Anglers’ trash equals loss of access

The beer cans were the final straw. For 34 years, we’ve offered free access to anglers who wish to fish the brook and pond behind our Mount Vernon home and the stream that runs alongside our house. The access begins by a short stroll across our lawn.

Last spring, while clearing the trails behind the house for an upcoming birding adventure for her first-grade class, Linda found a bunch of beer cans in our fire pit on the point where the brook meets the pond.

It is hard for me to believe that any angler can enjoy the beauty of our forest, brook, and pond, perhaps haul in some gorgeous brook trout there or a big bass, and then leave their trash behind. One year someone dropped an empty potato chip bag along the brook. I left it there all summer long to see if anyone would pick it up. Nope.

I’ve found discarded plastic worm containers, clumps of monofilament, plastic soda bottles, and bags with the leavings of lunch. One year, when we had a picnic table on the edge of our lawn alongside the stream, I looked out to see an angler sitting there eating his lunch. By all means, be my guest.

Only a handful of anglers over the years have knocked on the door to ask permission to cross our lawn and land to get to the brook, pond, and stream. The only one who consistently asks every year is our neighbor’s boy. One year he caught a bass so big he couldn’t carry it and peddle his bike back home. I called his Mom to come and get him!

Reluctantly this morning, I posted “Access by Permission Only” signs. I called the neighbors to tell them they had permission. But I know their boy will stop by to ask, anyway. The others – well, we’ll see.

If they do ask, I will inquire as to whether they can fish without trashing my property, and whether they make it a practice to pick up trash as they hunt and fish on the land of others, as I do. The right answers will gain them access to my land.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.