Letters to the Editor
Read what our readers have to say about Maine.
- Photography by: Sue Anne Hodges
Where in Maine?
“Where in Maine?” Oh, where to begin? Currently I’m a waitress at Moody’s Diner. Last night, all the waitstaff was gathered around our freshly delivered October issue of Down East, trying to figure out your mystery photograph. I couldn’t understand why it was so familiar until I read the clues, and then it all came flooding back. See, your photo is from such a cleverly deceptive angle, showing autumn colors that were not the traditional colors of my first summer stints as a waitress way back in the mid-1970s serving tea and popovers on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House (before the original building burned down in 1979) in Seal Harbor on Mount Desert Island. If we ever had a break between lunch and tea or tea and dinner, we’d ride our bikes down to the Seal Harbor Beach for a quick dip.
—Lisa DeAngelis Lane
I spent the summer of my senior year in high school working at the Seal Harbor Inn, now long-gone as the result of a fire. I had the pleasure of chauffeuring a dear lady from New York around the island in her beautiful mid-forties Packard touring car, as well as bell-hopping through the summer. I have a few photos taken in 2007 of St. Jude’s Episcopal Church located just up the road from the beach, and of one of the beautiful stone overpasses on the carriage roads, also nearby. (I’ll send these along to your users’ photo gallery on DownEast.com.) The Ford family had a summer estate on the hills overlooking the bay visible in your picture on the far hillside, and the Rockefellers had an equally opulent one on the hill up behind the birch tree you’ve pictured. I remember one of the servants giving us a tour of the kitchen that summer. As well-stocked as any luxurious hotel would have been. I well remember walks along Jordan Pond Road and visits to Long Pond, on the way to Northeast Harbor. Still one of the most beautiful areas in the world.
Bonney Lake, Washington
We have been coming to Seal Harbor Beach from Vermont for thirty years — and are now lucky enough to own a small house in Bass Harbor that is our Maine home from June to December. We always have a schedule of tides on our Bass Harbor refrigerator so we know when it is low tide to hunt for sea glass and other ocean treasures at Seal Harbor Beach. We have at least fifteen pounds of sea glass in old canning jars on our windowsills — most from this beach. We consider this beach a “secret” because most visitors go to Sand Beach — so we hope this issue of Down East does not have unintended consequences!
—Burtt & Linda McIntire
Wilderness and Windpower
I own a sporting camp in the western mountains of Maine. My wife and I have run this business by ourselves since the early eighties. We raised three girls here in the shadow of the Bigelow Range. We are part of the Unorganized Territories of Maine. Zoning here is under the jurisdiction of the Land Use Regulation Commission and since part of LURC’s mandate has always been to preserve the wild character of the land, as celebrated in your September article “In the Footsteps of Thoreau,” we have taken our little paradise for granted. Now that industrial windpower has come, all that is changed.
The simple way that most of us think about wind generation is, when turbines produce a volume of electricity, the fossil fuel needed to produce the same amount of electricity is saved. During a presentation to the people in Highland, the developers said that no fossil fuel plants would be shut down because of this project. Because of the erratic nature of wind, back-up sources are always running in reserve to avoid blackouts when the wind stops. When you add to that the carbon footprint of permanent deforestation for roads, power lines, and the blasting of mountain tops for turbines, the equation becomes much more complicated. There are studies that say carbon emissions are increased by the addition of industrial wind. The proponents of “big wind” say these are exaggerated. From what I have read, there is a direct relationship between the efficiency rating of a wind turbine and the amount of fossil fuel saved. Angus King and Rob Gardiner have suggested they might achieve between 25 and 30 percent efficiency in Highland. Yet the University of Maine at Presque Isle only achieved 11 percent with their turbine.
If you put enough turbines to produce 2,700 megawatts in a single-file line across the mountains of Maine, it would be a line 300 miles long with a view shed of about 12,000 square miles. (I am being conservative.) The question is, do we want to sacrifice this wild land for industrial wind projects when there is a good possibility that they won’t change the equation and might even increase our carbon footprint? It is time for all the wind developers in Maine who have projects online to publish the statistics so that we can see whether or not we are accomplishing anything. Until we have the real numbers there should be a moratorium on all mountain-top wind development.
This is the only real wild land left for all the eastern United States and there are millions of people within driving range of this wonderful resource. Wise management of this land for outdoor recreation could be the key to the economic future of these Unorganized Territories. Before we sacrifice this one last little place, we had better take a few moments and consider the consequences.
Claybrook Mountain Lodge
Highland Plantation, Maine
I thoroughly enjoyed your October article on Bethel. Having spent summers in the Bethel/Locke Mills area every year since 1947, it is like a second home and my favorite place in the world. I first visited this beautiful area as a child, then later my wife and I brought our own children, and now we are enjoying our grandchildren who love the area and look forward to visiting Maine each summer for our annual family reunion. The many attractions of the area — Artist’s Covered Bridge in Newry, Screw Auger Falls, Step Falls, Sunday River, and Mount Abram — are some of the places we visit each year. And, of course, Route 113 from Gilead that leads through Evans Notch, providing some spectacular views and wonderful brook trout fishing in the Wild River. In this area, you have to be on the lookout for moose — they are all over!
In the Line of Duty
Thank you for the October article regarding the Maine Warden Service. Having recently retired after twenty-seven years as a police officer in an urban area of New Jersey, my hat is off to these dedicated and very professional law enforcement officers. Their patrol districts are enormous, they face danger from a wide variety of threats, and their backup might be a long way off. These fine officers deserve the respect and gratitude of every resident of Maine as well as anyone who visits this great state.
Assertions such as your claim that the Maine Warden Service, organized in 1880, is the oldest conservation law enforcement agency often invite challenge. (More than one American city claims the earliest police department, and at least three states describe their state police force as the nation’s first.) As for the oldest game warden agency, there is ample competition. Rhode Island would not be unreasonable to trace its natural resource enforcement to 1842. Maryland became involved in the field in 1868, while California and New Jersey’s efforts go back to 1871. And Oregon enforcement began in 1878. Semantics may be at work, but bragging rights are not as certain as you indicate.
West Barnstable, Massachusetts
As a professional preservationist I must point out an error in your October “North by East” item about Ram Island Ledge Light. There is a commonly held misconception that once a building, structure, site, or historic district is granted a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, any changes, renovations, or modernizations to that property must be approved by some sort of governing body. This is not true. There is no branch of the Federal Government or the National Trust for Historic Preservation with the authority to dictate what can or cannot be done to private property. Any egregious changes to a property may result in the removal of that property from the National Register, but, by and large, that is a rare occurrence.
I feel it is important to clarify this issue for the general public as it seems there is a widely held belief that once a property is on the National Register it is automatically protected by law. I’ve spoken with many people who either resist the nominating process on the perceived fear of an intrusive government bureaucracy meddling in their property rights or concern that once a site achieves National Register status there is no longer any need for vigilance in protecting our shared cultural resources.
- Photography by: Sue Anne Hodges