As the outdoor recreation planner for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Rex Turner is a big promoter of outdoor activities. His job includes working on a comprehensive recreation plan and other management plans, as well as checking on state hiking trails and camp sites to help direct new construction or rehabilitation when needed.
His department is also always encouraging Mainers to get out and enjoy their surroundings year-round, and Turner is the perfect spokesman for that effort. An avid outdoorsman, he writes a regular outdoors column for the department. His most recent piece, a “best of” list for Maine recreation in 2011, includes categories like “Best surreal experience” and “Best place to feel like you’ve walked up to the edge of understanding only to have the near-clarity evaporate back into mystery that, in retrospect, is preferable.” The white-throated sparrow won for “best song.”
Name: Rex Turner
Occupation: Outdoor recreation planner for the Bureau of Parks and Lands
How did you become involved in conservation? It’s definitely the field that has interested me and I’ve put my energies into since college. It’s a nice place to be. It’s something that is my passion and something I’m really connected to on a pretty deep level.
How have you worked to get more Mainers out to enjoy the outdoors? One of the things that I heard pretty clearly was that people were hungry for improved information about where to go; (providing that information) helps people with getting out and sort of reaping the benefits of the outdoors that we have.
What upcoming events are the Bureau of Parks and Lands involved in? There’s the snowshoe hike on Feb. 11 at the Androscoggin Riverlands State Park. That’s an example of one of our conservation partnerships with the Androscoggin Land Trust. The Great Maine Outdoor Weekend is in March. . . . This effort about getting people outdoors and getting reconnected with the outdoors is much broader than certainly just us at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.
What are Mainers missing when they don’t get out and enjoy the state in the winter? There’s a whole bunch of different angles there. I think, psychologically, you can get a little stir crazy if you’re inside. And for me, speaking purely personally, I find just the aesthetics of being out in the wintertime, with all the different activities like ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing . . . the amazing character of these places in the wintertime is just unbelievable. It’s psychologically inspiring. It’s also phenomenally great exercise, whether skiing, snowshoeing — these things are really good for your body as well as your mind. It does take a little bit of investment, making sure you’ve got some good clothing, the right gear and things like that. (But) it’s quite a world that opens up in the wintertime. It’s actually beautiful and inspiring.