I am writing to express my strong opposition to Wolfden Resources’ proposed mine near Picket Mountain in the Katahdin region. For decades, I and many others have enjoyed the freshwater fishery of Pleasant Lake, its flowage into Mud Lake, which is the headwater of the west branch of the Mattawamkeag River, downstream to Duck Pond and then into Rockabema Lake and beyond. The proposed mine would be very close to these waters. Pleasant Lake, Mud Lake, and nearby Grass Pond are all “State Heritage Fish Waters,” which means they are very high-quality brook trout waters that have not been stocked for at least 25 years.

I can speak from extensive personal experience when I state that these waters have been and continue to be some of the best brook trout and landlocked salmon fisheries I have experienced since my boyhood adventures growing up in Aroostook County in the 1950s and 1960s.

So, it is inconceivable to me that we would consider threatening this special place with a mine. That is why I have continually expressed deep concerns regarding Wolfden’s rezoning application currently before the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC).

Wolfden’s application woefully misrepresents the quality of the fisheries and grossly underestimates this important element of the local environment abutting their property. Wolfden attempts to cast doubt on the high quality of these fisheries by citing outdated Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (IFW) reports from the 1950s, which state that waters in the vicinity of the mine were not likely good trout habitat.

However, IFW stated in a 2020 letter on Wolfden’s first application that: “MDIFW regional fisheries staff consider Pleasant Lake and Mud Lake to be some of the best brook trout and landlock salmon waters available in the Region.” Wolden doesn’t seem to have learned anything since then. All of these waters I describe are teeming with native brook trout and landlocked salmon in the weeks after ice-out and in the fall. I have years’ worth of photographs attesting to the abundance of this fishery and plenty of friends who annually share these experiences who would agree with what I have written here.

Clean, free-flowing water supports a rich array of wildlife. Some years ago, I spoke at a symposium on polluted rivers in Montana and while there witnessed firsthand the devastation that occurred as a result of poor mining regulation. While serving as city manager in Augusta during and after the removal of the Edwards Dam, I have seen firsthand the importance of giving nature a chance.

Fishing is part of Maine’s identity. We are blessed by an abundance of species to fish, whether it’s on lakes, streams, rivers, or the ocean. There’s an entire economy dedicated to fishing in Maine and providing fishing experiences to Mainers and tourists from around the world. This is possible because of strong environmental protections and because people before us refused to let bad projects pollute our clean waters.

Sacrificing what we hold dear and what makes Maine so special for short term gain has never been part of our identity. We shouldn’t start now.

I encourage other Mainers across the state who value the experience of fishing in our crystal-clear waters to join me in writing to LUPC. You can also travel to Millinocket to speak to LUPC directly during one of two public comment sessions, in the evening of Oct. 16 or 17, to oppose Wolfden’s mining proposal. I plan to be there!

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