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Sandwich's Longtime Natural Resources Chief Departs 7-21-17

Sandwich's Longtime Natural Resources Chief Departs
By TAO WOOLFE Jul 21, 2017

The Sandwich Enterprise

Mark S. Galkowski, conservationist, hunter, sailor, storyteller, teacher, and longtime town employee, will never escape his most famous act: reintroducing wild turkeys to Cape Cod.

"Now they're the rats of Cape Cod," said Town Manager George H. (Bud) Dunham, who could not resist roasting his colleague during a retirement bash for the outgoing director of natural resources.

On a gentler note, Mr. Dunham said Mr. Galkowski's stewardship had shaped the character of Sandwich.

"Mark has had a lot to do with our quality of life," Mr. Dunham said. "He has done a lot of things that make Sandwich, Sandwich."

Among them are preserving the Boyden Farm Conservation Lands, managing and creating open space, restoring the beach and town shellfish beds, and spearheading the Shawme Dam and fish ladder restoration projects.

Mr. Galkowski went to work in Sandwich in December 1987. Previously, the Providence native had worked for the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries—which he calls "Marine Fish"—and the Town of Barnstable. He lived in Yarmouth and served as an on-call firefighter there for 27 years.

Early in his Sandwich tenure, the new Sandwich natural resources director was advised by one of his bosses to be less of a conservation cop and "more like Smoky the Bear," Mr. Galkowski said in an interview this week. "I'm still not sure what he meant, since Smoky has to do with forest fires, but that's what he said."

But Mr. Galkowski did spend time putting out administrative fires. He and a part-time administrative assistant comprised the Natural Resources Department. He and his assistant had to do everything, including disaster cleanup, land conservation, overseeing the conservation commission, and policing town and state regulations.

The job was busy, but the town's small size kept it manageable.

"For the longest time there was nobody here—no houses," Mr. Galkowski said. A building boom in the mid-1980s changed all that, adding many more houses to Sandwich.

An avid hunter since his days of working for Marine Fish, Mr. Galkowski said the hunting in Sandwich was wonderful before civilization intruded, but he is philosophical about it.

"It's like everywhere else on the Cape: everybody likes it and wants to move here and then that changes it," Mr. Galkowski said. "It is what it is."

Mr. Galkowski became a member of the National Wild Turkey Federation in 1981, which is how he became part of the group that reintroduced the big birds to the Cape. Mr. Galkowski and others released 18 birds into the woods at Otis Air Force Base on March 2,1989.

"It was historic," Mr. Galkowski said of the event. "And it was a blast."

Mr. Galkowski is a good hunter, according to some of his hunting buddies who attended the retirement party at Oakcrest Cove last Friday.

"He's one of the better turkey callers I've ever heard," friend and fellow Wild Turkey Federation member Perry Ellis said.

Mr. Galkowski helped found the local federation chapter. And he is a senior hunter education instructor for the group, which was founded in 1973 and has brought the wild turkey population from 1.5 million to 7 million. The federation supports wildlife and habitat conservation across the country, according to its website.

Mr. Galkowski said his experiences on and off the job helped him succeed.

In his role as biologist with the state and later, as a natural resources officer for Barnstable, Mr. Galkowski often found himself on shellfish patrol and that knowledge helped him later to reintroduce quahogs to Sandwich waters.

Hurricanes in the 1990s gave him a crash course in coastal erosion and dune restoration. The previous owner of the canal power plant would dredge the canal and dump the dredged sand on the beach for free. Mr. Galkowski had to secure state permits for the work, he said, adding that he learned much about navigating bureaucracies that way.

Mr. Galkowski said he is most proud of his work on the Upper Shawme Dam and fish ladder restoration and the work camper program at Ryder Conservation Land that allows campers to stay on the property in return for making repairs and cleaning up the area.

"We get more than our money's worth with that program," he said.

Working as a department head in one town for as long as Mr. Galkowski did, one is bound to attract criticism from some residents. Mr. Galkowski is no exception. But there was no evidence of it at his retirement party, or, this week, around his office.

People who have worked for Mr. Galkowski over the years said they will miss him.

"I'm his biggest fan," said Michelle Raymond, who runs the office that houses the health, natural resources and building departments. "I love him."

David J. DeConto, Mr. Galkowski's successor as natural resources director, said he has learned much from his boss over the years.

"He knows everybody in the federal, state, and local governments," Mr. DeConto said. "I have big shoes to fill."

Mr. Galkowski says he does not want to stop working. He recently earned his captain's license and plans to work for the ferry services. He will also be available to help Mr. Dunham, Mr. DeConto, and anyone else who needs his assistance.

"I'm happy to help—anytime," Mr. Galkowski said. "People have helped me through my whole career. I've been lucky."

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