Yarmouth, ME, December 2021— Maine Rivers presented a leadership award to Nate Gray of Vassalboro at the organization’s annual meeting, held over Zoom on December 2, 2021. The award was presented by Rick Lawrence of Benton, a founding member of Maine Rivers, a longtime official for the Town of Benton and Benton’s Alewife Warden, citing Nate’s exceptional leadership.
A scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources in the Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat group, Nate has worked on diadromous fisheries restoration projects for three decades and has been instrumental in efforts that are now bringing back annual runs of millions of river herring. In making the award, Rick Lawrence read:
Since Benton began to harvest river herring on the Sebasticook River, I have worked with Nate to see that the fish are harvested sustainably and safely at Benton Falls. I remain impressed by his vast knowledge of diadromous fishes, also by his thoughtful handling of every change and challenge. He works tirelessly. He works cooperatively with the Town, the Benton Dam operators and the Town’s harvesters to both anticipate and solve problems. He deserves great credit for the successful, constructive and harmonious relationship among all parties. As Benton’s Alewife Warden I rely on him for good judgment and advice.
Nate is an educator and effective advocate. He has met with college students and their professors from Colby and Unity College for many years, and speaks eloquently to groups of local residents and visitors, advocating for our rivers and explaining their importance for diadromous and catadromous species. As a retired teacher, after 33 years, I am impressed by his ability to explain his work to young and old, to eminent writers and professors as well as to children and local farmers. I have rarely met a person of Nate Gray’s caliber: his intelligence, experience, knowledge and temperament.
He has labored to expand Sebasticook fish habitat, exploring possibilities from Lovejoy and Pattee’s Ponds to Webber and Togus. Whether this involves slogging through woods and wading upstream or enlightening landowners and neighbors, I observe that Nate is undaunted. I attended a meeting of the Togus Pond Association in Augusta a few years ago where his presentation effectively persuaded the group to work for fish passage, and provided an author with new material for a book on fish passage. We are certain that the success of the China Lake Alewife Restoration Initiative is due in no small part of Nate’s commitment, energy and wisdom.##