Every year, the Downeast Lakes Conservation Award is presented to honor those who have made extraordinary contributions toward the long-term economic and environmental well-being of the Downeast Lakes region of Maine. This year’s recipient of the award, Louie Cataldo, is no exception to that definition. One of the founders of the Downeast Lakes Land Trust, Louie served energetically on the Board of Directors for more than seventeen years.
Born and raised in Grand Lake Stream, Louie returned home following service in the United States Navy. He became a Registered Maine Guide in 1977 and he owned and managed numerous local businesses. During his time as the First Selectman (or as he was admiringly called “the mayor”) of Grand Lake Stream, Louie facilitated numerous collaborations with DLLT. He led the community to rally around local conservation efforts, which will benefit the Downeast region for many years to come. An outspoken advocate for local fish and wildlife populations, Louie served many years as the chair of DLLT’s Fish and Wildlife Habitat Subcommittee, where he spearheaded numerous initiatives to enhance habitat for such species as white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, and eastern brook trout. In 2018, Louie relocated to Wiscasset, Maine, to be closer to family and fulfill his long-held dream of opening a small business, Wicked Good Treasures, along Route 1. While his many friends are happy for his success, Louie’s presence in Grand Lake Stream is, and will be, dearly missed.
DLLT board member and past president Steve Schaefer, who served with Louie since DLLT’s founding, gave an emotive presentation speech highlighting Louie’s life and accomplishments.
“[Louie] was a dedicated advocate of public access, traditional use, and healthy fish and wildlife populations,” said Schaefer, “People listened to Louie. His support with his local voice was a keystone of success for DLLT.”
Unable to leave the busy Midcoast tourist season to attend DLLT’s annual picnic in July, Louie was presented with the award at his business in Wiscasset by DLLT President and CEO David Montague.
“This was a great honor. I have dedicated a lot of time to the mission of the Land Trust and appreciate that the DLLT board of directors would honor me with such an award”, said Cataldo, when asked about his most recent accomplishment.
This year’s Downeast Lakes Conservation Award was a handcrafted white ash canoe paddle made by Dale Tobey of Grand Lake Canoe and Paddle. The paddle was decorated with a wood-burned design by local artist Michelle Burke. The design features a depiction of the Hill Gould Buck, which was famously shot in Grand Lake Stream by local hunter (and Louie Cataldo’s grandfather) Hill Gould.