Maine natural history expert looks at past, future of Allagash

Dean B. Bennett, an expert on Maine’s natural history, discusses the history of the legendary Allagash Wilderness Waterway and current pressures to alter its wilderness character in a slide lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives. This event is free and open to the public.

In a talk titled Something Splendid Has Happened Here’: An Allagash Legacy, Bennett, professor emeritus at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), examines the long struggle to preserve the Allagash as a wilderness area and how that effort fits into the larger movement to conserve wild and scenic rivers. Bennett will highlight the crucial role played by U.S. Sen. Edmund S. Muskie in establishing the Allagash Waterway and will discuss its future as a wilderness area.

Bennett is the author of The Wilderness from Chamberlain Farm: A Story of Hope for the American Wild (Island Press, 2001 ). At UMF, he taught courses in science education, interdisciplinary science, perspectives on nature, and curriculum and instruction. He holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in resource planning and conservation from the University of Michigan.

Born and raised in rural western Maine, Bennett is a naturalist at heart and spends much time exploring the natural history of the New England countryside. In addition to his work on Chamberlain Farm, his published works include Maine’s Natural Heritage: Rare Species and Unique Natural Features, Allagash: Maine’s Wild and Scenic River, and The Forgotten Nature of New England: A Search for Traces of the Original Wilderness.

Bennett and his wife, Sheila, visit the north Maine woods and the Allagash frequently and have produced a natural history guide to the area. They are active in a coalition of national and state organizations dedicated to preserving the Allagash Waterway as a primitive, unspoiled forest area in perpetuity.

Dedicated in 1985, the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library documents this 1936 Bates alumnus’ career in public service, from his first election to the Maine House of Representatives in 1946 to his appointment as U.S. secretary of state in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. Each year the Archives sponsors lectures, symposia and conferences on national and state politics, foreign policy and the environment.

View Comments