Every year, Downeast Lakes Land Trust presents the Downeast Lakes Conservation Award 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 two men who have been supporters from the founding years are being recognized. Bill Mackowski and Roger Milligan are two noted Downeast woodsmen whose friendship and volunteerism were instrumental to the early formation and success of DLLT. Board Member Steve Schaefer presented each of them with a white ash paddle made by Dale Tobey with engraving by Ryan Cross.
Roger, according to Steve, is a “true son of Grand Lake Stream.” Roger was born in GLS and grew up on Tough End Road with his two brothers. He is one of few around who participated in the legendary logging traditions of the area which included the use of horses to move lumber to water. During his career with the Forest Service, Roger was the Chief Forest Ranger. He pioneered the use of aircraft in fighting forest fires, based in Old Town.
While Roger was unable to be at the celebration in person, Steve provided some insights into Roger’s involvement with the trust. “Upon retirement, Roger became a committed founding father of Downeast Lakes Land Trust. When Roger spoke, people listened. Bottom line is we might not be here today without him.” Roger was also forester for the land trust in the early years. He has done much traveling in years past with Bill Mackowski.
Bill has been drawn to the woods, traditional tools, and craftsmen since he was a young boy in Western Pennsylvania. He is a wildlife biologist and avid outdoorsman.
Steve Schaefer introduced Bill as a “staunch advocate of DLLT from the very beginning. His enthusiasm and boundless energy was a huge factor in the early days. His donations of wonderful handmade fishing creels, chairs, pack baskets, and snowshoes have raised thousands for the trust.” And as Bill says, he knows the value of “a good pair of snowshoes, a sturdy pack basket, and of course, a sizable fishing creel.” Up until recently, Bill made all the snowshoes for Seven Islands foresters who manage one million acres in Northern Maine. He recently added a sugar bush and sugar house to his extensive shop in Milford where he pounds ash for making pack baskets and snowshoes.
After the applause quieted down and Bill rose to accept the beautifully finished paddle, he shared his experience of the formation of the land trust. “Being involved in this [DLLT] was one of the most significant and prideful things that I’ve ever done in my life. When we started there was so much energy and enthusiasm, and the message was so clear that it was easy. It was easy. It was a template for how land conservation should take place.”
From everyone at DLLT, staff and board members, thank you Roger and Bill for your many services and generous support. Your successes in conservation will provide a lasting legacy in Grand Lake Stream for its residents and visitors.