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Airboat will help wardens help others in disasters

AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine — The Maine Warden Service and first responders in northern Maine received a new airboat to deploy during emergencies and natural disasters.

According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, this is the only airboat asset in all of northern Maine, an area which encompasses all of Aroostook County and parts of northern Piscataquis and Penobscot counties. DIFW purchased the new airboat earlier this year from Diamondback Airboats in Florida.

Just last week, first responders deployed the craft to help several residents of Westmanland as the rising waters of Madawaska Stream caused homeowners to become isolated in their homes. The airboat brought one woman to safety and carried supplies to other families stranded by high water.

The boat’s features include a reinforced hull, hydraulic ice break, custom stainless steel dive ladder as well as polymer-covered hull for extra protection on rough ice and other surfaces. The airboat measures 20 feet long and 8 feet wide, and has a 550-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged motor.

The Maine Warden Service obtained a grant for $10,000 from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund (MOHF) for the purchase of the new airboat, which cost $83,000 including shipping from Florida to Maine. Aroostook EMA, area town managers, police chiefs and fire departments including Ashland, Presque Isle, Caribou, Fort Fairfield, and Fort Kent also supported the project.

DIFW officials said the airboat is suited perfectly for river work and provides an excellent platform for search and rescue and dive team recovery efforts. It will be stored at a donated facility that is secure, heated, and maintained for year-round access and deployment.

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