Wear life jackets

The first thing I noticed in the photo of kayaking on the Penobscot River accompanying the July 11 BDN article about a group promoting watercraft recreation in the Katahdin region was the absence of a life jacket on the woman in the foreground. The promotion of kayaking on beautiful Maine waters is an admirable undertaking. My friends and I are avid paddlers, but we would not dream of going out in our boats without wearing life jackets. Kayaks do, as the article states, float in a few inches of water, but a person can drown in those same few inches.

This is just after the BDN ran an article on July 9 about how drowning is a threat no matter a swimmer’s level of experience. The fact that it is hot is no excuse for not wearing a life jacket. There simply is no acceptable excuse for not wearing a life jacket. Most parents or grandparents would not dream of taking a small child out of the water without a life jacket — why would they not put one on themselves?

Promoting any type of boating without also promoting the constant wearing of life jackets is not doing justice to Maine and its beauty. Promotion through publication of such photos sends the wrong message, and that message can take our beautiful scenery and wonderful natural resources and make them into killers.

So, paddle, enjoy and connect, but wear a life jacket while doing it.

Sue Shaw


Oversight of St. Croix dams

Rep. Bruce Poliquin submitted a bill last month to exempt three dams in the St. Croix River watershed in Washington County from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversight. Exempting these dams endangers local recreational businesses and will do little to improve job stability at the Woodland paper mill.

FERC licensing protects dam safety, fish passage, lake water levels and recreational opportunities. Hardly a day goes by in the summer when young campers and family groups are not canoeing the St. Croix River. Moreover, FERC is now the only agency protecting this watershed because the state lost its authority over two of these dams three years ago by missing licensing deadlines.

This bill sets a bad precedent for other storage dams around the state and nation, too. What will happen to the rafting industry in central Maine if the dams on those rivers are exempt from FERC licensing?

The mill threatens that the costs of licensing the St. Croix dams is more than $1 million per year, putting jobs at risk. This is a grand overstatement, as FERC calculates it at $190,000. The mill recently spent $120 million on two new tissue machines, so are we to believe this Hong Kong-based company will really go out of business over $190,000?

Our rivers and lakes are too important to be sold out to Chinese investors. This bill is no more than corporate welfare. FERC oversight will make sure our lakes and rivers are protected for the recreational industry and people who live near them.

Mark Hyland


Lawmakers to blame for Castile’s death

After the tragic deaths of Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota, and police officers in Dallas, the truly guilty ones are the legislators who in their perfect world of camelot put in concealed carry laws the stupid requirement to tell a cop when a person is pulled over in a car that he or she has a gun with a permit, turning a tense situation into a dangerous one with the driver of the car uttering the G-word.

The fault of this tragic event belongs with the legislatures who set standards that are socially provoking, thus two victims with lives were ruined, Castile and the policeman. I saw the video hearing the pain in the officer’s voice, which clearly sounds like a man who does not hate the color of a man. Castile, wanting to do the right thing in following the letter of the law, lost his life, so any and all anger should be directed to the legislatures to prevent other innocent lives from being destroyed.

I have had a concealed permit for 30 years, and I have been pulled over and never said the G-word to the cop, showing common sense and respect to the cop, so I ignore the wording found in the law. Don’t let the video of dying Castile be the reason to dishonor the man by furthering violence because he would not be the man out there shooting or hurting people. He would be the one wanting the word of law changed to make a better society.

Orlando Frati Jr.