Eight years ago, Earl Eastwood of Orono, one of the Sunkhaze Stream Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s founding fathers, hooked onto the idea of recognizing fisheries and wildlife biologists who made significant contributions to conserving and protecting the resources so important to Maine and its sportsmen. Not surprisingly, the “Earl of Eastwood’s” idea was deemed a “keeper” by the chapter’s board of directors. Since then, 21 awards have been presented to biologists selected by their peers, supervisors, and subordinates.
Last Saturday, the total increased to 24 when three biologists were honored at the Sunkhaze Chapter’s annual soiree now known as “Biologists’ Night.” Without further false casting, it’s my pleasure to inform you that the Marine Biologist of the Year award was landed by Stan Chenoweth of the Department of Marine Resources.
Stationed in Boothbay Harbor, Stan has been involved in marine fisheries research for 35 years. His career includes service with National Marine Fisheries, New England Fishery Management Council, and the Research Institute of the Gulf of Maine. During his 16 years with the DMR, his research projects have included, groundfish, blue mussels, ocean quahogs, periwinkles and sea urchins.
Considering that the pressures on marine resources nowadays are as constant as the tides, the value of Stan’s professional experience and expertise is obvious. Accordingly, his selection as Marine Biologist of the Year is well-deserved.
The Fisheries Biologist of the Year award was netted by Paul Johnson, regional biologist of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s Region E, with headquarters in Greenville. During the past 26 years, Paul has tended to the finned inhabitants of Moosehead Lake, Maine’s largest and most controversial inland fishing ground. He was named regional biologist in 1986.
In all, Paul and his assistants manage 236,000 acres of lakes and ponds and 4,183 miles of rivers and streams throughout Region E. They also keep a tight line on the relicensing of dams on the Penobscot’s West Branch, and the developing muskie fishery in Baker Lake.
Paul’s communications skills are an important asset to his profession and, in that regard, I appreciate his direct answers whenever I ask him for information. Simply put, the man doesn’t cut much slack. His commitment to restoring Moosehead’s fishing is as strong as his convictions regarding the lake’s management programs and he is more than willing to debate those who oppose and contest them. His selection as the Biologist of the Year award was an accurate cast by his colleagues.
For nearly 30 years, Gary Donovan has left tracks as a wildlife biologist with the DIFW. Working his way through the ranks, he became director of the wildlife division. A tribute to Gary’s administrative and leadership skills was the standing ovation given by his “troops” when he was named the recipient of the Wildlife Biologist of the Year award.
His accomplishments, including establishment of non-game programs in a traditionally game-oriented organization, are impressive. But his contributions to the department, the state and its sportsmen were perhaps best expressed by the following remarks made by several of his division biologists: “He is known as a strong leader who was tough and compassionate at the same time.”
“He has had more positive impact on the division than anyone I can think of.”
“During the past five years he has been the glue that has held the wildlife division together in tight times with budget axes ready to fall. He constantly uplifts the morale of his people and will go to great lengths to support us all. I could go on, but his track record and legacy speak for themselves.”
Bagging the award was as timely as it was well-deserved for the biologist, who will be leaving the DIFW in a few weeks to take a position with Champion Paper Co. His wildlife-management responsibilities will apply to company lands in four states: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York. Without question, Gary’s experience and expertise will be invaluable in establishing cooperative policies that will produce economic and ecological profits.
Capping the awards ceremonies was the presentation of a plaque to the Earl of Eastwood for his insight in establishing the Biologist of the Year awards. In addition to supporting and participating in the chapter’s many important programs, Earl is also editor of the organization’s informative and enjoyable newsletter, “Trout Feathers.” The “Groaners” and “Daffynitions” he offers therein are appreciated as much as a trout’s rise to a fly. Well, almost, anyway.
Aside from the awards, the dinner was delicious and the speeches shorter than a noon shadow, which means a good time was had by all.