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winter Newsletter 2007

It is imposable to start without a personal note. My daughter, Ayla is two now and the need to earn a living has kept my volunteer hours way down. In addition, last winter I had a cancer removed from my nose and the recovery ate into my spare time. It seems each year death claims another friend of Tunk; Joe Maloney, J.D., Damon, and this year Butch Hunt, whose donation of artwork and canoe still sustain us. In spite of my inactivity, wheels set in motion in the past grind slowly forward.
The big story of ’07 is the completion by Maine’s Department of Conservation, Bureau of Parks and Lands, of the Downeast Region Management Plan for the public reserved lands. The Donell Pond Unit contains much of the headwaters of Tunk Stream and two eco-reserves, wild areas where only recreation and scientific study are permitted. While not a plan that states what will be done, by who, or when, the document is a very good accounting of the issues to be addressed. Hopefully it will serve as a starting point for meaningful conservation efforts and the fund raising necessary to pay for them. Much of the progress this year is interconnected with the public reserve management plan.
The Blackwoods Scenic Byway Committee has received a geo-tourism grant. This project involves taking GPS points at scenic or historic spots and putting up a small sign with a picture and text about the site and then correlating the information on a website called downeastexplorer.org. This will allow visitors to find points of interest along the Rt 182 corridor. Spring River Lake got it’s privy installed this year. The Tunk Lake boat launch, which is the center piece of the Byway Committee’s work, will get under way next year. While on the subject of Rt 182, the road work done by MDOT this year should be noted. The highway is much improved allowing for a faster rate of travel, but the shoulder that would have made the road safer for hikers and bikers never materialized. Many of the non-point source pollution sites along Rt 182 have been stabilized in the process which will protect the water quality of Tunk Stream in the years to come. The Sunrise Trail project, converting the old railroad to a multi-use trail, planned for next year may have the same effect.
The Third Weekend of the Month Hike and Paddle events of the past year suffered from poor weather and turnout. The schedule is now permanent and posted on the website. The public is welcome but should be warned that these outings are potentially self guided.
Last and not least, LONGWALKER ECO-TOURS is up and running. The roadside park and information area has been completed with a picnic table in the shade and a sign for posting the watershed map and tourist information. LONGWALKER will provide wilderness adventure support services and watershed monitor training for people who want to see environmental issues first hand. There will be good, bad, and ugly tours of the Tunk Stream Watershed, the good being the pristine wilderness hiking, paddling, and camping opportunities. The bad part of these tours is the environmental problems like erosion from non-point source pollution sites, and the ugly, the public meetings and political process necessary to change things for the better. The protected lands around Tunk Stream’s head waters are as beautiful as anyplace in the world, and the main stem of the river is still free flowing and wild. Anyone taking one of my environmental stewardship trainings will go home with an understanding of what it takes to form a watershed conservation group and protect the river or stream in their backyard.

Ashby D. Bladen 12/15/07