As a continuation of efforts to reconnect communities of the Androscoggin River to the recreational potential of this major Maine river, the Androscoggin Land Trust will be hosting Youth Fishing Days in Downtown Lewiston-Auburn during the summer of 2012. The first event was planned for this morning, June 28, at Little Andy Park in New Auburn.
Through efforts to assess potential land trail and water access to the Androscoggin River between the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park in Turner and Downtown Lewiston-Auburn, a series of community-based events are being coordinated by ALT to reconnect residents to the Androscoggin and build a sense of community ownership.
Recognizing the strengths of various state and local partners, ALT has engaged with the very successful “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” program of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to bring their programming and resources to the community.
The “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” program is the flagship youth education program of the Future Fisherman Foundation and is sponsored in Maine by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “HOFNOD uses angling skill development as a gateway to teach youth about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and how to deal with the challenges facing them in their young lives,” said Emily McCabe, activities coordinator for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
While the events are open to the public, ALT sought local organizations that might benefit from this unique youth event to target its promotion. The Boys and Girls Club in Auburn provides a safe environment for young people to learn, build character and be with friends after school and during the summer. The club became an ideal partner, as the clubhouse on Second Avenue is only a few minutes walk from the downtown riverfront.
A second fishing day will be provided in July with the Tree Street Youth Center of Lewiston.
“This fishing event is a fantastic way for these local kids to start their summer program,”said Andrea Hannon of the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine Auburn/Lewiston Clubhouse. “With resources often limited for river-based activities, providing a fun outdoor experience for these kids to help build pride in their community is exciting. We’re thankful to ALT for coordinating and Maine IF&W for taking the time to introduce these kids to fishing.”
Riverside trails and parks have emerged in Lewiston and Auburn over the last 15 years, but interest is now growing for more water-based activities including kayaking, canoeing and fishing. With a growing number of worn paths emerging along the banks, as local residents seek fishing spots, ALT has moved to include riverbank fishing into its river recreation study.
“We are excited to be playing this coordinating role in the community of Lewiston-Auburn,” says Jonathan LaBonte, executive director of ALT. “Both cities have made significant investments in improvement to the riverfront areas, local groups like The Boys and Girls Club and Tree Street Youth Center are seeking to engage young people and empower them to set high expectations for themselves, and Maine IFW has built a great program to connect youth to Maine’s great heritage of outdoor sports. If we can help connect these dots, we are happy to do it.”
ALT was awarded a series of grants for 2012 to focus on planning for land and water trail linkages between Gulf Island Pond and the downtown commercial and residential areas of Lewiston-Auburn. This includes support from the Environmental Funders Network’s Quality of Place Initiative, the Ferguson Foundation, the Davis Conservation Foundation, and technical support from the National Park Service’s Rivers and Trails Program.
Youths participating in the events should bring their own fishing poles and bait if they have it, but loaner equipment will be available. For more information, contact Margi Huber, ALT Outreach Coordinator, at 782-2302 or firstname.lastname@example.org.