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The Island Trail The Newsletter of the Maine Island Trail Association • Fall/Winter 2007

THINKING AHEAD By Kevin Lomangino

With a vanity plate that reads “KAYKR” and a healthy appetite for extended islandhopping paddles along the Trail, Jim Shaffer certainly Jim Shaffer doesn’t strike you as someone who should be planning beyond his own lifetime. But then again, Jim has always been a man of uncommon foresight. Whether he’s taking a bearing in his kayak or plotting the revitalization of a struggling media company, Jim tends to keep his eye on the horizon so that he can spot anything – an oncoming lobsterboat, a new competitor – that might require a course correction. “By nature I’m someone who looks toward the future,” Shaffer says. “The past is to learn from and move on.” (continued on page 6)

What’s Trashing Maine’s Islands?

Debris from the commercial fishing industry, including lengths of rope, traps, and foam from floats and lobster buoys, is the most common type of trash found on uninhabited coastal islands in Maine, according to a new analysis of island cleanup data. Gear and other items related to commercial fishing activities accounted for about two-thirds of the more than 3400 pieces of trash collected on four islands that were part of the study, volunteer cleanup participants reported. Trash from recreational boaters and hunters, including shotgun shells, discarded beverage containers, and food wrappers, comprised nearly all of the remaining trash, or roughly 33 percent of the total. The study was a joint venture between MITA, which contributed the manpower to collect and sort the trash, and the Maine Coastal Program, which provided funding as well as support for sorting and analyzing the data. “The results were interesting but not terribly surprising,” claims MITA’s Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle. “Our findings confirmed what many of us have observed over the years on the islands – that the bulk of the debris in our coastal waters originates close to home and is predominantly a byproduct of having an active, year-round fishing industry.”

An Ambitious Cleanup

Every spring and fall since its inception, MITA has brought volunteers to Maine’s islands to remove accumulated flotsam from the shorelines. Spanning a day or an entire weekend, these island cleanups are volunteer driven and include stops on multiple islands. Typically the only objective of these events is to collect trash from as many islands as possible in the shortest amount of time. In 2007, however, we had a more ambitious goal: to document which kinds of trash are most prevalent on the islands, so that we can understand where it’s coming from and try to devise ways of reducing it. (continued on page 4)

In This Issue Washington County Choppers See page 5

Tireless Efforts Pay Off See page 10

Where Ya Frum? See page 12

Maine Island Trash: Results of a recent survey found that fishing gear was the most common type of debris found on island shorelines. 1

FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR First Impressions By Doug Welch

MITA BOARD OF TRUSTEES Peter Adams, Yarmouth ME Greg Barmore, Harpswell ME • Bill Brown, Brooksville ME • Scott Camlin, Belmont MA Steve Gent, Cape Elizabeth ME • Kathryn Henry, Waitsfield VT • Rodger Herrigel, Phippsburg ME Tony Jessen, Freeport ME • Liz Incze, Cumberland Foreside ME • Chuck Remmel, Portland ME • Joan Smith, Portland ME • Greg Shute, Wiscasset ME Stafford Soule, Freeport ME • Steve Spencer, Augusta ME • Natalie Springuel, Bar Harbor ME Hans Underdahl, Yarmouth ME •Rod Vogel, Cumberland ME • Jeremy Wintersteen, Boston MA STAFF Doug Welch • Executive Director Patricia Dano • Business Manager Tom Franklin • Director of Marketing & Membership Peter Kenlan • Administrative Associate Kevin Lomangino • Newsletter Editor Brian Marcaurelle • Stewardship Manager Dave Mention • Trail Director Peg Willauer-Tobey • Development Coordinator Pro-bono newsletter design services by Jillfrances Gray JFG Graphic Design|Art Direction The Maine Island Trail is a 350-mile long waterway extending from Cape Porpoise on the west to Machias Bay on the east. Along the route, state-owned and private islands are available to members or the public for overnight stopovers where one can picnic or camp in a wilderness setting. The Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) is a nonprofit conservation organization, whose goal is to establish a model of thoughtful use and volunteer stewardship for the Maine islands that will assure their conservation in a natural state while providing an exceptional recreational asset that is maintained and cared for by the people who use it. This goal is achieved by encouraging a philosophy of lowimpact use and environmental awareness among MITA’s members and island visitors. MAINE ISLAND TRAIL ASSOCIATION 58 Fore Street, Building 30, 3rd Floor Portland, ME 04101 (207) 761-8225 •

Vol. 18


No. 2

to enjoy and preserving these island As I reflect on treasures forever.” Happily, what you my first summer seek from MITA is what we believe season at MITA’s we are providing: preserving island helm, one theme access, fostering island stewardship resonates above all others: MITA is and educating island visitors. truly blessed to have It was moving to see how many such a broad base of of you voiced a desire to preserve members, volunteers, island owners, island access—not just for yourselves, and donors. This is without a doubt but for others today and in future the greatest asset a nonprofit can have. generations. Some of you report you Although I have only met a fraction don’t get out to the islands much (or of you in person, I am deeply inspired at all) anymore, but want to make sure by the diversity of perspectives and they are well cared for nonetheless. depth of commitment you bring to the Many of you advised MITA to Maine Island Trail. At the end of the keep focused on its existing mission day, this is a testament to the strength and stay relatively small. I want of our mission and you to know that the reason MITA this sentiment I am proud to lead this continues to thrive is generally nearly 20 years shared by the organization in pursuit into this wonderful Board of Trustees venture. and the partner of our shared, optimistic As many of organizations you will recall, with which I have mission and to have such we sent a survey met. Our biggest a dedicated, diverse cadre challenge for the to all members in the cover of the coming years is to of supporters who 2007 Handbook. ensure the longIn the end, 242 of term sustainability make it all happen. you responded. of the organization The quantitative rather than to results (which you change its mission. can read more about on the opposite On a series of finer points, you page) helped me to gain a sense of responded to possible member member characteristics and priorities services and strategic and tactical on particular items and services. The options MITA could eventually qualitative remarks were typically pursue. Opinions were far from broader in scope and contained sage uniform—especially around use of the advice of new and long-standing Internet—but we are working hard members alike. In general, the tone of to reflect the opinions expressed in your comments reflects a community our planning. In 2008, watch for less of boaters deeply vested in a sense of paper in your mailbox, more content place, who see MITA as the umbrella in your email inbox (please make for your individual and collective sure we have your email address efforts. so you don’t miss out!), changes Although non-members often to the MITA Handbook (which for do not understand MITA’s mission now will remain in paper!) and for well, our members express it clearly enhancements to the website in 2008 and elegantly. You describe us as to provide more services and better “Protecting access to Maine islands for support the community of members. all generations to come,” “Building Finally, MITA’s strong volunteer a stronger conservation ethic,” and component clearly builds a sense of “Providing spectacular places for all ownership in the organization that

is increasingly rare. Several of you wrote, “It’s great that WE are doing a survey,” rather than “It’s great that YOU are surveying members.” And when asked, “What other things could MITA do to better serve your interests?” one of you replied “Funny question. I joined to serve YOUR interests.” Now that’s a MITA member! My conclusion is that people of all different stripes continue to marvel at what we accomplish together and do not want us to change much. You still believe in a mission that might seem quaint for the twenty-first century, in that it is based almost entirely on trust—the trust of island owners in MITA to steward their properties, and the trust of MITA in their members to behave appropriately when visiting these sensitive island environs. Nineteen years later, this trust remains well founded. I am proud to lead this organization in pursuit of our shared, optimistic mission and to have such a dedicated, diverse cadre of supporters who make it all happen. It is a new Executive Director’s wildest dream. For those of you I have yet to meet, I hope the opportunity will eventually arise. But in the mean time, thank you all! Doug welcomes comments from members. You can email him at

By the Numbers

Member Survey Results Highlight MITA’s Diversity Findings from our recent member survey demonstrate the very broad support that MITA enjoys from a variety of constituencies. Predictably, the results showed that the majority of members are kayakers and that most members favor growing the Trail through the addition of new islands. However, members were pretty evenly divided for and against putting the Handbook online, and you cited a wide variety of reasons for supporting MITA. (Island access, island stewardship, and coastal conservation were all popular choices). The following are selected results we thought would be of interest to members. How do you access MITA islands? • 72% kayak • 23% power • 19% sail How many different MITA islands did you visit in 2006, and in how many separate trips? • Avg # of islands, ~6 • Avg # of trips, ~5 What is your primary interest in MITA? • 47% my own access to islands • 27% supporting island stewardship • 24% coastal conservation Where should MITA focus its efforts? • 64% adding islands • 34% adding coastal rivers • 25% offering classes • 11% more volunteer events • 8% more social events Do you live in Maine? • 50% year-round • 18% second home • 14% camp out in ME • 3% rent in ME • 15% other

Do you work? • 61% full time • 12% part time • 26% retired How do you access the Internet? • 67% broadband • 18% dial-up • 14% none Might your prefer that MITA put the Handbook online, (continually updated, password- protected, and printable by members) rather than printing it as a book and mailing it out annually? • 53% no • 47% yes What online features would you use? • 77% island features database • 61% weather/tide data • 42% visitor logs • 40% chart sales • 35% trip planner • 28% classifieds • 13% retail • 8% none

We thank everyone who participated, and welcome additional feedback from anyone who did not receive a survey or was unable to complete it. Send comments to or call 207-761-8225.

Sign Up for the MITA E-Newsletter Want to keep up with MITA between mailings of The Island Trail? MITA’s bimonthly e-newsletter contains updates and information on Trail sites, volunteer opportunities, and many other MITA happenings. Staying connected is easy: just go to our website,, and click the button to sign up.


(continued from page 1)

Island Trash by Source Activity 0%



Fishing & Shipping


Shoreline Recreation

1% 1%

Smoking Related Medical/Personal Hygiene

Most Common Trash Items Rope Buoys/Floats Beverage Bottles (plastic) Bottle Caps, Lids Food Wrappers/Containers Shotgun Shells/Wadding Crab/Lobster/Fish Traps Trap ID Tags Bleach/Cleaner Bottles Oil/Lube Bottles Trap Release Doors Beverage Cans Bait Containers/Packaging Bags (paper or plastic) Balloons Lobster Claw Rubber Bands

22.4% 20.9% 9.6% 5.6% 4.7% 4.1% 3.9% 3.9% 3.2% 2.8% 2.4% 2.3% 2.2% 1.5% 1.3% 1.1%



The project received a green light fact65% that the majority of this debris Activities when the Maine Coastal Program Fishingis& Shipping probably incidental, such as lines Activities provided funding for four specialized cut by motorboat propellers or foam clean-ups that would form the basis of ripped from floats in a storm, is a 33% the study. Using data cards developed positive thing,” he explains. “It means Shoreline by the Ocean Conservancy for its wantonRecreational littering isn’t the biggest Activities International Coastal Cleanup events, culprit on the coast.” But on the dozens of MITA volunteers headed flipside, he notes, having all of that out to designated islands, where they foam disintegrating in our waters 1% 1% diligently marked down each pieceSmoking Related couldMedical/Personal be harmful to marine life and Hygiene of the intertidal zones. Activities of trash they encountered before the health Activities bagging it. The size and weight of the He comments that we are lucky to items were not considered, merely have so many cleanup volunteers, the number and type of each item island adopters and monitor skippers found. The four islands chosen for working diligently to remove this the study were all similar in relative kind of trash from the islands every size and exposure to the open ocean, spring, summer and fall. but spanned four different regions of Other Culprits the coast (Casco Bay, Muscongus Bay, Fishing operations are not solely Penobscot Bay and east of Schoodic responsible for the marine debris, Peninsula) to capture the spectrum of to be sure. Beverage bottles, food marine debris affecting the wrappers, bleach and oil containers, Maine shoreline. shotgun shells and the like were What We Learned all common items found on the Commercial fishing was by far islands and are probably the result the most significant source of island of carelessness or, in some cases, trash, the study found, and the most intentional disposal overboard. In common fishing-related items were other instances, the debris might lengths of rope and pieces of foam have originated from seemingly from buoys or floats. These two items harmless practices such as releasing a combined to account for about 40% of balloon into the wind. Our volunteers the total debris collected during the retrieved 44 balloons from the four four cleanups. islands cleaned in this study. That According to Marcaurelle, these works out to nearly a dozen balloons numbers can be viewed as both good per island—or, if we extrapolate a and bad news for island lovers. “The bit, potentially tens of thousands of 4

balloons scattered across the islands of the Maine coast alone (to say nothing of the mainland!). Such results serve as a sobering reminder that balloons do not simply vanish into the stratosphere when released. In fact, they are deemed a serious hazard to whales and other marine life, who often mistake them for food.

Preventing Trash at the Source

The table on the left lists the most common items found during the study. Some of these items, such as the rope and the buoy shards, appear to be a regrettable but largely unavoidable result of commercial fishing. However, much of the trash would appear to be “preventable” given the right counter-measures. Ultimately, MITA plans to use the information from this study to inform the recreational boating and commercial fishing communities about the amount and type of debris that ends up on Maine’s island shores. It is our hope that through educational outreach, some of those who are deliberately casting trash overboard will reconsider their waste disposal practices, and that others who inadvertently generate litter will find ways to reduce its volume. There is little doubt that wash-up trash will continue to be an unwelcome part of the island landscape for the foreseeable future. But by targeting marine debris at its source, we hope to significantly diminish its impact on both the aesthetics and ecology of Maine’s islands.

MITA would like to thank the generous businesses whose continued support helps us keep Maine’s islands clean. Special thanks go Strouts Point Wharf Company for supplying and servicing MITA’s outboard motors; Waste Management, Inc., for donating dumpster service; and Portland Yacht Services for donating slip space in Portland. We couldn’t do it without you!

Washington County Choppers

Junk Plus Imagination Yields Unique Designs Down East By Hannah Perry Boaters in Maine are accustomed to seeing people access the islands in all manner of crafts, from kayaks to lobster boats to dinghies. Just off Wohoa Bay Down East, however, you may catch a glimpse of what looks like a giant hamster wheel floating silently past. Or perhaps you’ll see someone bobbing along the waves on a suspended elliptical exercise machine. These are the creations of John McMurray, inventor, sculptor and MITA island owner and adopter. McMurray admits that his fantastical contraptions, while usually seaworthy, are not generally his choice of vessel when visiting the nine islands he watches for MITA. In fact, after the giant hamster wheel’s brief and only voyage piloted by his 30something daughter, she christened it the death doughnut. Her father and his friends had been laughing too hard to rescue her at first. Each of the contraptions is constructed entirely from used materials, either retrieved from the dump or recycled from a previous invention. The death doughnut morphed into a hovercraft and the hovercraft became a railroad car; this too has been recently dismantled, awaiting its next incarnation. McMurray grew up in the former Belgian Congo, where material resources were hard to come by, so he learned to reuse what he had in order to make what he needed. He has created vessels entirely out of PVC plumbing pipes, and several tractor inner tubes gave the death doughnut its name. Besides the inventions, McMurray’s property is studded with about 60 of his sculptures, all constructed out of “junk.” Most of these are wind- or tide-powered, influenced by the work of kinetic sculptor George Rickey and other similar artists. But when asked where his inventive impulses originate, McMurray laughs, explaining, “My mind froze at age 12.”

McMurray taught art for many to be practical, functional machines. years at a New England prep school, For McMurray, the spirit of Down but he notes dryly that he was an East Maine is similar to what he unofficial member of the physics enjoyed about his African childhood. department as well, He describes the since the physics overall feel as After the giant hamster teachers “weren’t “funky,” adding equipped to that Mainers are so wheel’s brief and only practice what they self-sufficient that voyage piloted by his preached.” It fell to dump diving can McMurray to ensure be problematic— 30-something daughter, that the students had because people she christened it an understanding of don’t throw away the laws of motion much that could “the death doughnut.” that wasn’t purely still be used. These theoretical. And days he can often be this intersection between art and found motoring around the island he physics has defined McMurray’s life’s owns, Sparrow, and the islands he has work: his creations may be visually adopted for MITA, as he puts it, “just interesting, but they are also designed to make sure they’re still there.”

McMurray’s unique designs combine physics, found materials, and a practical desire to get somewhere. (John McMurray pictured bottom left.) 5

(continued from page 1) and how much they were doing with so little,” he remarks. “This was back in the days when nobody knew what LNT [Leave No Trace] was all about, so MITA was serving a very valuable function in educating people about how to visit the islands.”

Leading the Way on LNT

Jim Shaffer on a recent paddle near Ram Island in Casco Bay.

A Successful Career in Media

It’s a habit that has served him well, helping propel him from the photography dark room at his college newspaper, The Purdue Exponent, into the ranks of senior management at the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, and other national media companies. In fact, his vision is so prized by the newspaper industry that he has been recruited time and again to help turn around underperforming businesses and put them back on the road to profitability. His penchant for making the right calls eventually brought him to Portland, where he ran the Portland Press Herald, as well as 13 other newspapers and media properties, as CEO of Guy Gannett Communications. And it was here that his foresight proved invaluable when he helped broker the sale of the company just before the go-go 90s stock market boom went bust. (Thanks to intense competition from the Internet, the average newspaper today is worth less than half of what it was at the time the Press Herald was sold in 1998, analysts say.) Given his track record, it should perhaps come as little surprise that Shaffer has already given thought to a topic that many of us assiduously avoid. But for Shaffer this is merely one more instance of looking toward the horizon and planning for what comes next. 6

“When you get to certain point,” he comments, from his office at the University of Southern Maine, where he is now dean of the Business School, “it’s only natural that you start to look ahead and think about your own legacy. You wonder: What kind of impact will I have on the world after I leave? What difference will I have made? None of us will be here forever, so you’d like to be responsible for something that transcends your own lifetime.”

A Legacy of Island Stewardship

Much to MITA’s delight, Shaffer and his wife Lynn, a Cape Elizabethbased architect who specializes in green building and design, have decided that one of their enduring legacies will be significant financial support for MITA. Their will provides a bequest that is expected to surpass any single gift that the organization has previously received. The gift came after a great deal of thought, says Shaffer, noting that it reflects his passion for kayaking as well as his long-standing association with MITA as both a member and a donor. His involvement dates back to 1991, he notes, when he first arrived in Maine from Chicago and took up paddling as a way to unwind from his demanding corporate schedule. “I was struck right away by how much passion and energy MITA had

In time, Shaffer would grow from a supporter and advocate of LNT methods to an innovator in his own right. Vexed by the problem of human waste disposal during his adventures, Jim experimented with new methods for transporting waste off the islands in a kayak. His mess-free solution, dubbed the “crap-wrap,” required nothing more than a few sheets of newspaper, some Ziploc bags, and a coat hanger. Impressed with the effectiveness of the technique, MITA asked Shaffer to give a seminar on it at our 2002 Annual Meeting on Warren Island. Shaffer would also go on to pen a MITA newsletter article that described the protocol in detail for members. (See page 318 in the 2007 MITA Stewardship Handbook and Guidebook for the full text of this classic article.) It’s certainly not your typical former-CEO and business school dean who will publicly debate the merits of Tupperware containers versus broadsheet newsprint for catching and storing poop. And yet that willingness to step outside the mainstream is part of the reason Shaffer was drawn to MITA. Jim notes that the appeal of donating to MITA is that his family’s gift, which might constitute a “drop in the bucket” for some larger nonprofit organizations, could have a tremendous long-term impact on an organization of our relatively small size and means. “It’s really an issue of fit, and matching your capacity to give with the needs of the organization,” he says. “Not that some larger places aren’t also doing great work, but given the choice, I’d much rather give my money where I know it will make a significant difference.”

A Grateful Community

He adds that there are charities for which even small planned gifts can Doug Welch, MITA’s Executive make a huge difference in their ability Director, says there is no doubt that to operate effectively over the long the Shaffers’ gift will be felt at MITA term. “Even people of modest means for generations to come. “I think I can can make ‘major’ gifts if they find the speak for the entire MITA community right organization when I say how to support,” he says. grateful we are for Even people of modest Turning his this gift and what strategic vision an honor it is to means can make “major” toward MITA’s be a part of the gifts if they find the right future, Shaffer Shaffers’ legacy,” he says that the remarks. He adds organization to support. organization faces that the gift will a broad array of support our general challenges, from increasing coastal endowment and will help assure the development, to declining interest organization’s long-term sustainability. in outdoor activities among baby “This wonderful gesture has helped boomers, to the potential impacts of us recognize that planned giving can global warming. In fact, he says with a be a huge part of our endowed future, and it’s something we hope to cultivate laugh, there’s really only one thing that he can forecast with certainty about more of as we move forward,” MITA, and that’s that the organization Welch says. will be waiting a good long time for a Shaffer agrees that planned giving check to arrive from the Shaffer estate. could be an important source of “We wouldn’t have it any other support for MITA. He notes that way,” Welch replies, noting that careful estate planning can not only MITA’s strength as an organization limit a donor’s tax liability, but will has always been in its people and not also maximize the donor’s opportunity in its money. But in the meantime, to make the most impact with a Welch says that he hopes Shaffer will planned gift. While acknowledging continue to innovate for MITA in the that not everyone has the income to unique tradition of the crap-wrap. support major philanthropy, he notes “A newspaperman who figured out that many of us have significant assets, how to sell his product as a commode such as homes or other investments, probably has more useful tricks up his that can support a favored charity after sleeve!” Welch exclaims. one no longer needs them.

Thank You MITA Interns

MITA is deeply indebted to this year’s two outstanding summer interns, Allegra Spalding and Hannah Perry. Each made significant and lasting contributions to our efforts by assisting with island stewardship projects and pitching in wherever help was needed at the office. In addition to helping staff with just about every facet of MITA’s operations during the busy summer season, Allegra, now a senior at Bowdoin College, created a series of useful GIS maps and conducted research on marine debris. Meanwhile Hannah, now a sophomore at Barnard College, entered and analyzed several years’ worth of data from island logbooks and used her excellent writing skills to pen several articles for MITA’s publications. (See page 5 in this issue for a sample of Hannah’s clever and creative writing style.) Their collective energy, enthusiasm, and passion for the Maine coast made them invaluable additions to the staff this summer. We are grateful for all their help and hard work.

MITA interns Allegra Spalding (left) and Hannah Perry. 7


The Financial Year in Review The Maine Island Trail Association had a good year in 2006. Although total revenues declined by 8% from 2005, this was largely offset by a decline in total expenses of 6%. We closed fiscal year 2006 with a significant increase of net assets due in part to the acquisition of two new 19’ Lund skiffs and an increase in member revenue. The new boats replaced two existing Lunds, which were generously purchased from MITA by two members. This strengthened the MITA fleet and our ability for staff and volunteers to provide stewardship services. Other revenue lines increased as well. The 14% increase to membership revenues can partly be attributed to the introduction of a MITA tote bag incentive for members who renewed at the $100 level or more. Funds and solicitation efforts saw a 17% increase over 2005, allowing us to support Trail and Stewardship programs at the highest level in MITA’s history. These critical programs would not be possible without the generous support of our members and donors. On the expense side, donations of items, fuel and mileage reimbursements reached an all-time high— reflecting increased activity and higher prices. In 2006, these in-kind donations represented over 5% of MITA’s total expenses, enabling MITA to focus every dollar possible on programs. In addition, volunteerism reached a new level. In 2006, MITA recorded over 6,100 volunteer hours! This is a strong indicator of the passionate commitment of our volunteers, who represent the true power of MITA. In an effort to maximize every dollar donated, MITA increased its financial returns on donated funds by switching them to accounts offering more favorable returns. In the coming year, MITA will be implementing other changes to ensure our financial assets are working to the fullest extent possible in support of our programs. We thank you for your continued support of the Maine Island Trail Association.


Your Dollars at Work Statement of Financial Position Assets



Current Assets Property & Equipment

$282,057 $19,344

$320,345 $29,305

Total Assets



Current Liabilities Net Assets Total Liabilities & Net Assets Statement of Activities Total Support & Revenue

$ 25,207 $276,194 $301,401

$23,518 $326,132 $349,650



Total Expenses



Net Assets - beginning of Period Net Assets - end of Period

$232,234 $276,194

$276,194 $326,132

Liabilities and Net Assets

Revenue & Expenses by Area Revenue and Support Membership Dues Funds & Solicitations Grants & Foundations Events Sponsorship/Advertising Investment Income Other

$203,044 $208,052 $188,849 $3,680 $5,722 $4,210 $3,540

$220,029 $243,316 $ 86,490 $1,403 $8,250 $6,974 $309

Total Revenue & Support



Programs Membership Support Administration Fund Development

$376,922 $30,079 $69,361 $100,926

$348,153 $34,525 $67,307 $94,162

Total Expenses



• MITA added 19 sites to the Maine Island Trail in 2006, and an additional 7 in 2007, bringing us to a total of 162. •In our 2006 spring and fall island cleanups, we removed 250 bags of trash from 108 islands, in addition to many larger items that could not be bagged. •We had more cleanup volunteers in 2006 than before—a total of 103. • Our 30 Monitor Skippers visited islands 230 times during the 12week season. Our Island Adopters made an additional 209 visits. In the process, the islands were again cleared of any trash and monitored for significant changes. •Our seasonal caretaker on Jewell Island in Casco Bay kept that uniquely high-trafficked island wellmanaged during the busy summer season. •Six new private institutions placed sites on the Trail in 2006 and 2007, which means that the number of private institutions that share access to property via the Trail now exceeds the number of private individuals who do so.


Thank you! 9

Tireless Efforts Pay Off on Inner Sand On September 25, volunteers through the thick metal chain. reducing debris from the marine and staff from the Maine Island Retrieving the tires and chain from environment,” remarks Theresa Trail Association joined forces with the island was just one part of the Torrent-Ellis, a Senior Planner with staffers from the Maine Coastal challenge. To answer the question of the Maine Coastal Program. “This Islands National Wildlife Refuge what to do with the debris once it was project fit perfectly with our mission and the Maine Department of Inland back on the mainland, MITA turned and capped off a series of coastal Fisheries and Wildlife to remove a to the Maine Coastal Program, which cleanup efforts as part of Maine large raft of tires that had washed has been a strong ally in marine debris Coastweek.” up on Inner Sand reduction efforts. Marcaurelle claims that the Island in Western The Maine Coastal initiative demonstrates how many of Rolling to a clean up Bay, near Jonesport. Program arranged our toughest problems on the coast Nearly 150 tires, for dumpsters to will have to be tackled—through victory with help from most of them bound be brought to the collaboration. “Whether it’s coastal together by heavylaunch ramp and a access, water quality, open space or numerous partners duty metal link recycler, Corcoran any other big issue you can think of, chain, were taken Environmental the solution is going to reside in lots and volunteers. off of Inner Sand Services of of different groups coming together to and brought to the Kennebunk, ME, work it out,” he observes. mainland for recycling. to haul the tires away. “One objective “This was a wonderful of the coastal program is to foster To sign-up for a spring clean up, contact collaborative effort,” says MITA’s partnerships along the coast to help Brian Marcaurelle at Stewardship Manager Brian us successfully achieve our goal of Marcaurelle, who arranged for MITA volunteer and boat support for the project. “By working together we were able to tackle a challenging marine debris issue both efficiently and effectively.” Inner Sand is a seabird nesting island and a part of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The raft of tires, presumably once belonging to an offshore aquaculture operation or fishing vessel, had washed high up on the shoreline several years ago. The motivation to coordinate the cleanup effort came from MITA volunteers who regularly monitor the condition of nearby Sand Island, which is part of the Maine Island Trail. As Marcaurelle recalls, “They said to me, ‘It’d be nice if we could plan a work party to get those ugly tires off of that beautiful island.’ So that’s what we did!” Staff members of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge were delighted to partner with MITA on this project, as the derelict tires were not only unsightly but also diminished the natural character of the island. The refuge supplied staff help and a large, front-loading vessel to carry the tires to the mainland. MITA volunteers provided additional labor and helpful equipment, including a torch system used to cut With the help of MITA volunteers, a raft of nearly 150 tires was removed from Inner Sand Island. 10


“What new islands are coming on the Trail this year?” For Dave Mention, MITA’s Trail Director, it’s one of the top questions he faces from members and also one of the most difficult to answer. MITA doesn’t own the islands in the Trail system, he notes, and has no direct control over decisions to provide public access to Maine coast properties. He says that while we regularly solicit landowners to consider participating in the Trail, “Ultimately it’s their call as to whether and when they want to get involved.” However, that hardly means that MITA members are powerless to influence this process, Dave observes. He notes that our meticulous stewardship of current Trail islands is a tremendous promotion for the benefits of being on the Trail. He adds that members can also play a role by supporting the local land trusts who purchase coastal property for conservation purposes. “If we want more public access to the coast, we have to get behind those organizations who are buying up properties for open space and wildlife habitat,” he says. The Damariscotta River Association (DRA) is one organization that Dave says members should consider supporting. With nearly 1,500 members and 200 volunteers, the DRA is recognized nationally as a land trust model in a way that is similar to MITA’s leadership role in the water trail movement. They currently hold 40 conservation easements on 1,350 acres and own 31 properties encompassing more than 700 acres of preserved lands. In addition, the DRA assists in the stewardship and management of a variety of other properties—some 750 acres in all—in the Damariscotta rivershed and environs. Dave points out that MITA already partners with the DRA on the management of Hodgsons Island, which the DRA owns, as well as on Dodge Point, a 500-acre

Credit: Joy Vaughan

Damariscotta River Association Exemplifies Role of Land Trusts in Coastal Conservation

Partners in Conservation: (From left to right) MITA Trail Director Dave Mention, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife eagle expert Charlie Todd, MITA Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle, and DRA Director of Lands and Stewardship, Steven Hufnagel.

parcel of public reserved land. We’ve conducted joint clean-ups with them in the past, he adds, noting that our interests will continue to converge as property along the river faces rising development pressure. “We’re in an excellent position to assist the DRA and other landowners with the stewardship of coastal properties,” he comments. “But our role is contingent upon the ability of these organizations to protect properties as they come up for sale.” Steven Hufnagel, the DRA’s Director of Lands and Stewardship, describes MITA and DRA as “natural partners” in support of coastal conservation. He notes that the DRA is plugged into the local community and actively monitors property sales within the Damariscotta region. When an appropriate property comes on the market, he says, “we are in a position to act quickly so that land with significant value is protected for conservation” and, in many cases, public access. Particularly when it comes to islands, however, Hufnagel says that MITA’s unique brand of expertise has come in very handy on several occasions. He notes that the DRA has broad experience protecting and stewarding both island and mainland properties, and that island work has been a core interest of the DRA

from its inception. Nevertheless, he says that when he’s dealing with an especially tricky issue on the islands, it can be helpful to call on Dave Mention or MITA Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle for a consult. “Dave and Brian are my ‘go-to’ guys when it comes to solving especially tough problems on islands or, even more importantly, preventing such problems from arising in the first place,” Hufnagel remarks. He likens the relationship to that of a general practitioner calling for a specialist referral for a tough case. “Even though the GP may know all about the illness and how to treat it, it still can be helpful to get that highly specialized outside perspective,” he comments. How can MITA members get involved with the DRA? Hufnagel says that like MITA, the DRA is always looking for volunteer assistance with its stewardship efforts. But he notes that another very effective way to contribute—especially for those with limited free time—is simply to apply for DRA membership. “Member support provides the resources for us to respond to land protection opportunities and stewardship challenges as they come up,” he says. “If people want to know how they can help us, I would say that’s the number one option.” 11

Where Ya Frum ... In That? By Cap Kane

Log entry from Mahu; August 18, 1928: ...Lost in thick fog off Stonington. Hail lobsterman in dory.

He asks, “Where ya frum?” “Boston,” say we. “In that?” queries he. “Yup,” say we. “JESUS,” responds he, as he rows away.

Log entry from Union; August 6, 2007: ...Hover by bell in thick fog off Bailey Island. Hail lobsterman for course to Mackerel Cove.

“Sixty degrees,” says he. “Thanks,” say we. “Are you lost?” queries he. “Nope,” say we. “Just checking our course.” “Where ya frum?” asks he. “Boston,” respond we. “In that?” “Yup.” “JESUS, that’s kind’a foolish,” says he, as he heads for the next trap. Such is, and apparently has been for the good part of a century, the opinion of sane and knowledgeable Mainers when confronted with a 23foot rowboat on a large ocean, with no apparent reason for being there other than for the joy of “messing about in boats.” Our reason for being where we were on that August day was to follow the course of Bostonians Lothrop Withington and Tommy Richards, who, in 1928, were the first to row the coast of Maine from the Charles River in Boston to St. John, New Brunswick. They did so in two weeks. My partner, Mike Corr, and I held a more modest aspiration: row to Great Cranberry Island, roughly 270 of the 400 miles that our fellow Bostonians covered in about the same time in 1928. (Men were tougher back then.)

Upholding a Tradition

Our adventure (and that of Withington and Richards) was inspired by a tradition of open-ocean rowing from the docks of the Union Boat Club, Boston’s oldest rowing organization, founded in 1851. Up until the time the Charles River was dammed in 1911, Union men headed into the waters of Boston Harbor and 12

And repeat we did, 20 times a minute for six to eight hours a day, generating in the process a speed of four knots per hour. Our concerns about the physical effect of that amount of rowing on our bodies were, in fact, overblown. But for blisters and the need to occasionally stretch our hamstring muscles, we found that rowing an average of 27 miles a day was less punishing than we had anticipated. The psychological punishment was worse; navigating the coast of Maine requires vigilance regardless of the craft one sets off in to explore its wonders.

High-Stakes Hide-and-Seek

In fact, that vigilance was required long before we entered Maine waters. Shortly after rounding Logan airport in Boston Harbor, Maine-like fog rolled in upon us. Sharing Boston beyond for their exercise. Venturing Harbor with 150-foot commuter “down east” seemed a natural ferries traveling at 25 knots is nerveextension of the rowing wanderlust of wracking in the best of sea conditions, that era. but downright terrifying in 50-foot The unchanged opinion of Maine visibility. Headed for Nahant, five lobstermen over a 79-year period miles across open ocean from Logan’s was in keeping with the virtually runways, we could only pray that we unchanged equipment that we would not be run down. utilized to follow in our forbears’ My dead reckoning navigation wake. Their Mahu and our Union skills were severely tested when were made of wood. They, as we, Nahant did not appear when we rowed on sliding seats. We, as they, “reckoned” it should. Given the late steered by compass hour of that first course alone. Our afternoon, I said to equipment list read My dead reckoning Mike that Nahant be much as theirs, navigation skills were damned, we had to differing mostly head due west to hit severely tested when in the use of nylon whatever land might instead of canvas Nahant did not appear when be there. Five strokes for tents, raingear we “reckoned” it should. later, there was and stow bags. Nahant, right where However, we did Mother Nature not hesitate to utilize a VHF radio for had put it. Relieved, we picked our weather updates and cell phones for way along the rest of the shoreline to calls home. (How did those guys in Marblehead and a halt to eight hours ’28 do without?) of non-stop rowing our first day out. Our few concessions to modernity Bigelow Bight, the chart maker’s notwithstanding, rowing is rowing name for the unrelenting coastline and the dynamic of body and brain is between Cape Ann and Cape unchanged from century to century. Elizabeth, is a daunting piece of water Blade in, push with the legs, pull with to contemplate from the seat of a 23foot boat with 18 inches of freeboard. the arms, blade out…repeat.

Credit: Cap Kane

Mike Corr (pictured) and Cap Kane battle the fog in Boston Harbor.

I had been fretting for weeks about the possibility of too much wind from the east, with no place to hide from building seas. Even with our plan to stay within a mile of shore, a rogue wave could have put us in the 60degree water with little chance of a quick rescue. When we finally reached the shelter of the islands of Casco Bay after four days of crossing “the Bight,” my neck muscles finally relaxed from what I thought would be a permanent tick to the east.

Shelter in a Storm

Casco Bay was also our introduction to the Maine Island Trail. A friend with whom we stayed at Prout’s Neck advised that we take the inside passage around Portland’s islands if the wind picked up outside. When our wind meter read 20 knots from the southeast as we rounded Portland Head light, we were grateful for that voice of experience. A lovely, calm, sunlit row past Long Island to Little Chebeague affirmed that wisdom. Armed with the directions from the MITA Handbook for where to camp, we were happily sipping a cold beer on the east side of Little Chebeague, contemplating our good fortune to be off the water in advance of building thunderheads and the forecast of severe winds for the rest of the afternoon. The joy of island-hopping from Casco Bay to points east needs

no further explanation, for such pleasures are well known to the cruising yachtsman and, thanks to MITA, kayakers and small boaters such as ourselves. We enjoyed the full range of the experience: quiet coves, nesting eagles, curious seals, friendly locals, changing scenery. Our track saw us camping again at Small Point, then off for a two-day respite with friends in Christmas Cove, overlooking the “Thread of Life” in Johns Bay. The next morning’s thick fog forced us close to shore around Pemaquid Point before striking out for Tenants Harbor under clearing skies that afternoon. Howling northwest winds kept us in the shelter of the Muscle Ridge Channel the morning we left Tenants, but we crossed Penobscot Bay in a dying breeze and dropping swell later that day.

Membership Sales at Old Quarry

A Beautiful Place

Our reward for a long day’s row was to camp at Little Hen Island on the east side of Vinalhaven. It was our last night out and we could not have been in a more beautiful place, physically or psychologically. Clear skies, warm air, hot food, cold beer. Life does not get better. Union’s bow slid onto the sand of Spurling Cove on Cranberry at 3:30 p.m. the next afternoon, a quiet end to quite a good row. When Withington and Richards arrived safely in St. John, they had this to say about their experience: August 24, 1928: Both Withington and Richards agree that the past two weeks have been about the best vacation ever. Plenty of hard work; many amusing experiences; many kind and thoughtful acquaintances made; a few tough knocks; a first hand knowledge of the damn East United States coast from a wherry standpoint which few, if any others, have; a profound respect for our craft’s seaworthy qualities which would satisfy the most skeptical; and last but not least, a friendship that can never be broken. We felt much the same. Cap Kane resides in Duxbury, MA.

Bill Baker and Mylisa Vowles will be accepting MITA applications at their recreation facility near Stonington.

In order to improve communication with island visitors in the popular Merchants Row area near Stonington, MITA is teaming up with Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, a local campground, outfitter and recreation center, to provide immediate on-site membership application processing. Old Quarry proprietor Bill Baker, a long-time MITA member and stewardship partner, will accept applications, forward the materials to the MITA office, and give new members a current Membership Handbook and Guidebook right on the spot. As MITA Trail Director Dave Mention explains, the system is designed to reach more island visitors with the Leave No Trace message before they hit the water. “Many people will arrive in the area planning to visit the islands, but they aren’t MITA members and they aren’t familiar with the stewardship ethic we’re trying to promote,” he comments. “This helps us to engage those individuals before they get in their boats, and should hopefully result in better-informed island visitors.” 13

ISLAND OWNER PROFILE On Big Baker, Island Access Is a Forbes Family Tradition

Credit: Douglas Forbes

When brothers Douglas and Eben Forbes inherited an untamed 25-acre paradise off of Swans Island, there was no doubt in their minds as to what they were going to do with it. “The greatest improvement you can make to a place like that is simply to leave it alone and enjoy it,” Douglas says. Big Baker, as the outsized hunk of granite is known at MITA (others call it “Outer Baker”), has been in the Forbes family for three generations and has been part of the Trail since the early 1990s. Although its unfettered views of the Atlantic would make it an unparalleled site for a vacation home, the idea of building or otherwise “improving” the island has never appealed to the family, says Douglas.

Upholding a Tradition

He credits this outlook to his grandparents, Alexander and Charlotte Forbes, as well as his parents, Irving & Margery Forbes, who emphasized the intrinsic value of the land in its natural state over its value as an economic asset. “It’s been a wild place for as long as we’ve owned it, and my family has always felt strongly that the public should have access to it,” Douglas comments. He notes that long before kayakers discovered the property, fishermen from the area had been using the island as a picnic spot. And he recalls that his grandfather, Alexander Forbes, had always maintained that people from the local community should be welcome to use the island for recreation. So when his turn came to manage the property, Douglas adds, “there was a family tradition in place and I felt that we should continue to uphold that tradition.” Noting that he is in the fortunate position of not needing to sell the property, Douglas says that he would never fault someone who had to tap the cash value of their land to pay for important obligations. Nevertheless, this graduate student in conservation biology feels that intangible benefits of wilderness often get short shrift when decisions about property are made. 14

Lida Forbes (right) helps introduce Nicholas (left) and Jeremy Forbes to the value of wild islands.

“To my way of thinking,” he explains, “keeping the island wild and open to the public actually serves three separate purposes. Not only is it a habitat for wild living things, but it’s also a place for outdoor education—a place where people can be exposed to wilderness and hopefully be convinced to help preserve it.” He adds that its third important role is as a recreational destination for boaters – “a place where people can get away if they aren’t fortunate enough to own their own islands.”

Western Influences

Douglas notes that his outlook on wilderness was influenced by his experiences living in the western United States, where wide-open public spaces are the norm rather than the exception. He remarks that a big part of the appeal of MITA is that it replicates the public access of the West while working within the confines of the private property system prevalent here. “In places like California and Colorado,” Douglas comments, “there are vast national forests and parks all over the place, so it’s easier

in a way to appreciate the value that land has in its natural state.” In the East, by contrast, “there’s not a lot of public land, so it’s more difficult to experience wild places unless you own the property or can access it through an organization like MITA.” Douglas and Eben welcome MITA members to Big Baker, which is home to significant plant species such as seaside lungwort and which is frequented by bald eagles that nest on nearby islands. He encourages visitors to “take their time on the island, explore its small trail system, check out the tide pools, ponder their existence in a wild setting, and feel free to collect and haul out some beach trash if they can.” He notes that “As a society, we are moving farther from the great outdoors with every passing generation,” adding that “some have gone so far as to identify a ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ among our children.” To help counteract this troubling trend, he asks that members “Do something in their communities to expose people, especially kids, to nature.”

Pawle Wins Top Honor Recognizing his 15 years of dedicated service as a Monitor Skipper, MITA is pleased to announce that Robbie Pawle has received the 2007 Margaret C. Emerson Stewardship Award, our highest honor for volunteerism in support of the islands. Pawle was among the dozens of volunteers feted at the annual Stewardship Party held in August at the Rockport Boat Club. (See the full list of award winners at right.) In addition to being a Monitor Skipper, Robbie assists MITA stewardship activities by providing free boat storage space for MITA at his home in Falmouth. This is no small gesture, notes Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle, as Pawle will regularly host one or two MITA workboats, as well as other boats that have been donated to us so that we can resell them, on his residential lot. “There are times when someone driving by would probably think it’s a boat yard instead of someone’s house,” Brian comments. “But Robbie’s been helping out for years and he’s always very welcoming to us. I don’t know what we’d do without him.” MITA sends a hearty thank you and congratulations to all award winners and to everyone who supports Trail stewardship!

Praise for Departing Trustees MITA bids a fond and grateful farewell to two stalwart Trustees— Steve Spencer and Annette Naegel— who have been with the organization from the beginning and whose presence will be sorely missed in our offices and on the Trail. As Recreational Specialist at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, Steve Spencer was a key champion of the Trail in its earliest days and has served as our liaison at the Bureau for nearly two decades. He has partnered with us on countless work projects and programs, and has been very instrumental in helping to educate island visitors about LNT practices. In recognition of his remarkable efforts, MITA in 2006 presented Steve with the Margaret C. Emerson Stewardship Award, our highest honor for work in support of the Trail. Although Steve will be leaving MITA and the Maine coast, he will be maintaining an interest in islands from his new home in the South Pacific. Steve and his wife Libbey are moving to the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where Libbey has a two-year teaching position at the University of the South Pacific. Steve will also be keeping busy as

a consultant helping to plan the development of the nation’s first national park. We wish them both the best as they embark on this exciting new adventure half a world away! Like Steve, Annette Naegel was an important early advocate of the Trail who helped shape our current culture of island stewardship. As director of the Island Institute’s communitybased science program, Annette was responsible for ecological monitoring on islands at the time MITA, then a subsidiary of the Institute, was just getting its sea legs. Among her many important contributions, Annette helped plan and initiate our current efforts to track and mitigate impacts from island camping. In addition, she has been an invaluable source of scientific expertise and inspiration over the many years she has actively participated as a volunteer and Trustee. With a way that is both gentle and highly effective, Annette has touched many lives at MITA has left a lasting impact on Maine’s islands and the people who love them. We wish Annette great success in the many other conservation-related efforts she continues to lead on the Maine coast!

Stewardship Award Winners

Please join us in saluting the many tireless volunteers recognized at this year’s Stewardship Party: Adopter Award The MDI Paddlers (too many to list individually) Monitor Award Ben Fuller Cleanup Award Dave and Deb Morrill Office Support Award Mary O’Meara Most Valuable Partner Maine Audubon

Thank You Donors!

MITA recognizes the many generous businesses that contributed to the wonderful spread at this year’s Stewardship Party. Please support the businesses that support MITA! Street & Company Restaurant Morrison’s Maine Course Sebago Brewing Company Browne Trading Company Sweet Sensations Bakery Wild Oats Natural Marketplace Aurora Provisions State of Maine Cheeses Arabica Coffee Co Saltwater Grille The Standard Baking Company Vaughan Street Variety Market Micucci’s DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant Caiola’s The Market Basket Supper at Six Harmon’s & Barton’s Flowers Shaw’s Supermarkets, Inc Wal-Mart RSVP Discount Beverages Great Lost Bear Restaurant Hannaford Brothers


Wish List

MITA is always eager to consider donations of anything from boats and vehicles to office equipment. Please call us at 207-761-8225 or email if you would like to donate these or other items. STEWARDSHIP SUPPLIES


• Long-handle loppers

• Server to replace Pentium 4 CPU (2.8 GHz with 1GB RAM)

• Tree pruning saw • Tent-safe lantern • High strength cordage • Working handheld VHF radios • Throwable buoyant boat cushions • Danforth anchors (8 lb or smaller) • Adult-sized raingear (to be used as spare foul weather gear)

• Printer(s) with bulk envelope printing capacity • Computer chairs/ergonomic equipment • Document shredder • Portable projector screen • Vacuum cleaner • Electric letter folder

• Dry bags

• Small refrigerator

• Fishing/landing nets for workboats (to retrieve floating trash)


• Tarps (all sizes)

• Sponsorship of Annual Meeting/ Stewardship Party


• Volunteer office help

• Boats (sailboats, powerboats, dinghies, kayaks, etc.) of any size in seaworthy condition

• Volunteers for outreach booth staffing

• 25-40 HP 4-stroke motor for caretaker boat • 5 HP long-shaft outboard motors (kickers for MITA workboats)

Show Your Support with MITA Apparel Looking for another great way to support MITA? Why not choose one that makes you look great in return? Our new line of MITA apparel is made of top-quality material and locally embroidered on the Maine coast. Choose from a variety of items in a range of styles and colors, including: • Baseball caps • Fleece vests and jackets • Denim long sleeve shirts • Polo shirts • T-shirts Check out our website for product and ordering information, www.

58 Fore Street, Bldg. 30, 3rd Floor PORTLAND, ME 04101 MAINE ISLAND TRAIL ASSOCIATION



Winter 2007  

New Executive Director Doug Welch reflects on his first season at MITA and an island owner invents a very creative method for visiting the i...

Winter 2007  

New Executive Director Doug Welch reflects on his first season at MITA and an island owner invents a very creative method for visiting the i...