On Sunday, Sept. 13, we’ll celebrate Landowner Appreciation Day. This day is focused on picking up trash dumped on private land, and you can (and should) help.

Of course, if you enjoy the outdoors, I hope you appreciate landowners every day.

We are very lucky in Maine to be able to access all private land that is not posted. And even though we can do that, I encourage you to find out whose land you are using and thank them. And don’t assume you can’t access posted land — ask that landowner for permission and you might be surprised when you gain access.

We are also lucky to have a lot of land trusts who protect our best lands and make them accessible to us. We donated our woodlot to the Kennebec Land Trust and they’ve done a great job building trails there. And our library put up a story time walk on the woodlot, using one of Lynn Plourde’s wonderful children’s books.

Anglers have no legal access to the brooks, streams and rivers we enjoy fishing. I always asked for permission to access my favorite fishing spots, and was never denied.

I think it’s especially important for hunters and anglers to get permission, even if the land is not posted. By asking permission, I developed great relationships with the owners of my favorite private lands.

And it is very important that you respect that land, and don’t damage it or leave trash there. I got so tired of picking up trash left in the woods behind our house by anglers, I posted “Access by Permission Only” signs.

They would even throw trash in my brook, and one day, I found my fire pit full of beer cans. This spot is popular with anglers, and I gave permission to everyone who asked, asking them not to leave trash. And I haven’t had any trash there since I did this.

We also saw two hunters hunting right through our back yard. That was another reason I posted our land. Those hunters were out-of-staters who simply stopped and entered our woods with no idea that our house was ahead. Yes, hunters must know the area before entering the woods.

There are states where you are unable to access any private land without permission. That would be so disappointing for Mainers. But there have been bills at the Legislature requiring permission to access any private lands. Thankfully, those bills have gained little support.

We do have a very bad problem in Maine, with people who throw their trash out their car windows, onto private land. I used to pick up that trash, and walking a quarter mile from my house to my woodlot, I’d fill one big bag with garbage and one with beer bottles and cans.

It’s disgusting what people toss out of their cars, sometimes throwing their trash right on our front lawn. Recently someone threw their used tissue on our lawn. Disgusting.

On Sunday, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Forest Service are hosting a Landowner Appreciation and Clean Up Day to help clean up illegal dump sites on private property that landowners allow people to use for recreation.

Landowners who would like help cleaning up their property and those who would like to volunteer to help can contact Dave Chabot, landowner relations officer for the Maine Forest Service, to get set up. Prizes will be awarded to volunteers who pick up the most truck loads of litter. Volunteers and landowners can reach Officer Chabot at 557-0530 or [email protected]

All loads of trash will be measured by pickup truckload at one of the designated drop off spots by state personnel. Tires will be held separately in piles at designated sites and picked up by BDS Waste Disposal. Clubs and organizations can enter the event and get more information by contacting Virginia Vincent at 287-5240 or [email protected].

Please participate in this important event, which lets landowners know we appreciate access to and use of their property.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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