February 26, 2020

Traditional guiding, quality environment

In response to East Millinocket resident Joe Davis’ comments on what a detriment “environmentalists” and their wishes for a wilder Maine are (BDN letter, May 18); we submit an outline of the economic impact of seven guests on the recent eight-day St. John River canoe trip, in the company of two guides and an apprentice. Receipts reveal something of what a quality environment and traditional guiding can yield to a number of entrepreneurs:

$786.47 to food merchants in Dover-Foxcroft

$852 to North Maine Woods of Ashland

$545 to Allagash Outfitters, Allagash Village

$65 to Dickey Trading Post (breakfast) in Dickey

$190 to Horn of Plenty (lunch) in Island Falls

$185.51 for gas in Greenville, Dickey and Fort Kent

A total of $2,623.98 was spent in seven Maine communities by people who would not have been here at all were it not for a relatively wild river offering a quality experience. This from one very small guiding service which has 11 more Maine trips to go this season.

Further, the total does not account for the more significant amounts left at various bed and breakfasts, airports, restaurants, outdoor retailers and other establishments that the trip guests visited before and after their trip.

It also makes no mention of the wood and canvas canoes and one birch bark canoe that we use, all of which are made by independent Maine craftsmen. Or locally crafted paddles, poles, wanigans and pack baskets. Or the Maine-made canoe trailer and the van bought at a local dealership. Or the annual commercial land use fees and elevated vehicle and liability insurance via Maine-based agents.

In addition to these multiplier effects is having been in business for 26 years, all five vans and three canoe trailers later.

The next time someone mentions that the environmentalist agenda is driven by a bunch of secretive, anti-growth, leave-no-money-locally “elitists,” remember that the holders of that opinion may be misguided.

Some of us happen to see a small way to diversify a slice of the tourism pie. But only if some portions of the landscape can deliver the goods in the form of quality wildlands dedicated to self-propelled traditional travel.

Alexandra and Garrett Conover, of Willimantic, are registered Maine Guides who operate North Woods Ways.

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