Fall for the Dark – September eNewsletter

Autumn adventures, Brian’s #myparkstory, Stars Over Katahdin registration, be a Junior Ranger Night Explorer, and more…

When was the last time you stood outside at night and looked up at the sky? Many of us do not have a view of the stars from home, trapped in the bubbles of light cast by industry, street lamps, and illuminated windows. Away from city lights, the dark can make us uneasy, but for countless animals considering their fall migrations, long dark nights are essential for safety and travel success. As humans, looking into the vast universe, we can find comfort in spotting familiar constellations, and awe while contemplating our place in the glowing band that is our galaxy. Today, 80% of Americans cannot see the Milky Way.

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument was designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2020 for its stunningly dark skies. With this designation comes an obligation to protect this exceptional natural resource. Your membership support has been crucial in raising awareness, educating the public, and supporting research.

Fall is the perfect time to plan a dark sky trip! Rangers are hosting a series of Night Sky programs in and near the national monument, the bugs are (mostly) gone, and the sun is setting earlier each day! Friends is especially excited for our 10th annual Stars Over Katahdin, a family event open to all on Saturday, October 14th (read all about it below).

People gathered with telescopes at night with the Milky Way.
Star party at the Overlook. Photo credit: John Meader


From a peaceful solo snowshoe to an off-script camping adventure with two boys, Executive Director Brian Hinrichs has packed a variety of iconic Katahdin Woods and Waters experiences since joining the team. Check out Brian’s park story this month, spanning the seasons and many of our favorite activities (including identifying moose poop).

A family on a rocky mountaintop looking across a wooded landscape.
Atop Barnard Mountain a fine picnic spot awaits! Photo credit: Brian Hinrichs

Fall fun with Katahdin Learning Project

This season, KLP is excited to expand programs into the community and offer programs in Island Falls, Medway and Millinocket in addition to Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Education Coordinator Elise shared: “We will be expanding our water quality citizen science project by testing water at three different locations in the Katahdin region. Students will connect the water that flows through their communities to health, environment, and culture.”

A group of children gather around a colorful water pH test strip.
Students test pH levels in the East Branch, 2022. Photo credit: FKWW

KLP saw tremendous success with the Katahdin Region Outdoor Collaborative (KROC) summer day and overnight programs for middle schoolers and will keep the adventures going this fall! KLP, Outdoor Sport Institute, Katahdin Gear Library, and Katahdin Area Trails will offer a day hike and an overnight camping opportunity for youth this October. Attention local families – registration will open soon! Reach out to elise@friendsofkww.org with questions.

Welcome to Isabelle Jandreau, who will be working with KLP during our fall programs in her role as a KROC Fellow. Isabelle is from northern Maine and recently graduated with a degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism from the University of Maine. Last summer, she interned with Outdoor Sport Institute and got to know the KLP team through collaborative programs–which made Isabelle the perfect choice to be selected in an innovative pilot program hosted as a fellowship at OSI. The KROC fellow works with various organizations – strengthening programmatic collaborations and adding shared capacity around the Katahdin Region. Isabelle dove in this month (although hopefully not literally) by leading a kayak workshop with students from Stearns High School in Millinocket.

Stars Over Katahdin

On October 14th, Friends will gather with the National Park Service, expert astronomers, and our community to celebrate the darkest skies East of the Mississippi River. The free event will run from noon to 10 p.m. and feature safe guided viewing of a partial solar eclipse, family activities, food from Oak Creek Smokery, campfire chats, and – of course – night sky viewing. Learn more and visit the registration page here.

A man watches another man looking through a telescope in daylight.
Learning how to use a telescope before dark. Photo credit: John Meader

Park News

Sponsor Spotlight

Thank you to two of our Hathorn level sponsors: Bangor Savings Bank and Maine Audubon! From supporting community businesses to protecting our state’s wildlife, these two Friends support our work financially and in the community.

Sponsors provide crucial funding that supports our mission and work. To learn more about becoming a sponsor in 2023, visit friendsofkww.org/sponsorship or contact sarah@friendsofkww.org.

—This blog post was adapted from an email transmitted on September 27, 2023. Sign up for our email list at friendsofkww.org/signup