Book Documents State's Rich Fisheries Management History

By Holyoke, John | Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME), November 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

Book Documents State's Rich Fisheries Management History


Holyoke, John, Bangor Daily News (Bangor, ME)


ROCKWOOD, Maine -- Ask for a list of the state's most swashbuckling, adventure-packed professions, and "fisheries biologist" may not show up.

But 96-year-old Roger AuClair of Rockwood, who retired from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in 1985, has stories to tell -- like about the time he hitched a ride with a warden pilot to a remote pond he wanted to survey, and things didn't work out exactly as planned.

"We lashed [the canoe] to the plane's floats, usually," AuClair said during a recent chat at his kitchen table. "This time, someone had brought or given [the pilot] a new kind of [strap] like the end of a dog's leash that you clipped on."

The clip failed in mid-flight, and the canoe began swinging from the other strap. When the dangling canoe swung forward, the propeller lopped a 4-foot section off the bow.

"[He] was an excellent pilot. He'd been doing that all his life," AuClair said. "He immediately turned the plane so that the canoe would fall down again, which it did. Then he landed on a smaller pond."

Far from civilization, the duo realized they would need to make some primitive repairs before the plane would fly again.

"The propeller was bent, so we couldn't take off," AuClair said. "We took two or three big rocks and we'd pound on it to flatten the propeller. We got away with it."

Just another day in the life of a Maine fisheries biologist.

AuClair's colleagues, who have managed the state's fisheries resources since 1950, when the first generation of biologists was hired, also have tales to tell. Those stories are now part of what's inside recently published book "The Origin, Formation & History of Maine's Inland Fisheries Division," edited by AuClair's wife, Suzanne AuClair. It also provides readers with answers to plenty of lingering questions about the scientific work the biologists performed.

Suzanne AuClair said the book project began two years ago, when she and Roger were leaving a get-together of fisheries retirees.

"Just out of the blue, he said, 'There's a lot of experience standing there, and there should be something put together, some sort of reference of the work because everything's scattered, too much time goes by,'" Suzanne AuClair said.

In the book, she tried to capture all those years of experience - - essentially the "institutional memory" of the fisheries division - - so she could share it with readers.

Finishing the book during her aging husband's lifetime was a key factor as well, she said.

"I wanted Roger to see it," she said. And with Roger's help, she did just that.

The retired fisheries staffers who are still living were asked to submit autobiographies. …

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