Reflections on Tom Howe
Gone from us too soon.
I have been privileged to know Tom Howe as a colleague and a friend. Tom’s energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Among his passions were land conservation and fly fishing. He was accomplished at both; among the very best I have known.
Tom approached his job at the Forest Society with dedication, intelligence, and hard work. He was detail oriented and forward looking. These traits are reflected in the Forest Society’s conservation easement template, which Tom principally rewrote several years ago. His years as a land conservation professional lead him to understand the needs of both grantors and grantees in easement transactions, as well as what is necessary to truly conserve natural resources. I found him to be always seeking solutions to move worthy projects to their successful conclusion.
I recall following Tom up a very steep trail on the Moose Mountains Reservation on one of the hottest days this past summer on a grant application review with staff from LCHIP. We were all soaked and dragging (at least I was) by the time we got to the top to examine a unique upper elevation natural community and attempt to locate a previously lost corner. Tom knew generally where the corner should be but had not been able to find it. Regardless of the heat and terrain, Tom’s enthusiasm never waned and, after considerable effort, we stumbled upon the lost corner and resurrected a cut and marked post that identified the location. Tom was thrilled.
In recent years I had the pleasure of occasionally fly fishing with Tom for trout and stripers. His passion for fly fishing and his angling skill is the stuff of legend. However, perhaps even more important to Tom, was his passion for sharing his knowledge with others. He had a long list of friends with whom he generously shared his experiences and always offered to take to a stream or lake to help them experience the fishing that he had discovered. Discovered is the right word, as he was continually trying new spots in search of new fishing experiences. As an example, this past summer Tom caught a 28” carp weighing near 20 lbs in the canals in downtown Lawrence MA. He said catching a large carp on a fly allowed him to check off an item on his fishing bucket list. Tom targeted and caught a number of large fish over the past year, including a 23” rainbow trout (“largest trout of my life”) and a 40” striped bass. Of the striper, Tom wrote, “it was most satisfying returning the magnificent fish to its habitat”.
Tom will be in my thoughts this year as I fish the 1.8mile section of the Ammonoosuc River in Bethlehem that runs through a 273acre tract that was one of the last conservation projects Tom completed. Among the things I will think about is how many more trout Tom would be catching. More importantly, I will think about Tom himself - his patience and his kindness. Most of all, I will think about how sad it is that he cannot be there with me.
Trustee, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests