Vaughn C. Hardacker here: Earlier this month my partner Jane and I decided to fire up the ATV and embark on our annual Leaf Peep Excursion into the north Maine woods. I would like to say that this years experience was entirely positive but I can’t. The foliage is (as you read this) most likely past peak now, but on the day we took our ride, we always travel the trails that lead to the Fish River Chain of lakes…more specifically Cross and Long Lakes. We usually end up having a meal at Lakeview Restaurant in St. Agatha (If you aren’t familiar with this part of the world, it is pronounced A-Gat ) while we looked at the panoramic view of Long Lake.
The foliage was great and the recent rains had cut the trail dust so much that it was not discernable. The sun was bright, the temperature in the high 60’s, low 70’s, and the wind was calm. The sun shining on the leaves emphasized the colors making it a truly enjoyable run–well, almost. It never ceases to amaze me the work nature has put into ensuring our woodland has a colorful wardrobe before settling down for a long winter’s sleep.
I have been told that there is only one other area on Earth that experiences the autumn colors of New England and it’s in China.
There is particular area that I have always enjoyed. A beautiful hardwood ridge that was possibly one of the most serene places I have ever encountered.
I was all set to slow down and spend some time here. You can imagine how I felt when this is what I found. I have seen what was left after a B-52 Arclight took place in Vietnam. An Arclight is when the huge bombers would drop a continuous line of 500 pound bombs on an area. For instance, the line would start at the base of a mountain, climb the mountain, descend on the other side, cross a valley and go up the next mountain, again, and again, and again.
You can believe me when I say that the devastation was nowhere near this bad. The other thing that lights a three-foot fire under my butt is that this annihilation of our wood lands is being done by a company that isn’t even headquartered in our country, let alone our state. Maine does, however, award them the rights to cutting any and all timber. Don’t let someone from Irving catch you cutting a live Christmas tree without their permission. I’ve heard several people say, “But, they plant new trees.”
Really? Here’s what I know. They do plant, but they plant pine and spruce–evergreens–not deciduous trees that provide us with our beautiful mix of colors. It is conceivable that by the time my great-grand children reach my age, fall foliage could be their generation’s dinosaur–something they hear about but have never seen. The only place left will be China–maybe. Our woodlands will be entirely comprised of evergreen trees. I’m not even going to get into the impact that will have on the creatures that make their home there.
I’ve been seeing the recent ad blitz about preposition 1 and the CMP power line project. It does not matter what we the people of Maine want…it matters how much money will be spent ensuring that our legislators vote in the company’s favor. When I was a teenager the Army Corps of Engineers wanted to build a dam on the Allagash River (Called the Dickey-Lincoln Project). Upon completion of the dam the town of Allagash was projected to be under 300 feet of water (or so rumor had it). That project and the CMP project have one thing in common…every kilowatt of power created will go to Massachusetts. What does Maine get? SCREWED! Pardon my language, but I for one am sick and tired of the way that our government (local, state, and national) plays favorites. What might one ask is the determining factor between the favorites and those excluded? Votes. Massachusetts, when compared to Maine, is a wealthy highly populated state. Guess who the favorite is.
Why is the deforestation of our planet important? Let’s think about the global perspective. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during the daylight hours and expel oxygen during night hours. In doing research for a novel I am currently writing, I came across an eye-opening statistic. The largest forest on Earth is the Amazon in Brazil. I’ve seen statistics that say the Amazon alone creates five percent of the world’s oxygen that is one-twentieth of all the oxygen in the world. What has been happening for several decades? The Amazon has been under attack from loggers, miners, and farmers. The government of Brazil was giving free land in the Amazon Basin to anyone who would clear the land and plant crops. The problem is that when these peasant farmers tried to raise crops they quickly learned that all the soil was good for was being a forest. So what did they do? They abandoned the land they’d just cleared and moved on to destroy another section of forest. This is taking place in tropical rainforests around the world.
In closing. Of late we’ve all heard about climate change. There is a lot of debate about how to address it. In our country it’s in vogue to attack certain industries i. e. coal. I’m not saying that they don’t contribute, but is our government penalizing us when other industrialized countries are as much, if not more, responsible. Remember the pictures of the atmosphere in the Beijing Olympics. Anybody have a clue about what the Chinese government is doing to address the problem? It has also been said: The Amazon rainforest is where the Earth sweats. (Maybe there’s a clue here about how to truly solve global warming.)
I think maybe it’s time that we, the people took matters in hand. How? Vote out the life-time politicians who only serve to become rich and put term limits on every public office. I have never been a proponent of term limits, but the American electorate has proven time and time again that they are unwilling to do the homework required to make an intelligent decision in the ballot booth. Instead, they vote the way that news commentators tell them on TV. As a result, they keep voting in the same corrupt people (that goes for both political parties) for whom a political office is nothing more than a means to achieve wealth and hold power. Ask yourself: What has ant elected official done for me lately–or forever…
Well said, Vaughn. We live in Wallagrass, our property backs up to Ben Lake and we have heard rumors that the area is on the schedule for cutting in 2022. There’s lots of small tract cutting going on in the neighborhood. The character of Route 11 has changed in the past few years, and as for replanting – they don’t seem to be doing much. It’s sad, and devastating to the wildlife. If we get another snow year like 2008, I don’t know how the deer population will survive the lack of trees.
Back in the sixties there was a popular song, I think the singer was Joanie Mitchell…They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Maybe it wasn’t a song but a prophesy!
Remember it well. Yes, sadly, it seems it was prophetic.
Just returned from a six state tour of the Rocky Mountain National Parks. In Yellowstone and Custer State Park (Wyoming), fire damage from the late 1980s is still very apparent. What really hit me were the two mile long coal trains in Wyoming. We saw several, and imagining the amount of pollution coming from them made me realize how much of an uphill battle cleaning up the air is. I also am voting yes on Question One. As for politicians, well that situation is unfixable. I’m ready to accept that humanity is on the way out. Twenty thousand years from now, maybe a new species will do a better job caring for the planet.
You raise a valid point John. The only way to stop CMP is to allow the legislature retroactive powers. If these were separate items you’d get yes votes inre CMP and no votes inre retroactivity. As is usual, they have stacked the deck so that in order to get one you must accept the other!
Horrible photo. I thought logging was now selective cutting. Naive me. As for the CMP corrridor…we do all share the same air and hydro power makes sense…but why wasn’t it structured so Maine shares the power? As for politicians…just sad.
I understand your point in regard to we all share. But I get irritated when Maine sacrifices and Massachusetts and Quebec profit. I’ve noticed the fine print in all of the ads to vote no on 1 are paid for by Quebec-Hydro.
As for them replanting, the reason they are planting pine and spruce is because they grow faster than hardwood and can be harvested sooner. Not to mention that the paper industry in the U. S. is pretty much passé…look at all of the Maine mills that are no longer in use. I have relatives in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and they are united in their hatred of Irving as a company.
I felt the same shock at the clear cut devastation in our Maine woods this past weekend. We were camping at Katahdin Iron Works and when we left we headed west towards Greenville. We went past one area that was obviously cut over and replanted with a crop of conifers for some future harvest. Then we went past acres and acres and acres of slash that look exactly like your photo. That slash did not just appear this past season but had been sitting there for years. Unless you get off the main roads, you never see this rape of our forests.
Also, driving along the road from Moosehead Lake to Jackman we were dismayed to see Brassua Lake drained and the lake-bed exposed with packed mud and branches. Was Brassua Lake drained to keep Moosehead full? I can’t find anything online about this situation. Search for Brassua Lake and all you will find are links to vacation rentals. As if anyone wants to spend their vacation by a drained lake.
Hey, Vaughn. We’re just back from a vacation in Maine and were fascinated to see all the signs saying vote yes, vote no. What I found confusing was apparently if you were against a proposition you had to vote yes and if you were for the proposition you had to vote no. That’s just wrong! Let’s at least give folks a fighting chance to figure out what’s in these porpositions. I’m from Texas and this is a trick our legislators do routinely. Make the proposition as obsucre as possible.
Nowhere did I pick up on the fact that Maine wasn’t going to get the power. Give up your trees, for what?
There are a few good congresmen and senators out there, but not near as many as we need. If the voting rights bill can’t get passed, we’re really all up a creek and not in a good way. I have no doubt that Texas (which has just gerrymandered the lines to eliminate two minority seats, even though our population growth was attributable to increases in minority pouplation) will put in place the tricky little stratergy that if they don’t like the results of the election, they’ll be able to change it. Sad times. Thanks for your post.