The Island Trail T h e N e w s l e tt e r o f t h e M a i n e I s l a n d T r a i l A s s o c i at i o n
20th Anniversary Issue ‘An Outstanding Waterway’
See page 2.
Success Was No Surprise
See page 3.
Twenty years of model behavior
See page 4.
See page 8.
Getchell Recognized for Conservation Efforts The Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT), the largest land trust in the state of Maine which partners with MITA on a number of Trail islands, has selected MITA founder Dave Getchell, Sr. as its 2007 Espy Land Heritage Award winner. The award is given annually by MCHT in recognition of exemplary conservation efforts in Maine. “Dave has shown a rare combination of vision, inspiration, cooperative spirit and on-the-ground accomplishment during nearly three decades of conservation work in the state of Maine,” said David MacDonald, MCHT interim President, at the award presentation. continue page 6
A Trail Without Footprints B y Dav i d R . G e tc h e l l , S r .
When the Maine Island Trail was conceived some 20 years ago we had high hopes, but not on the scale that has evolved over the past two decades. Created under the umbrella of the Island Institute in 1988 and spun off as an independent organization in 1993, the Maine Island Trail Association, competently directed first by Cate Cronin and then by Karen Stimpson and Doug Welch, is a resounding success. In the process, the organization has borne out the validity of two ideas that were originally scoffed at by many doubters. The first was that owners of private islands would permit use of their lands by boaters who might potentially number in the hundreds. The truth belied the worries of the skeptics: dozens of privately owned islands were opened to use by MITA members, but the overwhelming numbers of users never materialized because of the huge size of the island trail with its many prime landing sites to choose from. The second idea was to trust the care of the islands to the users without oversight by rangers or other authorities. Left to themselves but subscribing to a strong ethic of stewardship promoted by the Maine Island Trail Association, members have compiled an outstanding record of care in return for the privilege of enjoying some of the most beautiful islands on the Maine coast. What has particularly pleased many of us who started the whole thing is that MITA has been an important steadying influence during the national boating boom of the past 20 years. continue page 7
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‘An Outstanding Waterway for Small Boats’ Twenty Years of America’s First Water Trail by Doug Welc h
MIT A B O A RD O F TRUSTEES Peter Adams, Yarmouth, ME Greg Barmore, Harpswell, ME Bill Brown, Brooksville, ME Scott Camlin, Belmont, MA Kathryn Henry, Waitsfield, VT Rodger Herrigel, Phippsburg, ME Liz Incze, Cumberland, Foreside, ME Tony Jessen, Freeport, ME Melissa Paly, Kittery, ME Chuck Remmel, Portland, ME Joan Smith, Portland, ME Greg Shute, Wiscasset, ME Stafford Soule, Freeport, ME Alan Stearns, Augusta, ME Hans Underdahl, Yarmouth, ME Rod Vogel, Cumberland, ME Jeremy Wintersteen, Boston, MA Julie Wormser, Littleton, MA
ST A FF
Doug Welch • email@example.com Executive Director
Patricia Dano • firstname.lastname@example.org Business Manager
Tom Franklin • email@example.com Director of Marketing & Membership
Eliza Ginn • firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing & Membership Manager
Peter Kenlan • email@example.com Administrative Associate
Kevin Lomangino • firstname.lastname@example.org Newsletter Editor
Brian Marcaurelle • email@example.com Stewardship Manager
Dave Mention • firstname.lastname@example.org Trail Director
Peg Willauer-Tobey • email@example.com Development Officer
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 low-impact use and environmental awareness among MITA’s members and island visitors.
M A INE ISL A ND TR A IL A SS O CI ATI O N
58 Fore Street, 30-3 Portland, ME 04101 (207) 761-8225 • firstname.lastname@example.org Vol. 18 No. 2 2
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The 20th Anniversary of the Maine Island Trail has provided a great opportunity for reflection and perusal of MITA’s archives. Of particular note was a pithy November 1987 one-page column by Dave Getchell, Sr. in Small Boat Journal which he titled “The Island Trail.”
Dave requested letters of interest from his readers and received many responses. At an early meeting, the first dozen or so people involved in the planning of this new association drew lots for the first member numbers. Kayaking legend Ken Fink drew #1, our dear friend Steve Spencer got #4, and Dave Getchell drew #9. Now, 20 years later, over 20,000 people have been members of the Maine Island Trail Association.
In it, Dave described a study completed Dave also made the bold argument under the auspices of the Island that the creation of the Maine Island Institute concerning the wild islands Trail would not draw hordes of small of Maine—How many boaters due to the were there? Who remote nature of the owned them? What In retrospect, the idea islands themselves. could be done to use of a water trail was a This has been and protect these substantiated by the Maine innovation. magical, fragile places? And every MITA member very gradual nature Led by Dave, a small of MITA’s growth group of visionaries has been part of it. over time—even began formulating a when sea kayaking plan. He recalls that boomed in the 1990s. The Maine Island “In studying this bounty, it occurred Trail has not been (and will never be) to me that here was a rare chance to the recreational choice of the masses. develop an outstanding waterway for Dave further claimed that this limited small boats.” In hindsight, these words group of small boat visitors would be launched the concept of a modern personally compelled and capable of recreational water trail. taking care of the islands with relatively Now, 20 years later, the American Canoe little external persuasion. The excellent Association reports that some 500 water physical condition of the islands—and trails have been developed nationwide. the seaborne origins of the vast The concept has become well known to majority of what our skippers and almost any American who owns a boat. cleanup crews pull from the islands— In retrospect, the idea of a water trail supports this claim. was a Maine innovation. And every MITA So as the staff prepares for a busy member has been part of it. 2008 season of island cleanups, But if that were not enough for a onemonitoring, and events, we are also page essay, Dave went on to consider pleased to have the opportunity to issues of management of this “Island reflect on the far-reaching ideas that Trail.” He suggested that “a proper job spawned the mission we love—a can be done only through a formal mission paradoxically as consistent organization whose sole purpose is to over 20 years as it was audacious at the develop and maintain a trail—a Maine time—to protect and enjoy the wild Island Trail Association, so to speak, islands of Maine. We offer our sincere made up of members who believe an gratitude to Dave Getchell and his early island waterway should exist and are peers whose vision continues to inspire willing to work toward that goal.” us and our members to this day.
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Success Is No Surprise to MITA’s Earliest Members b y K e v i n Lo m a n g i n o
The members who helped found MITA 20 years ago say that they are gratified, humbled, and proud of the way that their fledgling organization has endured and grown.
“[Kayakers] were really one of the first groups to rally around this whole concept because we were out there all the time,” Fink says. “Most of us had already been long-term practitioners of camping out on the islands.”
But one thing they aren’t is surprised. “When you have someone with the But a problem these paddlers increasingly skills of Dave Getchell behind it, encountered was not knowing where especially at the beginning, you know they were welcome to land, says Tom that it’s going to succeed,” says Tom Roeber, MITA member #6. “You want to Goettel, who is member #2 in the go out and see the islands, but which MITA database. Goettel played what he ones is it ok to visit?” is how Roeber describes as a very small, but fulfilling, describes the dilemma. “You probably role in MITA’s birth by helping to broker don’t know who owns the island, so you property access agreements between don’t even who to ask if it’s ok.” MITA and his employer, the U.S. Fish MITA’s approach to and Wildlife Service. the problem was an He credits Getchell’s “One thing about Dave’s elegant one, according determined leadership to Roeber, because it vision for the future is for lending an air of identified appropriate inevitability to the MITA that he really had 20/20 access points while enterprise from its very eyesight on it,” Fink says. also calming any beginning. “I think it’s misgivings island “It was an idea that was great and wonderful owners might have bound to succeed, and that it’s grown the had about recreational way it has, but it’s not nobody could stop it even users on their property. surprising,” he adds. if they tried to.” “The concern that Ken Fink, the prominent any landowner has is sea kayaking instructor that they don’t want who also holds the distinction of being somebody to come in and trash the MITA member #1, agrees. “One thing place,” Roeber explains. about Dave’s vision for the future is that Proof of Concept he really had 20/20 eyesight on it,” Fink Bill Gerber, Jr., MITA member #13, says. “It was an idea that was bound to is another early booster who found succeed, and nobody could stop it even Getchell’s vision difficult to resist. if they tried to.” He says that his interest in a coastal Rallying to the Banner water trail dated as far back as the Everyone involved in the Trail’s early early 1970s. It was then that he and days acknowledges that Getchell’s some fellow adventurers canoed from contributions were pivotal. However, South Portland to Pemaquid following they say his concept would likely have traditional Native American paddling foundered if not for the paddlers and routes. They eventually set up a multiconservationists who quickly flocked day canoe route that connected the to his banner. Fink recalls that he and Appalachian Mountain Club’s Beal other sea kayakers immediately saw the Island and Knubble Bay Camp with value in Getchell’s proposed use of the several state- and privately owned islands for low-impact recreation. islands in the area.
Ken Fink addresses members at the 1994 annual conference on Warren Island. Credit: Lee Bumsted
“We ran about five years or so before I caught wind of the fact that Dave Getchell was trying to set up a longer route along the coast of Maine,” Gerber recalls. He says that the news of a potential statewide trail prompted him to pay a visit to Getchell up in Rockland to compare notes. The two discussed Gerber’s experience on the South Portland to Pemaquid route and its implications for the state-wide trail that Getchell had in the works. “I told Dave, basically, ‘Look, we have put in a year of camping nights along this coastal canoe trail, so there’s a basis for what you’re doing that says it can be done fairly safely,’” Gerber says.
While the confidence of the Trail’s early supporters would ultimately prove to be well-founded, setting a course for a sustainable future required some deft maneuvering among the rocks and shoals of island politics. Fink tells of an early proposal—rejected by the narrowest of margins—that would have scuttled the Trail as we know it in favor of a sort of “island preserve” that would likely have had limited public access. Similarly, Gerber describes feeling great apprehension as to whether private landowners could be convinced to share their property with MITA visitors. continue page 7
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Twenty Years of Model Behavior You would think that MITA’s pioneers would have been happy to start the nation’s first recreational water trail and call it a day. But the mission of our organization has always been about more than one trail or even one region. In addition to building a unique asset that boaters could enjoy along the coast of Maine, MITA has actively fostered partnerships with other water trails all across North America. This cooperation has yielded great benefits for us in terms of new ideas and fresh perspectives on a variety of issues. And representatives from our partner trails suggest that they, too, have found value in hearing about our experiences here in Maine.
Northern Forest Canoe Trail
Kate Williams, Executive Director of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT), says that the assistance of MITA Trail Director Dave Mention has come in handy on a number of occasions. She notes that the 740-mile NFCT, founded in 2000 and officially dedicated in 2006, traverses the largest intact ecosystem east of the Mississippi. She adds that that while promoting recreation in this area, NFCT has also tried to be thoughtful about recreation carrying capacity issues. She believes that MITA has helped to demonstrate how conservation and access can both be accommodated in sensitive wilderness settings. “Dave has actively gotten us more directly connected to Leave No Trace, which is going to be a critical thing for us going forward,” Williams says. “He’s really been at the forefront in terms of spreading the LNT word and getting people motivated about it.” The NFCT has also grappled with how to steward an extensive trail that spans four states, intersects with numerous regulatory authorities, and even crosses the border into Canada. MITA’s approach to stewardship isn’t necessarily the solution to this challenge, according to Williams. Nevertheless, “it has been really helpful to talk with Dave 4
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about how MITA’s programs operate and how they’re structured,” she says. “The information has been very useful and we’re grateful that he’s been so generous with his time.”
Florida Paddling Trails Association
At the Florida Paddling Trails Association (FPTA), meanwhile, president Hank Brooks faces similar challenges. The FPTA started up in 2007, to act as stewards of the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail—a 1550-mile route that stretches from Pensacola on the Gulf Coast, down through the Keys, and up the Atlantic Coast to Georgia. In addition to trying to coordinate the Trail’s nine regions and 26 individual segments, Brooks also has the daunting task of setting up the infrastructure and systems for the association’s fledgling six-month-old operation. Brooks, a retired business consultant who now works as a full-time volunteer at the association, says that MITA’s assistance has meant that he doesn’t have to “recreate the wheel” in some areas. “When you’re starting something from scratch and you’re in the dark, it’s nice to have someone who can turn on the lights for you,” he says. “MITA has been very helpful and very encouraging to us. They’ve been very free with their time and very willing to talk about the things that we wanted to know about, whether that’s how they’re organized, the budget, books and so on.”
Members Make It Possible
Members can be proud that their dues and donations have been working hard here in Maine but also, in a small way, at many other one-of-a-kind recreational areas across the country. MITA has consulted with dozens of water trails over the years, and in 2001 we even cohosted a conference geared specifically to water trail managers who wanted to exchange ideas and learn from one another. Dave Mention says this effort has been well worth the small amount of time and funding that MITA has invested in it. He notes that MITA, in addition to offering guidance to other trails, often receives advice and critical resources from the larger water trail community. He cites the example of Reed Waite, Executive Director of the Washington Water Trails Association (WWTA) in Seattle, who recently came to Maine to assist with an LNT master’s course. He adds that an upcoming WWTAsponsored water trails conference will provide an excellent opportunity for MITA to learn and share best practices for water trail management. “It’s extremely helpful to have other water trails out there working on a range of problems from different perspectives,” Mention says. “Having a broader community of water trails gives us additional resources to do a better job here along the Maine coast.”
Paddlers on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail—one of dozens of water trails MITA has consulted with since its inception. Credit: Hank Brooks
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Four Lifesaving Tips for Paddling in Maine Waters B y Dav e M e n t i o n , Tr a i l D i r e c to r
My 26-year-old nephew comes to Maine every summer and really likes taking a sea kayak out on the waters near South Thomaston. Last summer when we had a chance to paddle together I asked him what his plan was if he were to capsize when out alone. “No problem,” he confidently replied. “I’ll just climb back in.” When we put his plan to the test, however, he was still thrashing around in the water after five minutes of trying to get back in the boat unassisted. With a little bit of coaching he was soon sitting in the cockpit again and paddling along confidently. Here are some basic safety guidelines that will help you do the same when kayaking the Maine Island Trail. Tip #1: Always wear a life jacket
(also called a personal flotation device, or PFD). Al Johnson, from the First U.S. Coast Guard district, reports that 81% of fatalities in the Northeast have come from capsizing, and 88% of those people were not wearing life jackets. Make sure it is fastened and that the straps are snugged up tight so that it doesn’t float up and off of you. A properly fitting life jacket is the single most effective thing you can do to avoid a fatality from capsizing.
Tip # 2: Dress for the water temperature.
As I am writing this the water temperature in Casco Bay is 37 degrees Fahrenheit. At the peak of summer the temperature climbs to a balmy 65 degrees. Medical experts tell us that when immersed in water that cold the human body—yours and mine—often experiences an involuntary gasp reflex. If you gasp under water, you
swallow seawater and drowning occurs shortly afterwards. If you survive the gasp, you quickly begin losing body temperature and face the threat of hypothermia. Immersion in water below 70 degrees profoundly affects the body’s metabolism and leads to hypothermia and death. How do you plan for this? Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Many paddlers wear a shorty wet suit or a “farmer john” wet suit during the summer months. During spring months, when the water is coldest, a dry suit with an insulation layer underneath is the best choice. Bring spare clothes with you that you can change into after you get to shore, including a hat and long underwear.
Tip # 3: Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. File a float plan. Tell a trusted person where you are going and when you
Rolling can be an extremely valuable skill to learn.
will return, how many of you there are, and what kind of boat(s) you have. Impress on this person the importance of calling the U.S. Coast Guard if you are not back on time. When you return, be sure to call your safety person and let him or her know you are back. Several recent deaths occurred after rescue efforts were significantly delayed by not alerting the Coast Guard in a timely fashion.
Tip # 4: Practice your rescue skills.
Take a rescue class, learn to roll, increase your bracing skills, learn several different ways to get back into your boat, and then practice them. The skills used in rolling will make you a better paddler. Most of us can benefit from taking a refresher course from a sea kayak guide. To locate one near you, visit www.maineseakayakguides.com. Following these tips can help you enjoy years of kayaking on the Maine coast. After five minutes in the cold water, my nephew had a new appreciation for the risks of paddling in this environment. He now plans to spend time each year practicing rescue techniques. Skills taught in rescue classes can make a life or death difference on the water.
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Getchell - continued from page 1
“His knowledge of Maine knows no bounds, nor does his commitment to different landscapes, ranging from offshore islands, to the state’s highest peaks, and deepest woodlands.” Noting that Dave was the unanimous choice of the award selection committee, MacDonald praised him for employing “the most fundamental tools of voluntary land conservation – a handshake, trust, and belief in building common ground, and the power of getting people out on the land in order to build a conservation ethic.” Dave’s accomplishments in land trust work are indeed extraordinary in their breadth, volume, and quality. In addition to founding MITA, Dave was also a co-founder of the North American Water Trails Association, founder of the Georges River Land Trust Conservation Trails Program, inspiration behind the Georges Highland Path (an ambitious project involving nearly 40 different private landowners along a 36-mile footpath), and Honorary Director of the Friends of Baxter State Park. In accepting the award, Getchell highlighted the importance that trust and education have had, and will continue to have, in the conservation of Maine’s landscapes. “It’s very idealistic in these rather cynical times that we
MITA founder Dave Getchell, Sr (right) and Jay Espy, outgoing MCHT President.
live in, but the fact that the handshake agreement has worked, and will continue to work, shows how we can build beyond what land trusts are doing now and involving the public itself in land conservation,” he said. The award carries special significance this year, said MCHT Board Chairman Tom Ireland, because it was renamed in honor of outgoing MCHT President Jay Espy, who led the organization for the past 22 years. In Jay’s honor, the MCHT Board endowed a fund that will provide $5000 annually to the Espy Land Heritage Award winner to donate to a conservation charity. Dave opted to split the $5000 award among MITA, the Georges River Land Trust, and Friends
of Baxter State Park. Smiling, Dave noted that he was thrilled to be in the position of giving money away for a change, and described that he chose to give $2000 to MITA in honor of its 20th year. MITA is grateful for Dave’s donation and congratulates him on the well-deserved honor. “This award came as such a wonderful surprise—and particularly in association with the honoring of Jay Espy by MCHT,” said Executive Director Doug Welch. “It is particularly gratifying to see Dave’s vision of sustainable recreation on the Maine Island Trail receiving such esteemed recognition along with his more traditional land trust work.”
Island Trail Q &A
Q: What’s the biggest single piece of trash MITA has ever picked up from an island? A: According to Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle, it would likely be the full-sized refrigerator that washed up on Jewell Island in 2006 and which Nick Battista (pictured), volunteer Eric Martin and Casco Bay Caretaker Vinny Marotta carted off in a MITA workboat. Brian reminds members that it is your support that provides the people and equipment to remove the tons of trash that collects on island shorelines every year. Got another question for The Island Trail? Send it to email@example.com and we’ll try to answer it in an upcoming issue. 6
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A Trail - continued from page 1
Thousands of boaters who might have gone to the Maine islands almost willy-nilly instead have been intrigued by the concept of an actual “trail” over the water. Joining MITA, they have discovered the excitement of cruising ocean waters in small boats and have shared a corresponding interest in caring for the islands.
Donate your boat to a good cause.
“A well-designed trail follows neither the shortest distance between two points nor the path of least resistance, but rather seeks a way that fulfills one’s search for scenic variety, that maintains a sense of exploration, and that tests one’s personal skills.” All else aside, the success and longevity of the Maine Island Trail is due to the trail itself. Most successful trails, whether on land or water, are based on a simple idea, which I described in an article entitled “Island Trail,” in the 1987 issue of the Island Journal. “A well-designed trail follows neither the shortest distance between two points nor the path of least resistance, but rather seeks a way that fulfills one’s search for scenic variety, that maintains a sense of exploration, and that tests one’s personal skills.” Anyone who has cruised there will agree that the Maine Island Trail meets all three of these criteria. Today, hundreds of water trails in one form or another exist in North America. Some are new creations, others are based on centuries-old waterways, but now all are mapped with a beginning and an end with stewardship figuring prominently in their reason for being. Because of this acceptance of personal responsibility, the hand of authority rests lightly or not at all, and cruisers know a sense of freedom and discovery. As long as this holds true, the Maine Island Trail and its guiding Association will thrive.
It’s to your (tax) advantage. The Maine Island Trail Association gratefully accepts boat donations to help support our island stewardship programs. Donating a boat to MITA eliminates the considerable expense and effort that goes into marketing and selling a craft. We have no restriction on age or type of construction; our only criteria are that the boat is operable and in seaworthy condition. Furthermore, a boat donation to the Maine Island Trail Association may provide the owner tax savings close to the true market value of the craft. credit Dave Dunigan/T2 Productions For more information on the program contact the MITA office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-761-8225.
Success - continued from page 3
Such partnerships have formed the bedrock foundation of MITA’s sustained growth over the years. But at the time MITA was getting off the ground, the concept was way ahead of the curve. “You never quite knew how intruding on someone’s property was going to sit with them,” Gerber explains. “It was a leap of faith,” he adds, “and a very gratifying one at that.”
As they train their visionary eyes on the horizon, the Trail’s founders see many of the same kinds of opportunities that MITA was able to exploit 20 years ago. Goettel views the influx of baby boomer retirees as an important new base of users and volunteer support for the organization. Gerber, meanwhile, sees possibilities in the growth of other paddling trails to our south. “Maybe it’s time to talk about a coastal small craft trail all the way down the east coast of the USA,” he says. Fink believes that no matter where the challenges of the future may take us, MITA is well-positioned to deal with them. “The Trail is probably better managed today than ever,” he says. “The Trail has not only survived, but think of the number of similar trails it has spawned. It’s been an inspiration for other water trails all across the country.” M I TA .O R G
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Two Decades of Progress on the
Maine Island Trail As the Maine Island Trail has grown, MITA has kept pace with increased stewardship and management efforts. Trail goes international â€“ 10 Canadian islands added
B irt h o f t h e T rai l with 30 total sites: 26 public islands, 4 private islands, Portland to Jonesport Trail extended 25 miles east to Machias
# of private islands on Trail exceeds # of public islands for first time The late Ed Myers, private island owner.
The BPLâ€™s Steve Spencer.
Adopt an Island program established to enhance stewardship of Trail islands Formation of Maine Island Trail Association to manage the Trail
1 0 y e ar an n iversary:
92 total sites, 48 total public, 44 total private sites (90 islands, 2 mainland sites)
MITA issues the first Margaret C. Emerson Award to honor an outstanding volunteer
Maine Island Trail Association separates from Island Institute to become independent organization Monitor Skipper Program established to monitor island health and recreational use on the Trail
Volunteers Bob & Marietta Ramsdell.
MITA Founder Dave Getchell, Sr.
MITA Monitor Skippers.
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1 6 8 t ota l s i t e s , 66 public, 102 private (136 islands, 32 mainland sites)
1st site owned by a municipality added to Trail (Fort Gorges, city of Portland)
Several mainland campgrounds & parks added to Trail to relieve pressure on islands
MITA & the State launch educational pilot program by posting island signs espousing LNT principles
# of nonprofit-owned islands on Trail exceeds # of individual/family owned islands for first time
Trail extended west from Portland to Cape Porpoise Harbor
MITA launches marine debris data collection initiative to catalogue shoreline trash
1st Casco Bay Island Caretaker takes up residence on Jewell Island
Casco Bay Caretaker Vinny Marotta.
MITA & BPL establish voluntary camping capacity guidelines for stateowned islands and test the effectiveness of tent platforms on heavily used islands
MITA partners with North American Water Trails to host â€œWater Trails for the New Millenniumâ€? conference
Cataloging shoreline trash on Burnt Island.
MITA and BPL sign 10-year management plan for public islands. Island monitoring task force formed
M I T A c e l e brat e s 2 0 - y e ar a n n i v e r s ar y.
Volunteer Sid Quarrier. Pat McGowan approves the 10-year management plan.
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P R A C T I C A L LN T
Avoiding Launch Ramp Conflicts B y J e f f St r o u t
This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss practical ways to limit your impact while out on the Trail. Our premier installment focuses on Leave No Trace principle # 7— “Be Considerate of Other Visitors”—and addresses appropriate launch and navigational etiquette for paddlers. Needless to say, courtesy is a two-way street and should also be extended by motorboaters and sailors to the paddling community. Keeping an eye out for kayaks, and giving them a wide berth when they are identified, should be just as high a priority for powerboaters as staying out of the way is for paddlers.
Franklin Receives Service Award
MITA is proud to announce that Director of Marketing Tom Franklin has received the Exemplary Service Award from Maine Governor John Baldacci. The recognition honors Tom’s commitment not only to MITA, where he has been a full-time volunteer since 2004, but also his active participation with the United Way as a loaned executive and volunteer; his contributions to the Maine Citizens Against Handgun
“Tom’s widespread and sustained philanthropy is nothing short of inspirational.” Violence where he is President of the Board of Directors; as well as his involvement in Big Brothers Big Sisters, for whom he serves as a Big Brother to a 12-year-old immigrant from Sudan. “Tom’s widespread and sustained philanthropy is nothing short of inspirational,” said MITA Executive Director Doug Welch, “and I know I speak for the entire MITA community when I extend our heartfelt congratulations and thanks to him for his service.”
M I TA .O R G
Another paddling season is fast approaching and with it some more potential conflicts between paddlers, motor-powered boats, and those charged with enforcing local ordinances and regulations. For the uninitiated, sea kayaking isn’t without its detractors. Hard to believe, isn’t it? How could such a serene sport be anything but a crowd pleaser?
launch ramps and docks, we’re always getting in trouble and in need of rescue. It amazed me, in my innocence, how such a horrible picture could be painted. (More amazing to me was that I pay pretty close attention to paddling issues and the transgressions were not even on the radar in our neck of the woods at the time.)
Paddlers Called “Dock Hogs”
And on land there’s another reason paddlers are giving the sport a black eye. It’s happening with increasing frequency. It’s the launch ramp conflict. Two springs ago I attended a safety symposium at the U.S. Coast Guard station in South Portland where, among others, there was a contingent of harbormasters, mostly from the southern coastal region. I’d heard of occasional conflicts between kayakers and commercial fishermen, but the disdain for the paddling crowd was driven home at this gathering by the harbormasters.
Here’s what I hear is one of the major problems sticking in the craw of the boating and harbormaster crowd: hogging precious dock and launch ramp space. As a paddler you may be under the impression that public boat ramps are just that—public, free for the world to use. Well, that’s only partly true. As a paddler you have your choice of hand-carry launch sites (you may find one here and there in your DeLorme designated by red outlines of boats). The others (designated in DeLorme by all-red boats) are ramps for trailerable boats, most often motorboats. Funds for these ramps are usually paid for in part or in full by gas tax funds. The state has a special formula for figuring how much gasoline is sold for marine use and a percentage of the taxes paid on that fuel is designated for boat ramps, according to George Powell, director of boating facilities at the Bureau of Parks and Lands in Augusta. That amounts to about $1.7 million annually, he said.
They didn’t have anything good to say about us—we’re not visible on the water, we’re not supposed to be in the channel, we’re clogging the
So, paddlers, we’re not part of the funding mix—strike one (disregard the conservation license plate fund, that apparently doesn’t count...).
Well, to a typical lobsterman, those of us who paddle are called speed bumps. To power boaters—ditto. Along most of the coast, if you don’t burn gasoline or diesel, or have a 40-foot stick and sail above your head, you’re basically flotsam. If you think that’s fantasy, you’d best not test your theory on the water.
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Even though we may not be welcome because we don’t burn 330 gallons of gas a year, we’re tolerated as long as we stay out of the way. Here comes strike two. There are some (millions if you ask harbormasters) who spend too much time on the launch ramp or dock getting their kayaks outfitted for launch and stripped down for retrieval. If you’re one of these people, you’re not making any points and ruining it for others. Strike three comes when inexperienced paddlers finally get on the water and presume they own it. In a busy harbor the last thing large boat operators may see is your tiny profile on the water. And if you’re close in front of them, the operator may not see you at all. (And should he happen to drive over you, depending on the size of the boat, he may not even feel you.)
Tips & Techniques
What’s a paddler to do? First off, get some paddling experience under your belt before you head for cold ocean waters. You should consider taking a lesson or two from a qualified instructor. There are plenty of lakes and ponds on which to practice your skills. Once you get the fundamentals down, practice your paddling skills and familiarize yourself with the dangers that face you on the water and you’re ready to give the ocean a try, then take the time to learn something about boat launch ramp etiquette. Don’t take over the parking lot and ramp by spreading your gear all over the place. The best and quickest way to launch is to put your kayak on the ground next to your car and outfit it right there. It’s quick and easy because your gear comes out of the car and goes onto or into the boat. Once you are dressed and your boat is outfitted, you can carry the kayak to the water’s edge, get in and paddle away. If carrying your boat is difficult, look into getting some wheels you can use to roll your boat to the water’s edge and then stow in the hatches. If you paddle with a group, try not to take over the parking lot and ramp. You can outfit your
Set up out of the way so that other boaters can use the ramp while you get ready. Credit: Alan Spencer
party by your cars and help each other carry boats to the water. Once on the water, it’s safe practice to stay away from powerboats or sailboats that are under way. Assume you are invisible. You draw only inches of water, so you can go places other boats cannot, and besides, those other places provide the best opportunities for sightseeing and observing marine life. When you must cross a busy channel, do so as directly as possible and don’t linger in the middle any more than you’d dawdle in the middle of Main Street. If you’re with a group of other paddlers crossing a channel, keep your
group tight. Don’t string out like the tail on a kite. A group is easier for other boaters to see and you’re not tying up the channel. The bottom line? It all comes down to using common sense. Think about what you’re doing and what impact it might have on others. Jeff Strout is a regular columnist for the
Bangor Daily News. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted with permission.
M I TA .O R G
6/18/08 3:01:28 PM
Accentuating the Positive
Summer Events Schedule Please visit www.mita.org for more details and to register. Boatshows and Festivals
>August 3. Boothbay Boatbuilders Festival, Boothbay ME . >August 8-10. Maine Boats Homes & Harbors Show, Rockland ME.
Member Trips & Volunteer Events > July 6. Kayak Muscongus Bay, Bremen ME. Join MITA and Maine Audubon for a naturalistled paddle. $95 MITA/Audubon members, $110/nonmembers. > July 19. Kayak Muscongus Bay, Bremen ME. Join MITA and Maine Audubon for a naturalistled paddle. $95 MITA/Audubon members, $110/nonmembers. > August 9. Passamaquoddy Bay Cleanup, Canada. Join MITA and the Nature Trust of New Brunswick in this collaborative island cleanup event. Contact email@example.com. > August 22. Annual Stewardship Party, 6 p.m. onward, Ducktrap Retreat in Lincolnville, ME. Join us for a celebration of the island stewards who make the Trail possible. > August 23. Kayak Muscongus Bay, Bremen ME. Join MITA and Maine Audubon for a naturalistled paddle. $95 MITA/Audubon members, $110/nonmembers. 12
Visitors to MITA sites seem to be in an especially ebullient mood when they decide to put pen to paper in the island logbooks. An analysis conducted by summer intern Hannah Perry found that “beautiful,” “great” and “thanks” were the top three most frequently used words in visitor logbook entries in 2006. The top 10 list included other positives such as “good,” “lovely,” “perfect” and “clean.” As Stewardship Manager Brian Marcaurelle explains, MITA turns to the logbooks to help understand how visitors feel about their time spent on the islands. “The logbooks provide a window into the user experience,” he remarks. “By looking at visitor comments we can get a sense of people’s expectations of the islands and whether we are supplying the kind of experience that folks are seeking.” The comments, it turns out, are almost universally positive. Whether in paragraphs, short stories, poems or haiku, visitors will share thoughts and musings about their adventures, their appreciation for Maine’s scenic beauty, the condition of the islands, the weather, and anything else that happens to inspire them at the moment. Words such as “fun,” “happy,”
“amazing,” “peaceful,” “special” and “favorite,” which indicate a positive experience, are found in great number throughout the logbook pages. “Negative” words seldom appear, and when they do they tend to reflect what coastal Mainers have long accepted as mere facts of life: mosquitoes, fog, and rain. But as one island visitor aptly put it, “I’d take a foggy day on a Maine island over a sunny day at the office anytime.” While simple word counts might not pass muster with the scientific community, the logbook comments suggest that the islands are providing the wilderness recreation experience that people are seeking when they venture out on the Maine Island Trail. Marcaurelle believes that the findings also are indicative of the beneficial impact MITA members and volunteers are having along the coast. “These islands were clean and beautiful long before the arrival of humans,” he notes, “and there are a lot of people working to make sure they remain that way.” Special thanks are due to Hannah for tediously combing through MITA’s repository of logbook data and to all members and volunteers who continue to support island stewardship. Beautiful job— great work—thank you!
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, www.mita.org, and click the button to sign up.
M I TA .O R G
6/18/08 3:01:29 PM
B O O K R EV I E W
Tides Demystified b y Way n e To b i a ss o n
BEYOND THE MOON: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide To Understanding The Tides, by James Greig McCully, World Scientific Publishing Co, 2006, 285 pages, $38. Have you ever wondered why the tides diminish the further up the Kennebec River you go, while on the Penobscot, fewer than 100 miles away, the upriver tides get progressively larger? James Greig McCully, a retired MD and avid fly fisherman who summers in Camden, is in an excellent position to enlighten you. His book, Beyond the Moon: A Conversational, Common Sense Guide to Understanding the Tides, uses examples from the Gulf of Maine to show how sustained forcing of tidal energy (i.e., amplification by resonance) in some special places can greatly increase the rise and fall of the deep ocean. I was surprised to learn that when the gravitational pulls of the moon and sun are aligned and each is at its maximum, the most the deep ocean will rise and fall is a mere 18 inches. Lunar gravitation is the most important force generating tides; the sun has only about half the influence of the moon. The wide range of tides worldwide, from less than a foot at most places in the Mediterranean to over 50 feet at the head of the Bay of Fundy, has little to do with the moon and sun. These large variations are created by differences in coastal geography, oceanography, and hydraulics over continental shelves. Coastal geography is responsible for the significant differences in tides on the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers. Tides diminish going up the Kennebec as they do for most coastal waterways. However, when the geometry of a river is just right, as it is for the Penobscot, a natural oscillation occurs that intensifies tidal effects upriver. Maine’s classic semi-diurnal tides (two highs and two lows every 24 hours and 52 minutes) are but one of a number of possible tide patterns. Some places experience diurnal tides (only one high and one low a day) while others experience semidiurnal tides at times and diurnal tides at other times. Dr. McCully reminds the reader that current weather is obviously not considered on tide charts, and winds, in particular, can change sea level by a foot or more, up or down. McCully creates an engaging history of mankind’s understanding of tides by referring to Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and NOAA among others. He uses music, religion, medicine and skating as helpful metaphors (most, but not all of which I can accept). Excellent line drawings, graphs and color photos and his clearly written text cover a complicated subject in a logical way that, for this reader, was a wonderful learning experience. His “common sense” text should provide an eye-opening education to anyone interested in the forces of nature and willing to stop every so often to digest and cogitate on what has just been read.
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. mita.org.
The Island Trail welcomes article submissions on boating tips and techniques, island trips, the coastal environment and wildlife, and other topics that are of interest to MITA members. For more information or to submit an article, contact Kevin Lomangino, firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-799-6530.
And, for those who like to beat the sea with a fly rod, Chapter 12 contains some great tips on saltwater fly fishing. Wayne Tobiasson is MITA volunteer who lives in Etna, New Hampshire and Brooklin, Maine. M I TA .O R G
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v o l u n t e e r pro f i l e
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 email@example.com if you would like to donate these or other items. Stewardship Supplies • Long-handle loppers • Tree pruning saws • Tent-safe lantern
Boats & Motors
• Boats (sailboats, powerboats, dinghies, kayaks, etc) of any size in seaworthy condition
• High-strength cordage
• 20-40 HP 4-stroke motor for caretaker boat
• Log hooks
Office Supplies & Technology
• Come along (ratchet lever hoist) • Waterproof boots (all sizes) • PFDs (all sizes)
• Throwable buoyant boat cushions • Working handheld VHF radios • Dry bags
• Handheld chart plotter
• Fishing/landing nets for workboats (to retrieve floating trash) • Tarps (all sizes)
•D esk printers with bulk envelope printing capacity
• Computer chairs/ergonomic equipment • Document shredder • Vacuum cleaner
• Boat storage space
• Volunteer office help
• Volunteers for outreach events
New & Improved www.mita.org!
Jillfrances Gray, a graphic designer from Newburyport, MA, says it’s hard for her to get up to Maine for clean-ups and other volunteer events that she’d like to participate in. So instead of bagging shoreline trash, she has found another, more creative, way to help protect the islands: She designs the MITA newsletter free of charge. “I am on the [Appalachian Mountain Club’s] Knubble Bay Camp committee, which is how I learned about the islands and got involved trying to protect them,” Gray explains. “But since I couldn’t always be there for the MITA clean-ups, I thought this was something I could do that would still make a positive impact for the organization.” Since 2006, Gray has donated dozens of hours and thousands of dollars’ worth of time helping MITA craft professional communications materials on an amateur budget. When she’s not donating her time to MITA, Gray runs her own graphic design firm, JFG (www.jfg.com), which specializes in strategic branding communications for a variety of corporate and nonprofit clients. And while she finds the work very fulfilling, she says she’s always looking for an excuse to load up the car for another down east adventure. “I just love the experience of packing my boat, paddling out to an island, and being able to camp out right there right on the water,” she says.
At the beginning of April, MITA launched a completely redesigned website at www.mita.org. This is a first step towards our goal of providing more services online and we will be unveiling new features in the future. We hope that if you haven’t seen the redesigned site already, you will take the time to look around and tell us what you think! 14
MITA would like to thank Jillfrances and the hundreds of other volunteers who contribute in so many ways. And we invite anyone interested in learning about volunteer opportunities to contact Brian Marcaurelle, stewards@ mita.org, for more information.
M I TA .O R G
6/18/08 3:01:31 PM
A Guide to the New Trail Guide B y B r i a n M a r c au r e l l e , St e wa rds h i p M a n a g e r
By now, most of you will have received your 2008 MITA Trail Guide and undoubtedly noticed some dramatic changes from recent editions. We’re excited about the new format and, based on initial feedback, members too are pleased with the new look. We wanted to share some of the thinking behind the overhaul and call your attention to specific items that are worth a look. Lay-Flat Spiral Binding
The first thing you notice when you pick up the new book is, of course, the cover. And what a cover it is! This beautiful photograph by member Daniel Smith really captures what we consider to be the essence of the Maine Island Trail experience. You’ll also notice the switch to a spiral binding, which allows the book to lay flat and makes it easier to reference while boating. The size of the book was reduced significantly by consolidating information and moving some material (particularly articles on natural history, geology and the like) to the MITA website. This resulted in a significant cost savings to the organization—both in terms of paper and mailing costs—and allows us to attribute more of your member dollars directly to island stewardship. Plus, it takes up less room in a dry bag!
The next thing you’re likely to notice is that the pages describing the Trail islands have been completely reformatted with, at long last, new island chartlets! Each page now includes not just a detailed chartlet of a specific island but also a regional locator map so that you can quickly see where the island sits in relation to other nearby Trail sites. Ed Geis of Headwaters Writing & Design worked tirelessly through the winter months creating the new chartlets, which are clearer and more useful than previous versions. New information was also added to the text descriptions, and specific information regarding camping capacity and other considerations has been called out and placed in an easyto-find space next to the chartlet. In addition, helpful symbols designating
camping versus day use, whether fires are allowed, if privies are available and the presence of good anchoring grounds have been added to accompany the text. We’d like to tell you that the new edition is absolutely free of typos, but you’re bound to find a few (we’ve already found some ourselves!). For the 2009 book we’ll work on correcting the small mistakes, tweaking some of the chartlets a bit and—oh yeah—adding a few pages for some new Trail islands. How many new islands? You’ll have to just wait and see…
MITA Trustee & Toyota Move Us Forward
MITA would like to acknowledge Toyota of Portland for helping to secure and outfit our new RAV-4 towing vehicle. Not only did they strike a generous deal on the vehicle itself—purchase of which was made possible by a very generous Board member donation—but they also threw in several hundred dollars’ worth of free labor for the installation of the tow package. Thank you Toyota!
M I TA .O R G
6/18/08 3:01:32 PM
6/18/08 3:01:33 PM
TALES OF THE TRAIL CONTEST 2008 Do you have a Tale from your Maine Island Trail trip? If so, check out MITA’s new website—www.mita.org — and enter our “Tales of the Trail” contest.
Open to all members and nonmembers. Contest dates: June 1-August 15 You must use our online form at www.mita.org/tales to enter, and include your full name, address, email address and phone number.
1st Place – Publication in MITA Newsletter, LL Bean Gift Certificate, EMS Gift Certificate, 2 Family Memberships to MITA for 2009, MITA Vest and more!
Credit Dave Mention
2nd Place – Publication in MITA Newsletter, EMS Gift certificate, 1 Individual Membership to MITA for 2009 and more! All entries become the property of MITA. See our website for more information.
Winners will be announced at the annual Stewardship Party and 20th Anniversary Celebration – August 22 at the Ducktrap Retreat in Lincolnville ME.
MITA.ORG 207.761.8225 PORTLAND, Maine 04101 58 Fore Street, Suite 30-3 MAINE ISLAND TRAIL ASSOCIATION
NON-PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
Published on Jun 4, 2008