Category Archives: June 20

Hiking Frye Mountain to Port Clyde: Working to fulfill a dream

Les Hyde and trail stewards.

Les Hyde and trail stewards.

In the late 1980s, Les Hyde had only just returned from a sabbatical year spent studying English conservation policy firsthand, when he found himself addressing a gathering of the then fledgling Georges River Land Trust about what he had learned.

“I went to England because I was looking for ways to keep our beautiful midcoast beautiful — about how to stop development,” says Hyde, who recently retired after more than 30 years as Professor of Forestry and Environmental Education with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. “The English had instituted a public planning act after World War II that gave county governments a lot of power to limit development if it threatened National Parks and ‘areas of outstanding beauty.’”

Hyde points out that the English law capitalized on the fact that the country’s urban population had survived destruction of the country’s transportation infrastructure in large part because farms were so close to the city — so retaining ‘green belts’ of open land and farms between towns was at that time an acknowledged value.

But Hyde was also impressed by the conservation role played by the well-used 25,000 miles of footpaths lacing through the British countryside. “I told the Land Trust audience that if people are going to love the land and want to protect it, they’ve got to get out into it,” he recalls.

So he made a proposal: “Let’s make a footpath from Frye Mountain in Searsmont  all the way to Port Clyde,” basically the full length of the Georges River watershed.

David Getchel took the idea — at first blush merely a fantastic dream — and ran with it, creating what is today the 40-mile Georges River Highland Path.

“We didn’t have an ancient rights-of-way heritage to build on like they have in England,” Hyde notes, “so Dave created a ‘good will’ policy in which property owners could agree to let the path cross their land unless and until their good will was abused.”

Getchel was aided in his efforts by Maine law, which provides limited liability protection for landowners who allow recreation.

Continuing the watershed footpath into St. George is the next step in realizing Hyde’s original proposal.

“The first trail down here was in the town forest,” Hyde points out. This loop can be accessed from the Kinney Woods Road. Then came the good will agreement for a trail across the Skogland property to link the spring at Wiley’s Corner with state-owned Fort Point on the St. George River, the site of a fort built in 1809 to protect river commerce.

“For many years Fort Point was inaccessible except by water,” Hyde recalls. “I would take Tanglewood campers there by canoe. It was a very secluded spot.”

Currently the Land Trust and the St. George Conservation Commission are collaborating on creating the Jones’ Brook Trail, which would link Fort Point to the town forest. Other projects are also in the works. Progress is slow, but just about 25 years since Hyde, Getchel and their many conservation-minded partners and friends started working on ways for people to get out into the watershed, it is clear the dream remains alive and well. —JW

St. George Ambulance promotes Community Health

F&A_logo_editedbyGI copyYou know them—the friends and neighbors who come when a crisis occurs, members of the ambulance service.

The St. George Volunteer Ambulance Association has been responding to emergencies since 1956.  And throughout most of those years, the service has done so as a group of volunteers.  But emergency medicine has become increasingly sophisticated, and many people in St. George have expressed the desire that a paramedic always be on duty.  So now, the service has altered its model to include both volunteer basic EMTs and drivers along with paid paramedics.

This new incarnation provides residents not only the reassurance of knowing a paramedic is there if needed, but also it has allowed the service to expand its offerings.  This summer, the service officially rolls out its “Community Paramedicine” program, one element of a broad-ranging Community Health initiative, which includes a host of educational activities aimed at different audiences.  Monthly awareness campaigns (diabetes, heart health, etc.), CPR certification workshops, child seat safety demonstrations, and safe home inspections, among other activities, are being conducted.

Many kinds of home health care are also within the purview of the Community Health providers.  For example, they are able to help patients with dressing changes when they come home after surgery, and do vital sign monitoring for individuals with chronic conditions.

Paramedic Adrian Stone and EMT Rick O'Malley

Paramedic Adrian Stone and EMT Rick O’Malley check the jump kit.

Candy Davis, one of the two full-time paramedics here in St. George, is in charge of the new Community Health initiative.  She noted that “St. George Ambulance has been providing emergency services to the people of St. George for nearly 60 years. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life and health of our citizens and visitors.”

These new services, she said, are possible because the Ambulance Service has been chosen by the state of Maine as a pilot program.  They have targeted the specific needs of this community in developing new program ideas.

The Community Paramedics have completed extensive additional training to prepare for their role, but there is an important part to be played by EMTs as well.  With all the additional services that St. George Ambulance is trying to make available, the need for EMTs continues to grow.

A Citizen Opportunity

Beginning on July 25th, and running through October 26th, the Ambulance Association will be offering an EMT training course here in St. George.  It will be held on Monday and Thursday evenings, with a few Saturday sessions as needed.  Additional information about this course is available from Adrian Stone, the EMS Director  (  The course must have twelve students enrolled to run.  Stone stresses that the course is of value even to people who might not be sure they want to become EMTs.  The skills it teaches can truly save lives.  And the confidence you gain from knowing that you can do something to help in an emergency is profound.

— Margot Kelley

Port Clyde photo project finds audience in France

Antonia Small 2

Antonia Small

When Antonia Small asked Glenn Libby in 2009 if he and the other fisherman at Port Clyde Fresh Catch would mind if she began taking photographs of them at work, she didn’t know it would lead to a solo show of the photographs four years later—in France. Called ‘Song for the Sea,’ the show appeared this past February at the Maison Folie Beaulieu, a community arts center, in Lille, France, a city near France’s border with Belgium. The center’s director, Nicolas Ammeux, heard about Small’s photographic project from Small’s friend, Esther Mollo, who had been collaborating long-distance with Small on a theater piece as part of her work at the theater company coincidentally based at the center.

“He had been interested in doing a show about fishing,” Small explains, so he asked to see some of the work. “Bringing images of Maine fishermen to France provided a way for conversation about what’s happening on the coast both here and there — a way to talk about the fact that there are fewer and fewer fish, about the impact of small versus large boats going out, about the fact that costs are often greater than the returns.”

The story she presented in the Lille show, she says, “started about the groundfishing,” but also included an image of Trap Day on Monhegan.


PHOTO: Antonia Small

“It interested me that Monhegan lobstermen work together as a community,” she says. “I guess I’m just interested in the threat of a way of life disappearing and the people who are trying to save it. I wanted to paint an atmosphere of a place, asking who are the kinds of people who live here, how does the sea affect their daily lives.” With images of a funeral service aboard the ‘Laura B,’ of a baptism at Drift Inn beach and of a multi-generational fishing family enjoying a game of cards, Small tries to offer some of the answers.

Small, who since 2006 has lived on Horse Point Road in Port Clyde, says that the idea of photographing the Fresh Catch fishermen and their community was inspired by Daring to Look, a 2009 book about Dorothea Lange’s documentary photographs that presented never-before-published images of squatter camps, struggling farmers and landscapes from Lange’s fieldwork in California, the Pacific Northwest and North Carolina  during 1939. Although Small enjoys exploring the artistic side of photography (something she pursued in the professional certificate program at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport), she’s had a longtime interest in documentary photography as well, having studied at the Salt Center for Documentary Studies in Portland, Me. One approach has an experimental edge achieved in Small’s case by using pinhole cameras, the other intensely scrutinizes the world-as-it-is, accomplished by using a detail-capturing twin-reflex lens.

“The show [in Lille] felt like a combination of the two,” she reflects. “I tend to like to mix things up, which isn’t always done.”

St. George’s Mars Hall Gallery will be including Small’s photographs in a multi-media show called ‘Black & White’ which runs June 21 through July 21. “I’ll be drawing on the French show for the Mars Hall Gallery show,” Small promises, “but it will be a different edit.”

A different edit perhaps, but for many of those here in St. George who will see familiar scenes, places and activities in these images, it will for sure be something deeply personal. —JW
(The Mars Hall Gallery is located at 621 Port Clyde Road (Route 131) just before the turn-off for Drift Inn beach. An opening reception for ‘Black & White’ will be held June 21, 5-8pm. Gallery hours are Wed. through Sun. 10-5)

Marshall Point Fish Puffs

marshall point web1 T butter
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
2 T onion, grated
2 T flour
1/4 tsp savory
1/4 tsp thyme
pinch cayenne
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C cream
3/4 C crabmeat
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2 lb flounder fillets
1/2 C buttered bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter about 8 muffin cups. In small saute pan, melt butter and stir in mushrooms and onion. Saute until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and seasoning, mixing well. Add cream and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in crab and 1 T lemon juice. Set aside.

Coil fish fillets in  muffin cups and fill the centers with the crab mixture. Drizzle with remaining lemon juice and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, top with buttered bread crumbs and return to oven until the crumbs are golden. —BTW

World War II constables

ConstablesWith the outbreak of World War II, “community Civil Defense Councils worked out plans for emergency defense strategies.” [see Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, University of Maine Press, 1995, p. 527] According to James Skoglund of the St. George Historical Society, nineteen St. George men were appointed constables early in the war to defend St. George in case of attack. With the help of Granville Bachelder, these men focused, in part, on locations to intercept spies or saboteurs.

Photo courtesy of St. George Historical Society

Spawn-ready alewives get helping hands

St. George middle-schoolers pass dip nets full of alewives into the marsh.

St. George middle-schoolers pass dip nets full of alewives into the marsh.

Basically, it was an old-fashioned bucket brigade. Only instead of trying to put out a fire, the St. George middle-schoolers were trying to restore an ecosystem.

With the help of Maine’s Department of Marine Resources this past May 30, the students were passing  dip nets full of spawn-ready alewives from one to another down a slope until at last the fish could be dumped into the town marsh. Using this method, about 1,500 of them made it into the marsh that day.

Alewives, members of the herring family, spend the majority of their lives at sea, but return to fresh water to spawn. There used to be an abundance of them swarming up Maine’s rivers and fish ladders in pursuit of spawning grounds, but the alewife population has become severely depleted over the past two centuries because of dams, pollution and overfishing. Conservationists have been campaigning to reverse the fishery’s decline in recent years because these small fish are a key part of the marine food chain.

“Both adult and juvenile alewives are small and are therefore eaten by many other species of native, introduced, commercially and recreationally important fish,” notes a fact sheet put out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “In freshwater, alewives are food for large- and smallmouth bass, brown trout and other salminds. In the estuaries and the ocean, striped bass, cod and haddock feed on alewives and the recovery of these economically valuable fish depends, in part, on restored populations of alewives. In addition, lobstermen depend on alewives; they are the traditional spring bait for lobsters.”

Alewives wouldn’t need the help of middle-schoolers and the state to return to the Tenants Harbor marsh if the culvert which runs under the road between Ripley Creek and the marsh weren’t preventing them, says  Jean Hewitt, chair of the St. George Conservation Commission.

“There used to be a run here prior to the old flat bottomed stone culvert being replaced in the 1970s with a large corrugated pipe or pipes,” she explains. “Those pipes are mis-aligned somewhere under Main Street creating a ‘hung culvert.’ Since alewives can’t jump, though they are strong and energetic, they more or less crawl or flop their way upstream through rough water. It’s why the steps in a fish ladder are limited to a certain height — too big a step and they can’t make it. There seems to be too-big a step inside our culvert.”

The good news, Hewitt says, is that there are plans afoot to replace the culvert. “The Maine Department of Transportation has completed geologic tests, drafted initial plans and will almost certainly replace the old culvert with a new fish-friendly one this fall — or maybe next fall.” —JW

For more information see the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “All About Maine Alewives” fact sheet at

Planning perennial gardens

perennial columnThere are many challenges in putting together a perennial garden. The climate, of course is dominant. But then heights of plants, bloom times, longevity, how things look when they are not blooming, color, texture, the site itself: All of these variables come into play — which, of course, keeps the process interesting.

I tend to like perennials that look good all season, or at least for a long time. Baptisia is a great anchor, especially the ‘Prairie Smoke’ variety that doesn’t get floppy like the species tends to. Actea—formerly known as Cimicifuga, also called Bugbane—is another great plant, with interesting foliage, followed by tall spiky cream-colored flowers later in the season. Amsonia (Blue Star Flower) is a good one, with steel blue flowers in June, followed by neat foliage with interesting seed pods, turning bright yellow in the fall. Patrina (just called Patrina as far as I know) is a little-known plant with crinkled, low green foliage, soft yellow flowers and creamy seed heads the finish the season. All of the heucheras, with their clean and colorful foliage are fun additions to the front of the border, giving flecks of maroon or peach or bronze or silver that persist all summer.

But then there are the plants I just have to have as part of a garden that come and go, but generally come again. Perennial foxglove is one I love for it’s soft yellow flowers. After it blooms, there’s a hole in the border because I cut it back for a second bloom in August. But it’s worth it. Hopefully I’ve got something interesting going on nearby to distract the eye while the plants recover. The same thing with meadow sage, though I am finding that the Cardonna variety can bloom a very long time without being cut back the way some of the older types such as May Night should be. Even the giant ornamental rhubarb that dominates the June border can be cut back when its leaves get too tatty and bug-eaten, and it will send out neater new leaves in time.

I figure that if I have enough structural plants in a garden, that is, ones that last and give the eye a place to rest, the others can dance around and be capricious if that is their inclination. That —and paying attention to color—is about as much planning as I usually do in the garden as I like to be surprised and delighted by how the beds evolve.

— Anne Cox (Cox is co-owner of Hedgerow in Martinsville.)