Letters to the Editor
Readers respond to "Where in Maine?" and other articles.
Criehaven is a wonderful refuge for children and adults if you can survive without electricity and indoor plumbing and are hearty enough to fetch your own water from the community well. Most cruising folks pass Ragged Island by, opting for the straight, inshore course Down East. It is a welcoming place to those who venture out this far to enjoy the tranquility and, as one resident explains, to re-stack your marbles. The lobstering community of ten fishing families are its main residents and the others have tenure. Those lucky enough to be part of this wonderful community appreciate and respect its simplicity and beauty.
For those of us who love Elisabeth Ogilvie’s Bennett’s Island series of novels, Criehaven is almost a mythical place, evoking a time and style of life now lost. In addition, Criehaven seems ephemeral and unreachable, I think, because, without public transit, it is difficult even to go there physically. It is, indeed, a place far away. But through Ogilvie’s sensitive depiction of character, time, and place, I can almost see the lobster car in the harbor and Nils Sorensen’s Joanna S. rounding the ledges off Sou’west Point.
Thank you for mentioning the Maine Conservation School in your May “Editor’s Note” as deserving of the thirtieth annual Down East Environmental Award. We are honored. We also feel honored by the selection of Edmund Muskie as the recipient of this award. In 1956, Governor Muskie was instrumental in the creation of the Maine Conservation School as the state’s first facility aimed at youth conservation education. Now, fifty-two years later, as part of the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, the Bryant Pond 4-H Camp & Learning Center is still carrying forth the founding vision of Edmund Muskie.
4-H Camp & Learning Center
Bryant Pond, Maine
Crossing the Dam
Jeff Clark’s June story about the Fort Halifax Dam in Winslow missed a couple of key elements. First, the Fort Halifax Dam in Winslow is not a barrier to upstream sea run fish passage. Since 2000, the dam has served as a key asset in allowing the returning alewives to be captured and trucked to upstream lakes and ponds. Most of the upstream dams did not have fish passage until 2006. The West Branch dams in Pittsfield still do not have passage as do many of the lakes. While some talk of the return of the American shad, the actual capture rate at the Waterville dam is only a fraction of what was forecasted.
But the real story is what the article failed to mention. FPL Energy asserted in 2001 that the required fish lift would cost too much, but they would be willing to sell the dam if only a buyer would come forward. In the interim years, the actual cost of the fish lifts installed on other dams have proven to be significantly less than FPL Energy’s estimate, electricity prices have more than doubled, and a qualified buyer came forward in 2007 willing to install the required fish lift. But it turns out that FPL Energy will only sell the dam if the Kennebec Coalition agrees. And, you guessed it, the Kennebec Coalition will not agree. So FPL Energy still wants to remove the dam and pass the costs onto the people of Winslow while destroying a 417-acre lake.
But here is the really important part. That “paltry 1.8 megawatts” of renewable energy displaces 548,000 gallons of oil a year and avoids the emissions of 6,300 tons of carbon dioxide. At the current price of oil, the Fort Halifax Dam offsets oil usage that is worth $1.6 million per year. The tax base value of the dam results in the town receiving $27,000 in taxes per year. It is unfortunate that FPL Energy and the Kennebec Coalition are forcing such a negative economic and environmental impact on the people of Winslow. The town would not have incurred the legal expenses if FPL Energy had sold the dam.
Loving the Lakes
Loved your June lakes issue, particularly the write-up on Cold Stream Pond in the “Jump Right In!” article. I grew up in Lincoln in the ’50s and early ’60s, and we spent the summers at our camp on Cold Stream. We were about a hundred yards walk from Morgan’s Beach. I can still remember the taste of the French fries and fried clams served in the cartons similar to the ones used for Chinese takeout. There was also a little pond behind the bathhouses that we called the frog pond, where we’d catch frogs and polliwogs.
My wife’s family owns a cottage on Casco Bay near Sebasco and we spend summers with family and friends in what we know is the best place on earth. Like so many others, we plan on retiring in Maine. In the past several years I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the quality of Down East, and during the last two years I’ve also started reading your “Editor’s Note.” After reading your June column, I found myself dreaming of when I was a young boy fishing in streams and ponds near Brunswick — a very nice break from my long day. I think I’ll take a road trip this summer to see if my childhood cottage is still unchanged — I hope so. I can’t help to think how fortunate we are that certain people had the foresight to pass legislation that limits some of the unrestricted growth that we see in other parts of the U.S.
Princeton, New Jersey
Nonresidents of Kittery are no longer allowed to park in either of the two lots near Seapoint Beach (“Hidden Beaches,” July 2008) from May 15 until October 1. The signs were changed after our issue went to press. Down East regrets this change, but reminds its readers that walking or bicycling continues to be a wonderful way to reach this southern Maine strand.