helping to plan numerous Ranger Academies.

Park Manager Silsbee, Thank you for your leadership and all your contributions to Bradbury Mountain State Park, Mackworth Island State Park, Bradbury-Pineland Corridor, and the Maine State Parks and Historic Sites system as a whole.

When you see Chris out in the park, I hope that you will extend your thanks as well.

~ Gary Best, Southern Regional Parks Manager

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Host An Environmental Steward or Field Team in 2024!

Maine Conservation Corps volunteer team member working ocean-side. MCC photo.

Partner with Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) to support the next generation of conservation enthusiasts and professionals. For 40 years, MCC has been sending individuals and teams into communities to accomplish conservation initiatives while fostering the personal development of MCC AmeriCorps members and local volunteerism. Our Field Teams and Environmental Stewards can build your organizational capacity and realize your environmental visions.

Application Deadline: October 6, 2023   

Application materials and instructions can be found on the MCC website

Recent Environmental Steward projects include:

  • Water quality monitoring and electrofishing
  • Habitat restoration
  • Shoreline erosion control
  • Environmental Education
  • Invasive monitoring and land management planning
  • Trail inventory and assessment
  • Volunteer recruitment and engagement

Host Site Placement Options:

  • 1700 Hour Environmental Steward: January to November (fee for service $15,500)
  • 900 Hour Environmental Steward: June to November (fee for service $11,000)
Maine Conservation Corps Field Team improving trails. MCC photo.

Recent Field Team projects include:

  • Recreational trail building and maintenance
  • Boundary line maintenance
  • Invasive plant removal
  • Forest fuel reduction
  • Volunteer recruitment and management

Field Team Partnership Options:

  • 6-person Field Team ($4,500/week)
  • 3-person Field Team ($2,850/week)

~ Alina Allgyer, Field Coordinator, Maine Conservation Corps - AmeriCorps

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New Americans Experience Grafton Notch State Park

Park Manager Jen Birkemose talking with the teens about some of the mammals that live in Grafton Notch State Park. Simon Rucker photo.

Park Manager Jen Birkemose talking with the teens about some of the mammals that live in Grafton Notch State Park. Photo by Simon Rucker.

A highlight of our summer was hosting new Americans for a We Outside program at Grafton Notch State Park. The park was Trip #7 in a series of outings for the teens set up through the collaboration of Moon Machar of the Maine Association of New Americans, Simon Rucker of the Maine Appalachian Trail Land Trust, and the hosting organizations.

Jen Birkemose, Manager of Grafton Notch State Park, and I met the teens, an interpreter, Moon, and Simon at the AT Trailhead off route 26 for what had been predicted to be a fantastic sun-filled day. But the peaks of Grafton create a microclimate. The day started with thick, low clouds obscuring the peaks, a chilly breeze, and a rain-threatening sky. Full of energy and undaunted, the teens adapted to the conditions, and we made our way to Moose Cave, Mother Walker Falls, and Screw Auger Falls to hike and explore the geologic and natural wonders of the park. By the time we got to the picnic shelter at Screw Auger Falls, it was warm and sunny, and the teens were excited to swim. Read more about this and the other adventures in Simon Rucker’s postings.

~ Jocelyn Hubbell, Interpretive Specialist

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Castlebay Concert - Broadsides & Ballads - September 3

Castlebay musicians on an Autumn day. Photo courtesy of Castlebay.

Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee of Castlebay. Photo courtesy of Fred Gosbee.

Whether you're a sailor, a singer, or just a lover of New England lore, you'll love the ballads and broadsides featured in Castlebay's Labor Day Weekend concert at Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site. One concert at 1:00 p.m. and another at 3:00 p.m. Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee have spent decades researching songs, stories, and folkways from the Celtic tradition here in Maine. This concert will feature songs they have discovered and also some they have written about people and places on the Maine coast. The concert will be held outdoors on the parade ground of the fort. Rain date is Sept. 4. Free and open to the public. Bring a lawn chair or cushion. Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, 13 miles south of Damariscotta off Route 130. For more information about Castlebay please visit

Celebrate 50 Years with Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park on Saturday, September 9 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The rocky shore of Wolfe's Neck Woods with Googins Island in the background. Photo by Jocelyn Hubbell.

The rocky shore of Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park with Googins Island in the background. Photo by Jocelyn Hubbell.

Celebrate all you love about Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park with us from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2023. The event includes activities and crafts for children, games for all ages, ranger talks, and a concert. Special appearances include a children’s book reading by author Laura Lander, remembrances by the Smith family about their gift to the state of Maine, and John Bear Mitchell, a citizen of Penobscot Nation and Lecturer of Wabanaki Studies at U-Maine, Orono will present Heritage of the Land, and Storytelling, and the closing concert by Jud Caswell. The park will have a special admission fee of 50 cents per car. We extend a special thank you to the Maine Beer Company for sponsoring this event. FMI: (207) 865-4465, the park. Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park is 5 minutes from downtown Freeport on Wolf Neck Road.

The 50th-anniversary celebration of Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park continues with a concert on Sunday, September 10, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. by Maine Country Music Hall of Fame musicians Ken and Jane Brooks, Ronnie Chase, and Paul Main! Come dance on the lawn and bring a lawn chair to join us under the shelter to hear a great mix of folk, bluegrass, gospel, and classic country. This concert will take place rain or shine. Free with regular park admission rate: $1.00 for ages 5-11, $4.00 for Maine residents ages 12-64, $6.00 for nonresidents ages 12-64, $2.00 for nonresidents 65 and older; persons under 5 and Maine residents 65 and older are free. Please help us thank our sponsors, the Freeport Oyster Bar, Harraseeket Inn, and Derosier's, with your patronage.

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Programs and Events

Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle

Bradbury Mt. State Park, Pownal

Camden Hills State Park, Camden

Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, New Harbor

Grafton Notch State Park, Newry

Holbrook Island Sanctuary, Brooksville

Mount Blue State Park, Weld

Peaks-Kenny State Park – Dover-Foxcroft

Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport

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

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