Head North Ski Days on the IAT

As the winter snows settled over the North Entrance of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument and the IAT that crosses the land, not only could birds be heard chirping, but laughter and screams of excited students echoed through the forest.

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Dick Anderson’s 85th Birthday

Dick Anderson receives congratulations from John Wuestoff at his 85th birthday party.

A wonderful group of friends gathered at the old Lunt School in Falmouth, Maine Friday evening, December 13, to celebrate IAT Founder Dick Anderson’s 85th birthday and to wrap up the 25th year of the Trail. John Wasilewski and OceanView hosted and catered the party in the auditorium of the old school, which is now party of the OceanView retirement community. Long-time friend and colleague Elizabeth Swain organized the party for the IAT board, and helped insure a robust turn-out.

The party provided an opportunity to also honor former Governor Joseph Brennan, who celebrated his 85th birthday in early November. Joe met Dick in 1953 at the University of Maine at Orono, and Joe appointed Dick as his Commissioner of the Department of Conservation in 1979.

A slide show of Dick’s life and the development of the IAT played on the big screen while family, friends and colleagues from their days in government congratulated Dick and Joe, and talked about everything from fishing trips and other escapades. Former Director of the Bureau of Parks & Lands Herb Hartman was in full caucus ore with the former Director of the State Planning Office Dick Barringer and the former Governor. The room was filled with constant chatter as old friends, many who had not seen one another for a couple of decades got up to speed with one another’s lives.

IAT champion Eddie Woodin kicked off the speeches with a reminiscence of Dick’s life that hit all the high points, from the early days working for Maine Fish & Game (now Inland Fisheries & Wildlife) on salmon in Sebago Lake, to Directing the Maine Audubon Society, and six years of helping to kickstart the recycling business in Maine before heading to state government.

Dick’s party helped raise over $20,000 for the IAT, with about half heading to the endowment and the other to day-to-day operations. We are grateful for all of the warm regards and financial support as Dick and the IAT head into the new year.

Maine IAT Board Meeting

Maine IAT Board Meeting - Nov 7th, 2019

Maine IAT Board Members gathered on a cold, rainy afternoon in the warm confines of the Common Loon Pub in Orono, Maine to discuss upcoming activities in 2020.

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Walter Anderson Named Honorary Director

At the 24th annual IAT Maine meeting, President Don Hudson surprised long-time Board Member and IAT Chief Geologist Walter Anderson with a formal certificate recognizing him as an Honorary Director. Walter had decided a few months earlier that enough time, wear, and tear had passed that he should step down as an active member of the Board. We appreciate all of Walter’s efforts to teach us and anyone who encounters the trail the rich geological heritage and history of the Earth at the heart of the IAT. Walter is a great champion of our mission to think beyond borders. There is no better way to tell the story of the Atlantic Ocean than to look at the common origin of the mountains that rim the North Atlantic Ocean Basin from Alabama to Morocco. Walter’s enthusiasm for that story is contagious, and he has made geoheritage the language of the IAT.

Tour 150

Sentier NB Trail and the Fredericton Trails Coalition completed the much-anticipated ‘Tour 150’ on Saturday, August 26th, with the aim of bringing representatives of the diverse trail community in New Brunswick to one of Canada’s most trail friendly cities — Fredericton, New Brunswick — to celebrate the completion of Canada’s Great Trail. The Great Trail, envisioned over two decades ago, is the world’s longest continuous trail, tying together the east, west, and Arctic coasts of Canada in a 20,000 mile multi-use system of walkways, bikeways, ski-ways, and paddle-ways.
The International Appalachian Trail has a strong and abiding interest in the success of the trail movement in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada, as the IAT is co-located with sections of the Great Trail in all five Atlantic Canada provinces. IAT Founder Dick Anderson and IAT Maine Board Members Walter Anderson and Don Hudson traveled to Fredericton to help celebrate ‘Tour 150’ and this great day for trails in Canada.

Dick Anderson, David Peterson, Don Hudson
IAT New Brunswick leader and Sentier NB Trail Executive Director Poul Jorgenson was one of the architects of Tour 150, and he was visibly excited to see trail users arrive on the back lawn of the residence of Lieutenant Governor Jocelyne Roy-Vinneau on the banks of the St. John River in Fredericton. They arrived on horseback, on bicycles and muscle-powered scooters, by canoe and kayak, as well as by walking and running. Trail enthusiasts from the four corners of the province were summoned — piped! — to the foot of the grand staircase by a ramrod bag piper in full uniform. Four pieces of a wonderful maple puzzle were delivered, coming together to make a wonderful representation of the province and its grand network of trails. Among the several speakers who warmed up the crowd, Past-President of the Fredericton Trails Coalition and Sentier NB Trail Dave Peterson made special mention in his remarks of the early work in 1994 and 1995 on the IAT in the province. Dave was a member of the original New Brunswick IAT Committee,, and was instrumental in shaping the early vision and route for the trail in the province.

Poul Jorgenson
The IAT Maine contingent was called out by several speakers, including representatives of local and provincial government, provincial agencies, Sentier NB Trail, and the Fredericton Trail Coalition. The Chair of the Board of Sentier NB Trail Jim Fournier sought Dick, Walter, and Don out in the crowd to make a special promise that his organization was committed to completing the IAT in the province, including the original route through the northwest corner of the province and a new southern connection with PEI and Nova Scotia.
Tour 150 was a great celebration of trails in New Brunswick, and the IAT was proud to be represented.

Stars over Katahdin

The International Appalachian Trail in Northern Maine begins in the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (KWWNM). That new Monument is in the largest area of pristine night sky east of the Mississippi River. From it we see stars that few in the eastern United States can view. The Monument’s sky quality meter reading is 21.62–on a par with the remote sites selected for world-class observatories (22).
Satellite images taken at night show most of the area east of the Mississippi illuminated by light pollution (see below). The most obvious exceptions are a dark region in the middle of the Maine Woods and a smaller dark region along the coast of Maine near Acadia and Washington County. Those dark night skies are our window into the cosmos, a source of inspiration for inquiring minds, and a potential magnet for “astro tourists.”
“Stars over Katahdin,” the fourth annual event to celebrate the starry skies of the North Maine Woods, was held on the “Overlook” of the Loop Road in the KWWNM. Local amateur astronomers and Astro Volunteers from Acadia National Park participated. For three days those astronomers and others shared their expertise at local events:
John Meader (Northern Stars Planetarium) held five inflatable planetarium shows in local schools.Acadia National Park Ranger Michael Marion and his four Astro Volunteers visited area classrooms and chatted with children. Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine and board member of the Tucson-based International Dark Sky Association, gave two presentation to local town officials and business leaders. Personal visits were made to town offices near Mt. Katahdin to raise awareness of the value of our dark sky resource and its economic potential for astro-tourism in the area. Two solar viewing telescopes were set up for public viewing at the Millinocket Trail’s End Festival.
On Saturday, September 16th at KWWNM a bike and a hike event were held. In the evening, dozens of local residents attended the Campfire Chat at which the astronomers, the park ranger, ME Chapter IAT board members, and locals shared stories and magnificent views of the night sky. This was followed by telescope viewing from the “Overlook” of Saturn, star clusters within the Milky Way, and distant galaxies. Some students spent the night there in tents, courtesy of a special one-night permit. The volunteers were treated to a hearty breakfast at Lunksoos on the banks of the East Branch the following morning.
Our starry night sky is unique in the eastern United States and a resource with real value: for science education, inspiration, and environomental/astronomy tourism. And it is freely available to all. Unlike other natural resources we need not spend a dime digging it up or harvesting it. It’s all there on every clear night. This is a resource that other IAT chapters might want to consider; the IAT international meeting might want to give the night sky a place on its next agenda. We might want to talk to each other about this resource. How important is it to be able to look up to see the millions of stars when camping on a clear, dark, summer night? What can we do to protect that resource from encroaching light pollution?
What individuals can do
People around the globe are losing the night sky to light pollution that is growing at about 10% each year. Only one in four of the earth’s people can now see the Milky Way from where they live. This problem is entirely manmade: the result of over-lighting, poor fixture design, and the thoughtless placement/direction of lighting fixtures. Here are some things you can do:
Use only downward facing (fully shielded) outdoor light.Use only as much light as needed for security/safety, and put it only where you need it.If your town or power company is shifting to LED street lights, insist that they use luminaries of 3000 “kelvin” or less. These provide the warm hue favored by most people and are the least damaging to the night sky. 4000-5000 kelvin lights are sky killers.Encourage your community to adopt a sky-friendly outdoor lighting code. For an example, see the model code developed by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) and the Illumination Engineering Society (www.darksky.org).
Have a friendly talk with neighbors who have upward facing lights.