River paddlers reconvene during balloon festival

The Great Falls Paddling Society, a program of the Androscoggin Land Trust, is having its second “meeting” this weekend as part of the 18th annual Great Falls Balloon Festival.

Kayak and canoe enthusiasts are invited to get out their boats and meet other paddlers during hot air balloon launches, the last of which takes place at 5 p.m. today.

Paddlers will leave the Little Andy Park boat access on Second Street in Auburn at 4 p.m. today.

“Taking advantage of Lewiston-Auburn’s spectacular waterfront, lined with historic mill buildings and canals, just makes sense during the Great Falls Balloon Festival,” land trust Executive Director Jonathan LaBonte says. “Where else in New England can you paddle along an historic landscape and watch hot air balloons take flight overhead?”

The event is informal, free and meant to provide a new way for local residents and visitors to get out on the Androscoggin River and connect with others.

For more information, go online to www.androscogginlandtrust.org.


Androscoggin contests to support conserving river

The Upper Andro Two Fly Contest and Northeast Drift Boat Championship are scheduled for Sept. 17 and 18, in conjunction with Bethel’s annual Harvest Fest.

The competitions are the annual fundraisers for the Upper Andro Anglers Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to the conservation, protection, restoration and promotion of the natural fishing resource of the Upper Androscoggin River, its tributaries, watershed and environs. 

Contestants may use only two flies during the event, which starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Teams may launch from public launch sites at the New Hampshire border at Shelburne to Rumford Center. The contest concludes at 2 p.m.

The Two Fly contest will test the skills of anglers to fly fish for the most and the largest of the three trout species, brown, rainbow and brook found in the Upper Androscoggin River from the New Hampshire border to Rumford Center.

Teams of three including two anglers and a referee/oarsman must fish from a drift boat. All fish must be released live.

Prizes including rods and fishing gear supplied by Kittery Trading Post, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, Sun Valley Sports and the Orvis Company.

The Northeast Drift Boat Championship will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 17. Designed as a spectator event, the competition will test oarsmen’s skills at navigating a course and rowing speed. Each drift boat must carry at least one angler, who must remain standing throughout the timed race. The launch will be from Bethel Outdoor Adventures on Route 2 and the finish line is at Davis Park in Bethel, a distance of a quarter mile.

Official contest rules and a registration form are available at www.upperandro.com.


New museum offers look at outdoor sporting history

The $1 million Rangeley Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum opened last weekend in this western Maine village.

The 3,500-square-foot log museum built by the Rangeley Lakes Region Historical Society is on the site of the old narrow gauge railroad station at the corner of routes 4 and 17.

Along with historic documents and photographs of legendary guides and characters from the region, it houses the finest and largest collection of Carrie Stevens fishing flies in the world, and lore on the steamships that plied the region’s lakes.

For more information, go online to www.rangeleyoutdoormuseum.org.


New book tells stories of lands preserved by trust

The Kennebec Land Trust releases its first book, “Between Person and Place: Conservation Histories from the Kennebec Land Trust,” today.

The 48-page book features essays and photographs that capture the stories behind the trust’s conservation lands.

Two book release events are planned at trust properties: one at 12:30 today at the Small-Burnham Conservation Area in Litchfield, and a second at the Sturtevant Farm Scenic Area in Fayette on Oct. 2.

Copies of the book will be available at local bookstores and shops, and can be ordered online at www.tklt.org for $12, plus shipping and handling.

Working with conservation-minded landowners since 1988, the Kennebec Land Trust has protected over 3,700 acres in the Kennebec River and Lakes Region through donations, purchases and conservation easements. The Trust maintains more than 20 miles of trails and its conservation properties are open to the public for hiking, hunting, fishing and enjoying nature.


Fern and orchid expert to lead excursion, workshop

Paul Martin Brown, editor of the North American Native Orchid Journal and author of orchid field guides, will lead an event focusing on ferns on Aug. 31.

The Tin Mountain Conservation Center nature program, “Ferns and Fern Allies of Northern New England,” will depart at 9:30 a.m. in car pools from the Miss Wakefield Diner.

The foray into the woodlands of west-central Maine will study 15 to 20 species of ferns and a variety of fern allies, such as lycopods and horsetails. Participants also will visit the garden of Brown and artist Stan Folsom. Be sure to gas up prior to meeting and bring a lunch.

A brief workshop on fern morphology and vocabulary with handouts will be part of the day.

The cost is $10 for Tin Mountain members and $15 for non-members.

For more information, call 603-447-6991, ext. 12, or go online to www.tinmountain.org.


Georges River trust wins $50,000 in grants

The Maine Community Foundation recently awarded the Georges River Land Trust two grants totaling $50,000 through their Ram Island Conservation Fund.

The first award is a $25,000 matching grant for the recent installment purchase of the Paulsen Farm easement. This conservation easement, signed last December, protects a 252-acre hay and cattle farm in South Thomaston that acts as an important bridge of protected land between the Weskeag Marsh and the St. George River.

The Paulsen Farm connects two important conservation areas, the state-owned Waldo Tyler Wildlife Management Area and the Riverview Hayfields Preserve.

The second award, also a matching grant of $25,000, is for building a permanent endowment to fund land trust programs.

The Georges River Land Trust’s mission is to conserve and steward the natural resources of the St. George River watershed region for the public benefit. For more information, go online to www.grlt.org or call 594-5166.

Pancho Villa keeps title in boatyard dog contest

Six canine competitors and their human companions showed off their skills during the World Championship Boatyard Dog competition at the Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show in Rockland last Sunday.

Defending champion Pancho Villa won for a second year. The puggle (half beagle, half pug) from Camden and his handlers, the brother and sister team of Abigail and Elliot Matlack, sped through the obstacle course, showed agility getting into and out of a tippy dinghy, and maneuvered around the inner harbor on a paddle board.

As always, the contest was based on three simple rules: either the dog or handler must finish completely soaked; cheating is not only tolerated, but encouraged; and there are no other rules.


Tarpy among runners in trail race at Pineland

Pat Tarpy of Yarmouth, the first Maine finisher in the 2010 Beach to Beacon race, will be participating in the inaugural Combat Cancer 10K trail race on Sept. 26 at Pineland Farms to benefit the Cancer Community Center.

Tarpy is part of the committee organizing the race and was going to forgo running to help out behind the scenes, but at the urging of his fellow committee members he is now running the race.

The race is part of the center’s Fight Back Weekend, which features three ways for supporters at all levels of physical fitness to participate.

There is a 10-, 25- or 60-mile bike ride and lobster bake on Sept. 25 and a 5K walk or 1-mile stroll the next day in conjunction with the race. Both days include food and activities for the whole family. For more information, call 774-2200 or register at www.CancerCommunityCenter.org/FightBack.htm.


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