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 s u mm e r 2 0 1 2
Beneath the Surface with Ocean Approved By Emma Pope-Welc h
When I met up with Paul Dobbins on a brisk April morning, I was on a mission to learn more about his business, Ocean Approved, which operates in the waters surrounding several Trail islands. Ocean Approved sustainably cultivates and farms kelp for human consumption. I had to know more. As we sped across Casco Bay to check on one of the farms, I couldn’t help but be invigorated by his business model, which emphasizes stewardship of the oceans’ health. This, he proudly told me, is how he and his business partner, Tollef Olson, came up with the name for their company. “We’ve both seen the demise of the fishing industry over our lives, and we only want to do things the ocean would approve of and to leave a little better legacy,” Paul says. The farms are built by first creating seed in the labs at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute and cultivating kelp spores in a nursery. The next step is to submerge tiny kelp plants (2 millimeters long), which are attached to thin string and wound around larger rope, into the bay off Little Chebeague and Bangs Islands. continue on page 19
In This Issue “Swango”: A History.............................. 3 Stand-up Paddleboarding.................. 5 High Season, No Crowds......................6 Visiting Cross Island.. ........................ 14 A Kayaker’s Dilemma.. ......................... 18
The view of western Cobscook Bay on a tranquil summer day. Photo: Daniel Carr.
Exploring the Eastern Frontier Cobscook Bay Sites Officially on the Trail B y K e v i n Lo m a n g i n o
For hundreds of years, those with an itch for adventure have been told to head west to the untamed frontier. When it comes to small boating, though, it’s hard to match the wilderness experience you’ll find in Cobscook Bay along the Canadian border. That’s why members with a thirst for new thrills (as well as considerable small boating experience) may want to “go east!” this summer and explore. Famed for its huge tide swings, vast undeveloped shorelines, and abundant wildlife, Cobscook beckons visitors with an embarrassment of natural riches just east of the Trail’s official terminus in Machias. (See the map on page 16.) Starting this summer, this “eastern frontier” becomes an official part of the Trail system with the addition of two new sites on the Bay—Cobscook Bay State Park and nearby Bar Island. A handful of other potential sites are also being explored. Featuring dozens of waterfront tentsites on Whiting Bay (which together with Dennys Bay make up the innermost section of Cobscook Bay), the State Park makes an ideal base camp for exploring the bay and surrounding areas, according to MITA Program Director Brian Marcaurelle. The Park offers clean restrooms with showers, potable water, firewood, and comfortable tenting areas equipped with lean-to shelters and fire pits. continue on page 16
m i ta .o r g
Islands of Granite and Sand B y D o u g W e l c h , E x e c u t i v e D i r e c to r
M I TA B OA R D O F T R U ST E E S Peter Adams, Yarmouth, ME Kelly Boden, Portland, ME Scott Camlin, Belmont, MA Dan Carr, Dayton, ME Nicole Connelly, Falmouth, ME Kathy Eickenberg, Liberty, ME Mark Fasold, Yarmouth, ME Lindsay Hancock, Gray, ME Kathryn Henry, Waitsfield, VT Rodger Herrigel, Phippsburg, ME Liz Incze, Cumberland Foreside, ME Tony Jessen, Freeport, ME Melissa Paly, Kittery, ME Joan Smith, Portland, ME Rod Vogel, Cumberland, ME Bill Weir, Bar Harbor, ME Jeremy Wintersteen, Boston, MA
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Doug Welch • firstname.lastname@example.org Executive Director
Nan Cumming • email@example.com Campaign Director Greg Field • firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Finance & Operations
Maria Jenness • email@example.com Stewardship Manager
Peter Kenlan • firstname.lastname@example.org Development Officer & Stewardship Manager Kevin Lomangino • email@example.com Newsletter Editor Brian Marcaurelle • firstname.lastname@example.org Program Director
Emma Pope-Welch • email@example.com Membership Manager Rikka Wommack • firstname.lastname@example.org Membership Services Associate Pro-bono newsletter design services by Jillfrances Gray : www.jfg.com JFG Graphic Design|Creative Direction
The Maine Island Trail is a 375-mile long waterway extending from the New Hampshire border on the west to Cobscook 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 I N E I S L A N D T R A I L A S S O C I AT I O N 58 Fore Street, 30-3 Portland, ME 04101 (207) 761-8225 • email@example.com
Vol. 23 2
M I TA .O R G
In 1985, my mom and step-father took my younger brother out of seventh grade and sailed their 30-foot Baba from our home on Lake Erie west of Buffalo to the Bahamas and back. At age 19, I was not smart enough to realize that it would have been worth taking a year off college to join them (nor, I suppose, was I necessarily invited!). But I did manage several visits, including a month in the Bahamas over my winter break from school. Being Columbus’ first landfall in 1492, the Bahamian Islands were far from pristine in the 1980s, yet spectacular nonetheless.
I grabbed some Ziploc bags and borrowed a knife from a little Bahamian kid who was hanging around. Both he and I walked home that day with enough meat for a sashimi feast. Another day we anchored and windsurfed in a spectacular cove that was eventually discovered, dredged, and later abandoned by a cruise ship company. We explored ruins that the jungle was reclaiming of a palatial estate in the Eleutheras that had been built in the 1920s by rum-runners.
When bad weather hit, we waited it out in a spectacular hurricane hole called Little Harbour. On the far beach, a reclusive Canadian sculptor had retreated with his family from the world he feared in I will never forget the wreckage of 1952 and gradually established a home Cessnas in the brush along the airstrip and workshop. Here he forged large brass as we arrived in Marsh Harbour in a sculptures depicting humankind’s need four-seater. Luckily, we hit to “survive or perish.” the tarmac. But although I Among the modern arrived safely, my luggage evils he decried was the Humanity needs did not. It would be a week pristine places, whether growing use of plastic. before I had any of my One didn’t need to granite or sand, where own clothes. walk far to understand the land meets the Having no clean clothes his perspective on this sea, life abounds, and meant frequent laundry. particular point. What The approved method was otherwise a tropical beauty surrounds us. was to fill our inflatable paradise far from dinghy with laundry and civilization was littered seawater, hang onto the transom, and as far as you could see with plastic debris stomp around on the clothes until the —including many bleach bottles. Anyone water ran more or less clear. A sparing who has gone on a MITA cleanup would rinse would follow with fresh water recognize the scene. This was before the either purchased dearly at the dock or advent of plastic drink bottles, so I can collected from the occasional downpour. only imagine what the tides deposit (Wearing salt-encrusted boxers is there today. generally not recommended.) The waters around the islands were The dinghy washer was surprisingly nothing if not bounteous, but they good at getting the sand and dirt out were being made to deliver every day. of our clothes, but not all of the islands’ The heaps of giant pink conch shells stains could be scrubbed away so easily. behind every Ma & Pa lunch shack were Once I was at the dock when a sport discomforting. The green turtle struggling fishing boat pulled up with a beautiful in vain to escape a burlap bag that was tuna in the hold. I was appalled when taking it to a soup pot was sorrowful. But the fishermen took just two small filets most disturbing was a local man with and left the rest of the magnificent fish two-gallon bleach bottles chasing rock for the birds. lobsters from the coral.
He would snorkel to the nearest reef and squirt the bleach into a crevice. Lobsters and anything else mobile shot out in a panic, making for easy capture, while entire colonies of coral were killed by the bleach. Thirty years later, thinking about the islands of the Bahamas or Maine, I am awed by everything they have given us in the 500 years of the new world and the millennia before. I wonder what they were like before we arrived, and what they will be like in the future. I hope my daughter will have an opportunity to snorkel a vibrant coral reef. I lament the tide of plastic that will litter all of these islands for centuries to come. Compared to the Bahamas, I am relieved that Maine’s smaller islands are under less pressure for human development and more pressure for human stewardship because of people like you. This comforts me not for the islands’ sake, but for our own. Humanity needs pristine places, whether granite or sand, where the land meets the sea, life abounds, and beauty surrounds us.
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“Swango” in the Kennebec By Liz Fitzsimmons
Swan Island has neither the smell of salt air nor ocean views. Its shoreline is gentle rather than rocky and not likely to be buffeted by stormy seas. That is because the island, roughly four miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, lies in the Kennebec River, approximately 22 miles from its mouth near Popham Beach. Located between the towns of Richmond and Dresden, Swan Island is known today to boaters, hikers, picnickers, and campers as the as the Steve Powell Wildlife Management Area. However, centuries ago it was Abenaki territory, and in the 1800s it was the site of Perkins Township. Native Americans who frequented the Kennebec called the island “Swango,” which means “Island of Eagles,” and bald eagles nest there today. Adjacent Little Swan Island was the seat of the Kennebis (Kennebec ) tribe. Important archaeological studies on Swan Island have recently revealed evidence of a Native American fishing site and village. Europeans visited the island on their explorations of the Kennebec—Samuel de Champlain in 1605, members of the short-lived Popham Colony in 1607, and Captain John Smith in 1614. Christopher Lawson bought land from the Indian chief in 1667, built a house, and lived there. The Indians did not welcome Europeans, however, and hostilities kept most settlers from the region. In 1750, a family was living on Swan Island when their palisaded home was attacked by Native Americans, who took 13 family members captive and marched them to Canada. By the 1760s the French and Indian Wars had ended, and settlers began moving to the area. Benedict Arnold traveled up the Kennebec on his expedition to capture Quebec in 1775 and allegedly stayed at a home on Swan Island, as did Aaron Burr and General Henry Dearborn. Perkins Township was incorporated in 1847. Colonel Thomas Handasyd Perkins, an early summer resident of Swan Island, paid the legal expenses of incorporation, and a grateful community honored him by naming their town for him. The community once had more than 25 houses, a school and a store, 95 residents, and an economy based in farming, shipbuilding, brick making, lumbering, shad fishing, and ice harvesting. continue on page 4
• On the Web: Visit our website, www.mita.org.
• Email: Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter by visiting mita.org and clicking the button to sign up. • Facebook: Become a fan at facebook.com/maineislandtrail. • YouTube: Subscribe to the MITA Channel, youtube.com/ maineislandtrail.
• Twitter: Hear our latest tweets at twitter.com/meislandtrail. • Flickr: Share photos at flickr.com/ groups/maineislandtrail/
• Linkedin: Connect at linkedin.com/ companies/maine-island-trailassociation Swan Island, now a conservation area, was home to a vibrant community in the 19th century. Photo: Lisa Kane.
M I TA .O R G
continued from page 3
Perkins’ population shrank as shipping on the Kennebec declined, mechanical refrigeration replaced ice cutting, and wooden ships became outdated. The town was legally disincorporated in 1918. A bridge was built between Dresden and Richmond in 1936, ending ferry service to Swan Island. By the 1940s, buildings had collapsed and home sites and fields were disappearing. Perkins was becoming a ghost town. By the 1990s only a small handful of houses remained, including the 1773 Gardiner-Dumaresq House, the c. 1800 Tubbs-Reed House, and others dating from the 1850s to 1880s. They are among the 34 historic sites, including buildings, foundations, stone walls, and one landscape, added to the National Register of Historic Places as the Swan Island Historic District in 1995. Maine Historic Preservation placed Swan Island on its Most Endangered Historic Properties list in 2001. Structural assessments have been made and a master plan developed, and some work has been done to stem deterioration of the houses, but funding is scarce. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife acquired land and home sites on Swan Island between the 1940s and 1960s and established a wildlife management area. Situated at the north end of Merrymeeting Bay, the island’s mud flats, fields, ponds, and woods make an ideal habitat for ducks, geese, deer, wild turkeys, and migrating wildfowl. The island has many large trees, especially white oaks. Information about visiting the island, including procedures for campsite reservations and fees, is available at http://www.maine.gov/ifw/education/ swanisland/main_content.htm. The article on the back cover has updated information about day-use visitation policies.
Liz Fitzsimmons is a public historian and kayaker who lives in Belfast, ME. 4
M I TA .O R G
Audubon Camp Is That Rarest of Birds: A Phoenix B y K e v i n Lo m a n g i n o
Hog Island in Muscongus Bay – a 330acre, spruce-topped gem that has long been a Mecca for serious birders – has a special place in the hearts of many a MITA member. Some cherish the island for its association with the National Audubon Society and its pioneering role in bird conservation. Others may recall it as the site of sun-drenched, food- and funfilled MITA annual conferences during the mid-1990s. Whatever their reasons, everyone agrees that the island is an integral part of the Trail experience in midcoast Maine. Helping to keep it that way, despite considerable challenges, are the Friends of Hog Island (FOHI)—a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the Audubon-sponsored conservation activities on the property.
A Tradition in Jeopardy
As many members know, Hog has been the site of a unique Audubon educational camp since 1936—a place where hundreds have flocked each summer to learn about the environment and conservation in a pristine natural setting. Some 50,000 people have participated in these life-changing courses over the years, imparting their knowledge to countless others. And yet the camp’s future was in serious jeopardy even as it approached its 75-year anniversary in 2011. As Juanita Roushdy, President of FOHI explained, Hog’s programs had been losing money and participants since the year 2000. This led to shortfalls in the revenue needed to support maintenance of the island’s 100-yearold buildings. In the face of mounting financial difficulties, camp programs were abruptly canceled during the 2008 season and remained closed in 2009, indicating that a tipping point had been reached. By the time Roushdy began
to get involved in 2010, Audubon was within weeks of turning over the camp to Camp Kieve. Roushdy said that plan didn’t sit well with her or many other local Audubon supporters, because they felt that “the island and camp had been in Audubon’s hands for the last 75 years and should remain so.” She added, “The original owner had entrusted it to Audubon in perpetuity for conservation purposes. But nobody had stepped forward with the money needed to keep it in Audubon’s hands.” Roushdy and other advocates sprang into action, first to reconstitute an existing, but dormant, FOHI group as a 501c3 nonprofit with a board of directors. They then convinced Audubon to give FOHI a chance to provide the needed financial support for the camp. They submitted a business plan to Audubon and promised to raise a $2 million endowment as a buffer against future financial uncertainty, as well as provide an annual $50,000 to supplement the camp’s income.
Turning the Corner
Though challenges remain, FOHI is well on its way to delivering on its promises, Roushdy says. Audubon accepted their business plan; FOHI succeeded in delivering its first $50,000 check in June 2011; and a generous donor has recently pledged $500,000 in matching funds toward the endowment. She added that there’s also “a whole new energy” infusing the Hog Island summer education programs, which were restarted in 2010 under the leadership of Steve Kress, founder of Audubon’s Project Puffin. “People feel a whole new sense of ownership over the place, and campers leaving the program are thrilled that the camp is still an Audubon camp,” Roushdy said. continue on page 17
Stand-Up Paddleboarding B y R i kk a W o m m a c k
As if there weren’t already enough exciting ways to get out on the water and explore Trail destinations, another water sport has recently burst onto the scene. Stand-up paddleboarding, virtually unheard of five years ago, is now the fastest growing water sport in the world, and is gaining devoted followers up and down the Maine coast. For anyone who may still be unfamiliar with the burgeoning sport, picture standing on a surfboard and propelling yourself forward with a long, singlebladed paddle. The sport originated among the islands of Hawaii, where it enjoyed local popularity for decades before being commercialized and taking hold all over the country and the world.
“Soulful and Simple”
Enthusiasts like Thor Emory, owner and lead instructor of ThorFinn Expeditions, of Lincolnville, Maine, say paddleboards are great for a range of different conditions—everything from leisurely outings on a calm lake to surfing adrenaline-pumping waves. And while there are different styles of boards and equipment to match each environment and skill level, the sport is less equipment-intensive than many other water sports. Stand-up paddleboarding “is soulful and simple,” Thor says. “It offers great perspective into the water and of your surroundings, and it is a dynamic and challenging activity.” Thor credits this versatility for stand-up paddleboarding’s surging popularity. After sampling the sport two years ago, he quickly added stand-up paddleboards to his company’s offerings and began leading guided stand-up tours around the Maine coast.
Where to Go
The best places to test out stand-up paddleboarding are sheltered areas with gentle currents and winds and low boat traffic. Thor recommends that
New to the MITA team, Stewardship Manager Maria Jenness, pictured above, paddles in Boothbay Harbor with a board from Tidal Transit Kayak. Photo: Tidal Transit Kayak.
beginners start out on a lake before moving onto the ocean. It’s important to remember to watch for larger craft and to stay close to shore until you are completely comfortable with the sport. Wind and currents will affect stand-up paddleboarders even more than they do kayakers, so be aware of your limits and paddle with a group. Once you’re comfortable with the equipment and are ready for a bigger challenge, there are a number of sites along the Maine Island Trail that are great to explore by paddleboard. In the Casco Bay region, you can start at the Merepoint launch ramp, from which you can paddle around White (not a Trail island), and up to Crow and Little Birch. Farther east, try putting in at the Knickercane launch ramp in the Sheepscot River and paddling out to Ram and Little Ram Islands. And Naskeag Point in Eggemoggin Reach is a great location for the more adventurous paddleboarder. You can paddle around Harbor and Hog Islands (neither of which are Trail islands) and stop at Sellers and Little Hog for a rest and a picnic.
Take Advantage of Discounts
For those who are eager to give the sport a try, there are a number of businesses that offer stand-up paddleboarding discounts to MITA members. LL Bean in Freeport, Seapsray Kayaking in West Bath, Tidal Transit Kayak in Boothbay Harbor, Midcoast Kayak in Damariscotta, and Thorfinn Expeditions in Lincolnville all offer MITA discounts on lessons and rentals. Several offer free demos of the equipment so customers can get a feel for the sport before committing to a rental or lesson. To be sure, skeptics have derided standup as a flash in the pan, soon to go the way of rollerblading and windsurfing. But proponents counter that the sport’s simplicity and versatility will ensure its continued popularity. Whatever its ultimate fate, paddleboarding for the moment has made a splash in the MITA community: a stand-up paddleboard was recently auctioned off to a lucky patron at our May 3rd auction and paddling film festival. As long as stand-up paddling gets people out on the water and safely exploring the Maine coastline, MITA stands with it! M I TA .O R G
Don’t Let High Season Get You Down B y R e i n h a r d Z o ll i ts c h
For over 10 years I have heeded MITA’s warning that the Merchant Row area “is extremely popular with all kinds of boaters during the busy summer season,” and that it might therefore be difficult to find a camping spot on most of the islands. But last summer I was determined to find out how crowded this area really was during the height of the Maine summer season, in July and August. My circumnavigation started at a pebble ramp across from Pumpkin Island Light at the northwest entrance to Eggemoggin Reach. My first overnight was on Butter Island, because I wanted to look around the island group to the west of Deer Isle, but also to find out whether I could get a reservation by phone in advance. I had no problem. Nubble Beach at the southeast corner looked picture perfect. There was nobody around, no noise other than the wind in the treetops, the waves breaking on the long crescent pebble beach, and a distant foghorn–a perfect misty island solitude.
Penosbscot Crossing After a 12-mile excursion the next day around most of the islands in that part of Penobscot Bay, I paddled past Eagle and Sheephead to tiny Weir Island, at the entrance to the Deer Isle Thorofare. Again, I had the island all to myself. On my traverse of Merchant Row to Kimball Island at the Isle au Haut Thorofare, I again did not see any campers on Rock, Steves, Harbor, or on Kimball itself. With some old swells breaking on the many off-shore rocks and ledges around the southern tip of Isle au Haut, it got a bit dicey around the Western and Eastern Ear, two small islands almost attached to the southern corners of Isle au Haut. The rest of my rounding took me straight north to the tiny barren island of Doliver. According to the MITA logbook, I was the first camper there that year. 6
M I TA .O R G
The view from Reinhard’s tent during a circumnavigation of Isle au Haut and Deer Isle.
Next morning, I paddled through the maze of Merchant Row islands, past Burnt, Round, McGlathery, Coombs, and Spruce, and ended up north of Devil on Hell’s Half Acre. To my surprise, nobody was camping there either, and nobody came by to claim the other tent platform, and that on a Sunday, July 31! Since the weather was great, I decided to go for an afternoon jaunt around a few more islands: Camp, Russ, Scott, Green, Potato, Coombs, Ram, Spruce, and Devil. Thick fog greeted me the next morning, but my course was easy: straight north back to Deer Isle and around Stinson Neck to Campbell eventually. I ended my trip up Eggemoggin Reach in more thick fog the next day. Near the tall Deer Isle suspension bridge the wind sprang up and visibility improved. At that point Pumpkin Island Light came back into view, and with it my designated take-out ramp. Again, nobody but my dear Nancy was there.
What I Learned
And so ended my eight-day trip of about 80 leisurely miles. The most surprising revelation was that I did not encounter any crowding on the MITA islands or the spectacular water world
surrounding Deer Isle and Isle au Haut, Maine’s prime sea kayaking area. As a matter of fact, I had each overnight spot I stopped at all to myself. I also did not meet any other paddlers other than a few local boaters around Weir Island and a few day trippers briefly landing on Hell’s Half Acre. Either I was lucky finding solitude, or the ocean with its often harsh conditions was taking care of overcrowding. So don’t be scared off by warnings of overcrowding—just plan your stops carefully and stay flexible. Remember, Isle au Haut, the “High Island”, is a very formidable, hard, big rock of an island, sticking way out into Penobscot Bay. It is surrounded by lots of off-shore ledges and rocks where even old innocentlooking swells could suddenly break and get you into trouble. But for the same reasons, these islands are truly beautiful and present a real challenge for the intermediate to expert paddler.
For a full trip report, check out:
Respecting the Refuge B y k e v i n lo m a n g i n o
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, the book by naturalist Rachel Carson that exposed the dangers of uncontrolled pesticide use. As MITA now looks to expand Trail access along the southern Maine coast, near the national wildlife refuge that bears Carson’s name, it seems a fitting time to review the etiquette for boating in and around the refuge’s sensitive salt marshes.
damage without even realizing it, says Kelly. This is why boaters need to pay heed to some extra-stringent Leave No Trace practices when cruising the area.
Why RCNWR Is Important
Waterways inside the Refuge are open and available for access by the general public. However, it’s preferable to visit the area in nonmotorized craft to limit noise disturbance in the refuge, Kelly said. If motorized craft are used, a strict no-wake policy should be observed to limit erosion of the salt marshes’ soft banks.
Established in 1966, the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge comprises thousands of acres of federally protected land along 11 estuaries between Kittery and Cape Elizabeth. It includes a variety of coastal habitats, including beaches, dunes and salt marshes, as well as upland forest stands of oak, hickory, and pine. The Refuge is an important way station along the migration routes of waterfowl and other migratory birds. It also provides critical nesting habitat for dozens of bird species, including threatened or endangered species such as the least tern and piping plover.
The first rule is to have a good idea of where the Refuge boundaries lie before putting in for the day. “Boaters should avoid landing anywhere in the Refuge salt marshes or pulling their boats up because that would be considered trespassing,” Kelly cautioned.
Kelly added that dogs can be especially problematic because they chase birds and can trample fragile nesting sites. She said that dogs should always be leashed when visiting beaches or other areas that are adjacent to the Refuge boundaries.
Upholding a Tradition
MITA has always taken great pride in being a respectful neighbor and a good steward of the coastal environment. That’s why we’ve enjoyed such strong partnerships over the years with conservation-based landowners such as the Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Acadia National Park, the Chewonki Foundation, and the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a tradition we’re looking to build upon as we explore increasing Trail access options along Maine’s southern coast, says MITA Program Director Brian Marcaurelle. “The estuaries of the Refuge are obviously an exceptional attraction for boaters in the area, and I expect that MITA members will be taking advantage of those opportunities in the future,” Marcaurelle said. “As we’ve seen wherever MITA has had a presence on the coast, the result should be greater awareness of the environmental sensitivities of the area and, hopefully, an uptick in volunteer stewardship that supports the Refuge’s mission.”
In addition to serving as a key food source for a variety of marine life, including commercial shellfish, the Refuge also plays a number of other roles that are critical for the local ecosystem, says Lindsay Kelly, an Americorps volunteer who serves as an environmental educator at the Refuge. “The salt marshes protect shorelines by buffering the wave action from incoming swells,” she said. “They also help absorb the excess nutrients from stormwater runoff, which protects water quality.”
No Wake Zone
The waters surrounding refuge salt marshes are an exciting destination for recreational boaters and offer worldclass birding opportunities. But it’s easy for careless visitors to do a lot of
A saltmarsh sparrow photographed in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Brian C. Harris. M I TA .O R G
2011: The Financial Year in Review
MITA had many positive program developments in 2011. We grew the Trail in southern Maine and Cobscook Bay, plus several gaps in between. In an exciting partnership, we helped the Maine Coast Heritage Trust to save Battle Island near Castine from development. An award-winning economic impact study completed by two graduate students from Harvard University demonstrated that the Trail generates $2M per year in spending by visitors. We held our first-ever auction in conjunction with our annual Paddlers Film Festival with the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. We invested in all-new computers and a server for the office. And Outside magazine determined that we were the “Best Sea-Kayaking Trail” in America. We also faced some challenges, the response to which demonstrated MITA’s resilience in the face of adversity. As announced in March 2011, fraud by a former employee was discovered. In the weeks that followed, we conducted a complete financial procedures review and enacted many new safeguards. We filed a civil suit against the perpetrator and then settled it with partial repayment negotiated and an ongoing plan for restitution. We pressed criminal charges that ultimately led to conviction and incarceration for the perpetrator. In the face of this, MITA members rallied and we ended the year up in memberships versus 2010 and with a healthy cash flow. MITA’s gross revenues for the year were $520,671, a $57,763 decrease from 2010 due to declining grant revenues, investment income, and net assets released from restrictions. That said, membership and other unrestricted operating contributions were up by $29,871 or 9%. Total expenses were $522,284, $36,770 less than in 2010. Nearly 70% of all expenses were dedicated to trail access, membership, and stewardship programs. This reflected a 12% increase in spending on programs compared to 2010. Combined with a major reduction in fundraising and member development expenses, the net effect was a decrease of 7% in total expenses. The end result of these changes was that MITA’s net assets grew by $80,353 in 2011.
M I TA .O R G
Statement of Financial Position* ASSETS
Other Assets (incl Restricted Investments)
Capital Assets (Property & Equipment)
LIABILITIES & NET ASSETS
In 2011… • Nine new sites were added to the Trail (5 islands and 4 mainland sites).
• Volunteers removed 241 bags of shoreline trash from 49 islands, plus 120 derelict
Current Liabilities Net Assets
Total Liabilities & Net Assets CHANGE IN NET ASSETS
lobster traps from Big Baker Island in Penobscot Bay.
• Volunteer Monitor Skippers and Island
Adopters made a combined 254 stewardship visits to the islands.
• The Casco Bay Caretaker counted 2,589
visitors to Jewell Island between May and September.
Revenue & Expenses by Area SUPPORT & REVENUE Membership Dues & Unrestricted Contributions Sponsorships & Contracts Events & Other
• MITA led 20 partners in rehabilitation work
Net Assets released from restrictions Total Unrestricted Revenue & Other Support
on Little Chebeague in Casco Bay, with
nearly two miles of hiking trails restored or created, two acres of historic fields
reopened, and 10 acres of tree groves cleared of invasive bittersweet.
• Two new outboard motors were purchased for the MITA fleet.
• Over 7,400 members, supporters and followers received MITA’s monthly e-newsletters.
EXPENSES Program Services
Fund Development & Member Recruitment
Administration Total Expenses
*CPA reviewed financials are available upon request. Photos: From top to bottom: 1. Stonington clean-up crew, June 2011 2. A photographer captures video during Bill Green’s trip to Little Snow Island, summer 2011 3. Brian Marcaurelle at the tiller of a Stonington clean-up skiff (credit: Dan Carr) MITA workboats and 4. Rippleffect joins MITA on Little Chebeague for bittersweet eradication.
Thank you! M I TA .O R G
The Maine Island Trail Association is grateful to the individuals, businesses, and foundations who made gifts for annual operations in the fiscal year that ended on 9/30/11. Those among our 3,774 members as of that date whose gifts reached $100 or more are listed below. We have tried to be completely accurate in compiling this list and we apologize for any unintentional errors or omissions and ask that you help us correct any mistakes. If you notice one, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and help us get it right! The Maine Island Trail Association recognizes the extraordinary generosity of our Trailblazers, individuals whose annual operating gifts reached $1,000 or more for the fiscal year ending 9/30/2011. Joel Antolini & Meeghan McLain Donna & Greg Barmore Richard M Barton Linda Bean Roger Berle Willard W Brown Jr Sandy & Sissy Buck Scott Camlin & Beth Uptegrove Madeleine G Corson Mazie Livingston Cox Sara Crisp & Gregg Lipton J Martin Devine
Elizabeth Ehrenfeld John R Elwell Richard M Engel & Barbara Chilmonczyk Mark & Patricia Fasold Scotty Folger J Thomas Franklin Mr & Mrs Herbert H Gowen II Patty & Fred Green Harriette & Peter Griffin Cyrus Hagge Morris Hancock & Linda Peyton
$25,000+ The William Bingham Foundation
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A Visit to Cross Island B y To m C a b ot J r .
Shortly after receiving the MITA Trail Guide in the mail a couple of years ago, Tom Cabot Jr. wrote to tell us some of the fascinating history behind Cross Island near Machias, most of which was bought by his father in 1941. We are reprinting the letter, with Tom’s permission, both to share this interesting tale with members and to highlight the role of caring landowners in maintaining public access on the coast of Maine. (Butter Island in Penobscot Bay is also owned by the Cabot family and available for member use.) We are deeply indebted to the Cabots for their long legacy of commitment to the Maine Island Trail, MITA, and the stewardship of Maine’s wild islands. In 1941, just a few days before Pearl Harbor, my father Tom Cabot bought almost all of Cross Island. The price was very low because the only value of a Maine island in those days was stumpage for the lumber. Cross had just been lumbered – in the summer, the trees were cut and limbed, and in winter the logs were skidded down to the water’s edge. This island still looked fine from a ship because the periphery was not lumbered due to the steep shorelines and the branches growing nearer to the ground on the outer sides, which made the lumber less valuable and not worth the trouble to cut. As a family, we had cruised around Cross Island many times on the family yawl Avelinda. Years later, Dad decided to name the woodlands the “Avelinda Forest” and to post protective No Trespassing signs all around it. Not long after the purchase of Cross Island, Dad and I boarded the night train from Boston and slept as it chugged along the Maine coast. We brought with us two duffles of clothes with food and bedding, plus three large canvas bags containing the knocked-down twoseater German faltboat we had brought back from a summer of sport travels in Europe in 1936. 14
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Early Saturday morning, in the train For warmth and cooking, we moved yards beyond Machias, we scrambled into it an old black stove, which we off the train and dragged our bags to connected to the chimney with some beneath an old pier on the Machias old coffee cans. There was ample River. There we proceeded to reassemble driftwood to fire it up. the faltboat, complete with its Nazi On the eastern end of Cross Island was pennant in the bow. As we were about the original Coast Guard station which to launch it, two policemen showed up at that time was fully intact, with its iron with drawn guns. It took rails running through Dad a lot of explaining to large doors down to It took Dad a lot convince them that we the cove to launch the were not German spies of explaining to heavy man-propelled just disembarking from a convince them life boats into the surf. German U-boat. But about ten years that we were not earlier, the Coast Guard German spies just Taking Stock of had switched to enginethe Island disembarking powered lifeboats and It took us many long hours from a U-boat. had built a newer house to paddle against the wind and pier in the straits down the Machias River and around to the northeast. We found that across Machias Bay where the waves the new facility was occupied by armed created considerable surf from a recent Coast Guard chaps who were patrolling storm. We saw no humans – only seagulls. the outer edges of Cross, searching for Tired and hungry, we arrived in the German submarines. lee of the long northerly spit of Cross The westernmost tip of Cross was owned Island, where there was an old, longby someone else and had no structure on deserted and very lonely farm house. it. Dad later purchased this as well. Dad’s Since Dad was the new owner, he original purchase included not only a had no qualms about breaking in. number of small nearby islands, but also We cleaned up an otherwise empty a large tract of land on the mainland downstairs room that still had glass in across from the Coast Guard station. most of its windows.
Thomas D. Cabot on Cross Island’s outer shore in 1945. Reprinted from: Avelinda: The Legacy of a Yankee Yachtsman by Thomas D. Cabot. Island Institute, Rockland, ME 1991.
We spent the next three days walking all over Cross and the nearby mainland. We found the cave on the outer cliffs and were able to scramble down to it for a picnic lunch. As we were leaving it, we were spotted by the armed patrol at the top of the cliff. Once again, dad had a lot of explaining to do.
We also visited the two squatters who lived on the island—Will Dobbin in the cove just north of the Coast Guard station and his brother on a cove near the northwestern end of the island. They came from Jonesport but spent most of their lives lobstering from their piers and shacks on Cross Island. They were feuding brothers and had not spoken to each other for a generation. They were armed when in their lobster boats and had taken pot shots at each other when inadvertently coming too near each other at sea on a foggy day. In Jonesport some years earlier, the westend brother had a little boy with a bad mental defect. His father wanted to put him into an institution, but the east-end brother, Will, disagreed and kidnapped his little nephew, taking him to Cross Island to live for the rest of his life. When we visited with the east-end brother, we met, in addition to his nephew, a housekeeper who maintained on the stove 24 hours a day a large, hot washtub full of baked beans. The nephew was grown by then, and the only words I ever heard from him were, “I use a Gillette razor.”
Wardens for Life
To avoid squatter status, Dad made one brother the lifetime game warden and the other the lifetime fire warden, paying each one a dollar and then taking back the dollar for a lifetime lease on their respective facilities. Each understanding was spelled out on a single hand-written page, which each brother signed with an X because he had never learned how to write.
The author in 1933 (right) with brother Louis near Cape Split. Reprinted from: Avelinda: The Legacy of a Yankee Yachtsman, by Thomas D. Cabot. Island Institute, Rockland, ME, 1991.
We also spent time exploring the nearby mainland, trying to locate the inland boundary. The badly jumbled second growth plus recent storms made it difficult to walk a straight line and to keep track of our location. When our mission was accomplished, we packed up and paddled an easy downwind run back to the Machias train yards for the trip back to Boston where we arrived early Tuesday morning.
• Near the new Coast Guard area, he deeded over two possible future house sites to two of my brothers. These parcels are now being donated to Maine Coast Heritage Trust. ll the rest of his ownership of Cross • A Island, including the several smaller off-shore islands, he gave to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a National Wildlife Refuge.
A Refuge and Other Uses
Many years later, Dad carved up Cross Island: • H e gave a 99-year lease on the newer Coast Guard Station to Outward Bound. • The Navy took the mainland piece by eminent domain, installing a vast array of very-low-frequency radio towers which enables them to communicate with their ships and submarines around the world. As opposed to high frequencies, the low frequencies follow the curvature of the earth. M I TA .O R G
“Machias is still recognized as the terminus of the Trail, and paddlers shouldn’t feel the need to continue to Cobscook Bay if they want to say they paddled the whole Trail,” Marcaurelle said. He compared Cobscook Bay to the extension of the Appalachian Trail (AT) that runs north from Baxter State Park into Canada. “If you’re hiking the AT and you want to continue on into New Brunswick you can, but the vast majority of thru-hikers finish their trip at Katahdin,” he said. By adding sites in the protected regions of the bay that are accessible from nearby, safe launch locations, MITA hopes to give members an opportunity to experience Cobscook without having to negotiate its more hazardous areas.
Dig Your Dinner
continued from page 1
And there’s plenty of natural wonder to take in, Marcaurelle adds, whether it’s the scenic landscapes, the massive 24-foot tides, the occasional black bear, or the 200plus bird species that call the bay home or use it as a stopover during migrations.
Safety Is Top Priority
While exceptional for its natural bounty, the bay demands caution and respect from anyone who plans to boat there. “Near the State Park, in Whiting Bay and Dennys Bay, the pull of the tide is strong but otherwise the water is fairly placid since the bays are sheltered,” Marcaurelle says. “But venture too close to the narrows around Falls Island and you’ll encounter strong currents, lively boils, rips, eddies and standing waves that are often heard before they’re seen. 16
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MITA strongly recommends keeping well away from this area unless you are an expert small boater.” Similar concerns apply to the Lubec Narrows and other parts of the outer bay. “The combination of very strong currents, dense fog, and icy cold water can spell disaster for anyone who isn’t absolutely sure about what they’re doing,” according to Marcaurelle. The Bold Coast between Culter and Lubec is another stretch that is best avoided. Backed by high bluffs, the shoreline there offers few safe places to get off the water if conditions take a turn for the worse—which they often do in this forbidding region. Marcaurelle contends that this message is particularly relevant for kayakers planning to thru-paddle the entire Maine Island Trail.
Longtime member Dan Carr, who was recently nominated to the MITA Board of Trustees, spent considerable time exploring the area during a paddle in 2009. He confirmed that the region is thick with wildlife, including baitfish, seals, bald eagles, and even whales along the outer coastline – all of which are supported by the massive flushing of nutrients in and out of the bay during tide changes. He noted that the bay’s clear, cold waters also support a strong shellfish industry that visitors are welcome to participate in. Campers at the state park can legally dig up to a peck of clams per day from the adjacent mudflats without a license. (The park will even provide you with a clam rake and bucket!) Like Marcaurelle, however, Carr emphasized that boaters need to take extra precautions in this area to stay safe. He explained that all the paddling he did in the Cobscook region was with good visibility and light winds. He paid extra attention to the tides and paddled during slack water in places expected to have strong currents. “Even at Cobscook Bay State Park, there are substantial mudflats, and if you’re putting in at a place where there’s no launch ramp set up for the tide range, you could come back to a long slog through the mud,” he said.
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From four classes in 2010, the Hog Island program expanded in 2011 to include six courses that were filled to capacity. Courses for 2012 are already about 70% full as of this writing. For now, FOHI is still hard at work on the fundraising required to meet its objectives. But Roushdy said they’ve also started to look for ways to reconnect with partner organizations like MITA. “Now that we’re at least part way toward our goal, we’re looking to get back on the map and see what the future holds for us.” She reiterated that the island’s tent sites are accessible to MITA campers year-round except for a three- week stretch during each of July and August when Camp Kieve has priority. (See the MITA Guide for details.) She also invited members to stop by any time to check out Hog’s facilities and view the live “osprey cam” feed in Hog’s main building (called The Bridge).
lecture, Hog Island style. Photo: Juanita Roushdy
“We’re open to new ways that we can work together to spread the word about stewardship and awareness of the environment,” she said.
Visit FOHI.org for more information or
to get involved. To learn more about the Hog Island programs or to sign up, visit hogisland.audubon.org.
MITA will gladly consider donations of anything from boats and vehicles to office equipment. Please call us at 207-761-8225 or e-mail email@example.com if you would like to donate these or other items.
FOR THE office • Binoculars • Vacuum
FOR THE BOATS
• Solar battery charger
• Handheld chart plotter / GPS • Throwable buoyant cushions
FOR THE ISLANDS
• Leaf rake and flathead rake • Ratchet pruning shears • Pruning saw
• Spade shovel • Rock bar
M I TA .O R G
A Kayaker’s Dilemma By Levi Br i dges
While on a solo kayaking trip around Isle au Haut last summer, I got caught in a sudden and violent storm that churned the cold Atlantic into crashing whitecaps. After an hour of tough paddling, surfing on tall waves, and maneuvering around the rocky coast, I washed up on Wheat Island, a small expanse of tree-covered rock surrounded by turquoise waters that connects to a stunning beach of white shells at low tide. The stormy conditions did not subside for some time, so I spent the next 48 hours camped on Wheat Island waiting for calmer seas.
A Strange Whiff
After setting up my tent on the MITA campsite, I began my ritual habit of walking the island’s perimeter—a solitary tradition that I repeat while camping on all Maine islands. I had only made it a quarter of the way around the island’s granite coast before a strange whiff, similar to an abandoned PortaPotty, reached my nostrils. Each time I wandered around the island it was the same. Within a five yard radius that began not far from the tent site, a nauseating miasma filled the air. Finally, just before nightfall, I ambled out of my tent to look for the full moon and noticed about a dozen WAG bags, the plastic bags used to store human waste while camping, tucked between two boulders on the shore. I plugged my nose and walked away in disgust.
another person on the island—worse, actually. In a place so far removed from the din of civilization, the WAG bags were a constant reminder that there were people out here whom I probably wouldn’t get along with. Not only did I become angry at these people for leaving their mark on this untouched place, but their poop hindered the solo experience that I had traveled so far to find.
Shouldering a Burden
I also felt an immense burden; obviously someone had to carry these bags off the island and dispose of them properly. At times I even sympathized with whoever had left them. Nobody hates hauling their own feces around more than I. But the only thing that seemed worse was carrying a stranger’s. I arrived on Wheat Island after nearly a week- long tour around Deer Isle, and I had already accumulated about four Ziploc bags of my own to carry out. Finding space to secure all of the cumbersome WAG bags onto my kayak would have proved quite a feat.
I eventually made my decision, in part, by reading through the island’s MITA logbook. Just a week before, another visitor who had spent two nights camped on Wheat Island had written, “Found WAG bags down on the ledges. Shame on them!” This meant that not only was I not the first person to have my peaceful time on the island interrupted by finding the bags, but that somebody as outraged as myself had also left them there. When the stormy weather subsided two days later, I shoved off into calm waters and paddled back toward Stonington. I’m not proud of my decision to leave the bags for someone else to find. But I hope that writing this story will help to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future. (See the article on page 19 for tips on dealing with human waste, should you encounter it on an island.) Epilogue: Monitor skipper Henri Gignoux found and disposed of the WAG bags on Wheat 10 days after Levi’s visit.
An Unwelcome Presence
Located about six miles south of Stonington, Wheat Island can make for a challenging paddle. The remoteness of this island only enhances the intoxicating sense of solitude. But during my stay, the pile of WAG bags, a stone’s throw from the MITA campsite, created a presence that distracted me from the seclusion I had come here to experience. Over time, the mound of blue bags felt like having 18
M I TA .O R G
Wheat Island looks idyllic, but hey, what’s that smell? Photo: Levi Bridges.
Island Waste: See Something, Say Something In his unfortunate tale about sharing Wheat Island with a dozen fragrant WAG bags, member Levi Bridges reminds us that human waste disposal is an enduring problem on the islands. Although stories such as Levi’s are much less common today than they were 15 or 20 years ago, visitors will always run the risk of stumbling upon the waste of other, less respectful, users. What should members do about it?
In these cases, the best thing members can do is call or email the MITA office to let us know about the situation. An island adopter might be willing to take a special trip out to the island to take care of the problem. Or we can ask a Monitor Skipper to address the issue during his or her next run out to the site. Sometimes it may take some time before we are able to come up with a solution. For example, it was more than a year before a crew could be assembled to remove a raft of hundreds of tires from Inner Sand Island in 2007. But the sooner we know about the problem, the sooner we will be able to stop it from affecting the experience of future visitors.
Paul Dobbins checks on an Ocean Approved farm in Casco Bay in early April, a few weeks before scheduled harvest. Photo: Emma Pope-Welch. continued from page 1
Final products include three different kelps cut into noodles, salad, slaw (all frozen, not dried), and a recent addition to the line, dilly kelp pickles. All are available at local grocers and fish markets and were even picked up by Whole Foods after Tollef shared the slaw products with their local forager.
The rope-grown kelp farms are small in scale relative to the $7 billion international seaweed industry, but they represent the first attempt to cultivate kelp in the United States. The Ocean Approved operation puts the United States on the map as the 29th country farming seaweed. Their work started in 2009, and they continue to grow and expand, taking on new species and locations but always keeping in mind their impact.
The company’s website includes
informational videos about kelp farming, delicious recipes and a store finder. Check them out at oceanapproved.com and
The best part? The plants are truly green. Ocean Approved works with species native to the Gulf of Maine, and the plants themselves create energy and food by absorbing nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon dioxide—all things Paul told me the bay has a little too much of. The farm also creates a nice shade structure for other marine animals to live around including snails, urchins, lump fish, and all kinds of other small fish. “The kelp does an exceptional job of attracting life,” Paul says. The ocean waters of the Gulf of Maine are ideal for this farming and the product is healthy, too. Kelps are a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, copper, iron, iodine, and fiber.
catch their updates at facebook.com/ oceanapproved.
This summer at the
When possible, MITA asks that members pack out whatever they have room to carry with their own trash. (Be sure to use a plastic bag to protect your hand as you scoop up the waste and dispose of it, dog-poop style.) But in some cases, of course, it’s simply not reasonable or possible for members to carry out what they find on the islands. A solo kayaker cannot be expected to pack out a dozen bags of someone else’s poop. And nobody has the room to pack out some of the big-ticket items that occasionally are left on the islands or wash ashore, such as the refrigerator that landed on Jewell Island a few years ago.
Grand Finale of
July 7, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Payson Park, Portland, ME M I TA .O R G
Day Use Visitors Welcome at Swan Island In an effort to encourage day-use access at Swan Island by visitors arriving in their own boats (including MITA members), the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife no longer requires day-use guests to obtain a reservation prior to their visit, as stated in the printed 2012 MITA Guide. (This update came to us after the book had gone to press.) Day-use visitors are requested to come ashore only at the two official landing areas on the northwest side of the island across from Richmond and on the east side of the island near the campground (see map). Visitors should self-register at these sites and place their day-use fee in the collection box. Overnight visitors, and anyone using the ferry from Richmond, must still place a reservation prior to their visit. Keep in mind that there is free parking available for visitors at the Swan Island parking lot in Richmond.
A topo map showing the northern half of Swan Island in the Kennebec River, with landing areas indicated.
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