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The Island Trail T H E N E W S L E T T 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 M M E R 2 0 1 5

L.L.Bean Buoys Maine Island Trail with $100,000 Gift By D O U G W E LC H, E X E C U T I V E D I R E C TO R

In 1987, long before “public/private ventures” became trendy, the Island Institute submitted a grant proposal to the State of Maine’s Department of Conservation (DOC) and L.L. Bean of Freeport. The idea was to create a Maine Island Trail Association, based on $2,500 in seed money from the State and $6,700 from L.L. Bean to be matched by the fledgling organization’s membership dues. Both the State and L.L. Bean accepted this proposal, and thus the Maine Island Trail was born. (At the time, nobody could have known that through this agreement the concept of a recreational water trail was born as well. Now, according to the American Canoe Association, there are 567 water trails in North America, and the Maine Island Trail was the first.) The Trail was established based on the notion that visitors to the islands could be entrusted with their care. cont. on page 2

In This Issue PADDLING WITH A PURPOSE ......................... 4 2014: FINANCIAL yEAR IN REVIEW ............... 8 CONSERVATION IN KIND ............................... 13 UP AND COMING MITA EVENTS................... 14

Monitor Skippers are critical to carrying out MITA’s commitment to stewardship. Apprentice Monitor Skipper Tom Morris (in back), with wife Marion learning the ropes from MITA’s Brian Marcaurelle (at right) and his wife Melissa, during an island cleanup in Stonington.

Monitor Skippers: Volunteers Anchor MITA’s Stewardship Efforts By K E V I N LO MA N G I N O

After a lifetime on the water in Maine, one of Tom McKinney’s most memorable moments came a few years ago, while captaining the MITA skiff as a Monitor Skipper. While on a run to monitor seven different islands in Casco Bay, he was just north of Chebeague Island, when he spied a pair of dorsal fins on the water a few hundred feet off the bow. He slowed down and cut the engine in the hopes that he could draw the porpoises even closer. As the fins resurfaced, the porpoises continued their slow approach, and McKinney saw that it was a mother and calf. “It still gives me a little chill up and down my spine when I think about those kinds of moments,” McKinney recalls.

‘It’s Expanded My Horizons’

McKinney is one of about 20 volunteer skippers who monitor the islands on regularly-scheduled runs during the summer, collecting data about island usage, inspecting campsites, and talking with visitors. Skippering for cleanups and other work projects has brought him to areas of Maine that he’d never even thought about visiting. “It’s expanded my horizons,” he says. “I’ve mainly been a sailor, but having access to the MITA skiffs has given me the opportunity to see some different places that I’d never get to in a sailboat. continued on page 12

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Today, 28 years later, this notion has proven true. And the triangular partnership that created the Trail continues to thrive as well. M I TA B O A R D O F T R U S T E E S Stephen Birmingham, Cape Elizabeth, ME Kelly Boden, Portland, ME Dan Carr, Dayton, ME Nicole Connelly, Falmouth, ME Kathy Eickenberg, Liberty, ME Mark Fasold, Yarmouth, ME Tom Franklin, Portland, ME Odette Galli, Falmouth, ME Lindsay Hancock, Gray, ME Rodger Herrigel, Phippsburg, ME Alicia Heyburn, Brunswick, ME Liz Incze, Cumberland Foreside, ME Cindy Knowles, Cumberland Center, ME Melissa Paly, Kittery, ME Andrew Stern, Falmouth, ME Lucas St. Clair, Portland, ME Jeremy Wintersteen, Portland, ME


Doug Welch • Executive Director

It is in the context of this long and growing relationship that I am thrilled to announce a gift of $100,000 from L.L. Bean to the Maine Island Trail Association. This contribution specifically goes to MITA’s endowment – the Wild Islands Campaign. As announced in 2013, the proceeds of this fund support MITA’s stewardship work on the islands each year. With this very generous gift, the Wild Islands Campaign has generated $900,000.

Jack Phillips • Development Director Greg Field • Director of Finance & Operations Margaret Gerber • Membership & Development Associate Maria Jenness • Regional Stewardship Manager Chris Wall • Regional Stewardship Manager Erin Quigley • Membership Manager Jennifer Van Allen • Newsletter Editor Brian Marcaurelle • Program Director Pro-bono newsletter design services by Jillfrances Gray : JFG Visual Communications 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 •

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The relationship with L.L. Bean has grown and matured over the years. A senior staff member of L.L. Bean has been a member of the MITA Board of Trustees since 2005, beginning with Stafford Soule, who served for six years. In 2011, L.L. Bean’s CFO Mark Fasold joined the MITA Board and was quickly elected Chairman. Concurrently, MITA has taken a more active role in L.L.Bean’s Summer in the Park and other events and has been actively exploring new connections to its newly redeveloped Outdoor Discovery School in Freeport.

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The Wild Islands Campaign endowment fund is invested with the Maine Community Foundation and managed closely by the MITA Board of Directors. A formal investment policy specifies that only interest income from the fund, not its principal, will be made available to ensure the health of our stewardship work. Specifically, the fund pays for the purchase, operation, and periodic replacement of MITA vehicles, skiffs, motors, and trailers, plus a portion of the staff expense of managing MITA’s volunteers. The fund, which is anticipated to grow to $2 million, will ensure that the wild islands that are so iconic of Maine’s beautiful coastline will forever be managed by a volunteer corps of citizen stewards. It is an admittedly simple and idealistic model of land management that has worked remarkably well for 28 years now.

As MITA members, we have the great privilege of gently enjoying these islands and ensuring that others will have these same recreational opportunities into the future. Members of the public similarly enjoy these opportunities on the public islands. And the state of Maine enjoys the economic impact and sales tax proceeds from thousands of out-of-state visitors to the trail each year.

The Maine Island Trail would not exist without volunteers caring for the private - and public-owned islands that comprise the Trail. Through the Wild Islands Campaign, L.L.Bean is helping to ensure that those volunteers have the tools and coordination needed to get the job done each year. This is truly an honor for MITA. Everyone recognizes L.L.Bean as a powerful force in recreation, but this grant reinforces the company’s commitment to stewardship of the natural resources on which recreation depends. The Maine Island Trail would not exist without volunteers caring for the private- and public-owned islands that comprise the Trail. Through the Wild Islands Campaign, L.L.Bean is helping to ensure that those volunteers have the tools and coordination needed to get the job done each year. On behalf of the Maine Island Trail Association, I offer my deepest appreciation to L.L. Bean for the visionary leadership that started in 1987 and continues today with this remarkable gift. We thank L.L. Bean as great corporate citizens, in addition to many members of the Bean family and staff who themselves are MITA members and supporters. Truly this is a partnership worth celebrating.

Remembering Great Friends of MITA This year, MITA lost several of its staunchest stewards with the deaths of Merv Taylor, Bob Patten, Jon Lawton, and Ben Cashen. Each of them devoted more than two decades of service to MITA in a variety of ways. They were not just committed volunteers and members, but treasured colleagues and friends.

Merv Taylor

Merv Taylor passed away on January 8, 2015, at age 83. A Skipper for 15 years, and an active Island Adopter and Trustee, Merv served on MITA’s board and as its Treasurer in the mid 1990s. Merv was passionate about pitching the MITA mission to anyone who would listen. “His friendly personality— warm, quiet, intelligent, and just plain ‘winning’ —helped build a lasting following of island visitors who subscribed to the MITA credo of personal stewardship,” says MITA cofounder Dave Getchell Sr. Over the years, Merv mentored scores of up-and-coming Skippers, and became known for his methodical manner, his calm leadership, and his ardent commitment to safety. Skipper Allan Toubman, who apprenticed under Merv, recalls how, on a trip to Seal Bay, Merv insisted on fishing several six-foot logs out of the water. “He was worried that the next guy coming along would hit one and put a hole in his boat,” Toubman recalls. When Merv retired from Skippering in 2013, he had his Skipper hat embroidered with two gold stars—one for each decade of service. That summer, he was awarded MITA’s highest honor— the Dave and Dorrie Getchell Spirit of MITA Award—in recognition of his longstanding dedication to the Trail. 3

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Bob Patten

Bob Patten passed away on February 21, 2015 at age 91. A 23-year member of MITA, and a board member from 1995 to 1998, Bob was a staunch advocate for the preservation of Jewell Island. By the early 1990s, the Casco Bay island— popular for its anchoring grounds and camping spots— was marred by misuse and litter. As District Governor of the Rotary Club, Bob learned of the Brunswick’s club’s interest in the island and rallied support from fellow Rotarians from Portland and Cape Elizabeth. Together, this small army restored the 221-acre Island, constructing several privies and fire pits and ridding the island of waste and litter. At the time of his death, Bob was planning a summer 2015 celebration of Rotary’s improvements to Jewell— which remains the most popular island on the Trail. “Bob played a huge role in the comeback of Jewell,” says MITA board member Jeremy Wintersteen. “The enjoyment people get today from their visits there is largely due to his energy, persistence, and good nature.”

Jon Lawton

On April 17, 2015, Jon Lawton passed away unexpectedly at age 75. Since joining MITA in 1994, and becoming a Monitor Skipper in 2002, Jon and his wife Charlotte have been among MITA’s most prolific Skippers, logging in excess of 100 volunteer hours per season. At least twice a week during the boating season, Jon and Charlotte were out in the MITA skiff, checking on islands along the five monitor run routes that they covered from Deer Isle to Downeast—as wide a range as any skipper.

On island cleanups, seats in the Lawton’s boat were coveted— volunteers were always eager for Jon’s diligent captaining, Charlotte’s delicious cookies, and the general warmth and joy that radiated from the two which made even new acquaintances feel like family. Last August, MITA bestowed Jon and Charlotte with the Dave and Dorrie Getchell Spirit of MITA Award in honor of their immense and lasting contributions to the Trail. Jon will be remembered for his constant grin, his readiness to help with any project, his confident boat handling, and his extraordinary teamwork with First Mate Charlotte.

Ben Cashen

Ben described MITA as “one of my favorite organizations of all time,” and proudly reported that as a kid he was considered MITA’s youngest member. This makes his passing at age 35 on April 26, 2015 after a twoyear battle with cancer all the more heartwrenching. After learning of MITA in the early 1990s from a TV spot on WBZ, Ben and his father Bob became hooked. In the years since he could be found gunkholing along the coast in the family Grumman, or more recently exploring Penobscot Bay in his Grady White. Boaters will remember Ben as the friendly and capable dockmaster at Wayfarer Marine, as well as the calm and welcoming voice on Channel 16. Ben was a dedicated MITA member who provided valuable guidance with efforts to further engage the cruising community along the Trail. MITA benefited greatly from his wisdom, judgment and entrepreneurial thinking. An iconic figure on Maine waters, flags in Camden Harbor were flewn at half-mast upon his passing. We will miss the kind hearts and able hands of Merv, Bob, Jon, and Ben. While leaving no trace on the islands, each left an indelible mark on the Trail.

Paddling with a Purpose MITA members make paddling Maine’s coast into a mission B y J ennifer Van A llen

Last September, MITA members Chuck Domenie and Sandra Townsend took an expedition that many just dream about: they spent nearly a month paddling from Eastport to Portland, and made a dozen stops on the Maine Island Trail along the way. Though Domenie and Townsend are sea kayak guides, neither had traveled as far or spent as long in a kayak before. After musing about such a trip for years, they learned that Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) needed volunteers to gather water samples to help scientists monitor marine microplastics. With that, talk turned into an itinerary. “It was just the thing I was looking for,” says Domenie, 29, who was a kayak and SUP guide at the Eastern Mountain Sports Kayak School in Rhode Island. “Scientists don’t have the money to collect the data they need. But we just go out there for fun, and we can help them with that. If we don’t have healthy rivers and oceans, no one is going to want to go in them,” he says. Collection was fairly simple. [See story, page 5] And they personally delivered the samples they’d collected to the researcher, Abby Barrows, in Stonington.

Kayak make and model: Wilderness Systems Tempest Days on water: 23 Miles traveled: 200 Stops made: 24 Trail Sites visited: Cross, Ram, Mink, Bois Bubert, Pond, Russ, Wyer, Bar, Cuckolds, Bangs, and Cow Islands Wildlife sightings: Seals, eagles, herons, red-throated loons, porpoise, and baby jellyfish What did you eat? We ate like kings! We’d have pancakes for breakfast, and stews and burritos for dinner. For lunch, we’d have miniature Snickers bars and trail mix. On Russ Island, we harvested mussels from the ocean and ate them. Logistics: The post office will hold packages for up to 30 days. So we sent supplies to post offices along our route that were located a half mile from a boat landing—Rockport and Milbridge. When we arrived, we parked our kayaks at the landing, walked to the post office, picked up our packages, sent home any supplies we didn’t need, and got on our way. Best surprise: The kindness of strangers. Maybe it’s just Maine; maybe it’s people in general. When people heard what we

were doing, they were so nice, letting us fill our water bottles and recharge our electronics, charging us less than the posted rate, and offering places to stay for free. One guy even drove us to buy some pizza. Worst surprise: There was a lot of plastic out there and often in places I would not expect to see it. And not just plastic bottles; there were weird, big pieces of plastic that we ended up taking with us and using as a table for our meals. Magic moments: On day 17, we were paddling from Rockland to Bar Island, and were on the water from 8:30 AM to sunset. As we paddled through Muscongus Bay, we were surrounded by thousands of baby jellyfish. That night on Bar Island, we sat on a tent platform, and watched an awesome sunset. What did sampling involve? Once we got the protocol, it was pretty simple to follow. We tried to sample near wastewater treatment plants, as they don’t necessarily have any filters or ways of removing the microplastics. For collection, we used one-liter plastic bottles. We just had to record the time of day, the water temperature, and the direction of the wind.

Though the paddlers had planned to finish at the New Hampshire border, after encountering overwhelming winds and weather while rounding Portland Head Light, they wrapped it up early. “I didn’t have any qualms about not making it to a geographic boundary we arbitrarily set before we left,” Domenie says. “I got to spend 23 days on the water along the coast of Maine with a good friend, paddling on some of the nicest and roughest water I have ever been out in. “Though it would have been nice to go the whole coast,” he adds, “a trip should never truly be about the destination.” 4

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Domenie manages the Newton, Massachusetts, location of Boating in Boston, a nonprofit that works to improve water access throughout the city.

Making Expeditions into Scientific Missions B y J ennifer Van A llen

Connect with MITA Online

Stay in the know about volunteer opportunities, events, activities, and Trail news. • Web: • Email Newsletter: subscribe on our website • Facebook: maineislandtrail • YouTube: maineislandtrail • Twitter: • Instagram: @meislandtrail

Disheartened by water pollution on the Maine Island Trail? There’s good news. Even beyond picking up litter, you can help make the waters safe, healthy, and clean for generations to come.

“Because data integrity is so important to us, we work with scientists to design simple protocols, so there is almost no chance of error,” says Emily Stifler Wolfe, ASC’s marketing and outreach coordinator.

Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC), a nonprofit based in Bozeman, Montana, matches scientists in need of data with people heading out on recreational expeditions. Since ASC was launched four years ago, 2421 adventurers have collected data for 114 scientists. Those efforts saved conservation organizations 12,900 days in data collection, just in 2014.

To collect data for Barrows’ project, Domenie and Townsend needed just a few basic supplies: a tool to record GPS coordinates, a bottle big enough to hold one liter of water, and a Sharpie and duct tape to record the time and location of the sample collection. “I like to have people take a lot of notes about what’s happening around them,’ says Barrows.

“There would be no way that I could conduct this kind of research on this scale on my own,” says Abby Barrows, principal investigator for ASC research on marine microplastics. “ASC has opened up this amazing potential for collecting data, because people on expeditions are going into all these areas that most researchers don’t have the ability or the funding to reach,” says Barrows, who is based in Stonington.

MITA Members Get Wilderness First Aid Afloat This year, MITA hosted its first Wilderness First Aid Afloat course for members at a special discounted rate. The course was organized by Nancy Zane of Unity College and Castine Kayak Adventures. More than 15 MITA members participated, and there was plenty of interest from others who couldn’t make it. Stay tuned for similar offerings next spring, and a special thanks to Nancy!


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So far, Barrows has received more than 200 samples collected by skiers, sailors, surfers, and paddlers from Greenland to New Zealand to the Antarctic Peninsula. That includes the samples collected last fall by MITA members Chuck Domenie and Sandra Townsend, as they paddled Maine’s coast. (See story on Page 4.) “Each week more samples arrive from amazing and remote locations from all over the world,” says Barrows, noting that 600 more samples were en route to her office. No formal training or scientific background is required to volunteer. Interested volunteers must fill out a form on the ASC website and go through basic training that typically involves watching a video, reading protocols, and talking with ASC staff.

She has spent the last three years studying marine microplastics—pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size in the ocean—that come from everything from drink bottles to cosmetics.

“ASC has opened up this amazing potential for collecting data, because people on expeditions are going into all these areas that most researchers don’t have the ability or the funding to reach.” Microplastics become magnets for toxins like DDT, BPA, and pesticides, which can disrupt digestion, development, and the endocrine system in fish. And when those fish end up on our dinner plates, they become human health risks. “Then we’re consuming these toxins as well,” Barrows says. She is studying the prevalence of microplastics in the ocean and how they’re affecting different forms of life. “This is really important scientific research for anyone who appreciates the marine environment,” she says. “Even taking one liter of water can contribute to filling this knowledge gap.” Learn more about Ms. Barrows’ research, and other ASC volunteer opportunities at

Serendipity at Sea Message in a bottle shows how connected we are on the Maine Island Trail. B y J ennifer Van A llen

When Doug Welch found a message in a bottle on Bois Bubert Island at a MITA cleanup last fall, he didn’t think much of it. After all, for those participating in Maine Island Trail cleanups, messages in bottles are a fairly regular find. The notes tend to be scribbled half-heartedly. Often they’re penned by school-aged vacationers, and contain just a name and a number to call if found. So Welch didn’t think to open the bottle until he and the MITA staff were on the road headed back to Portland. He never could have guessed that on that remote island in Downeast Maine, he’d discover a soulful note passed along by a friend who lived 150 miles away. But that’s exactly what happened. Inside the plastic bottle was a scrolledup piece of parchment paper with an intimate letter and an intricate pen drawing, along with another paper with faded ink. Accompanying it was a third note signed by the people who had passed it along: Jack and Luna. Welch realized immediately that it had to be his friend Jack Soley from Peaks Island and his daughter Luna. Luna and Doug’s daughter Genevieve are high school classmates.

The Soleys had reached out to the sender, but the post office had returned their note with no forwarding address. They put the note on their refrigerator while they decided what to do next. “In all the decades of finding messages, nothing struck the same chord,” says Jack Soley. “We wanted to do it justice, and we wanted to honor the spirit with which it was written.” Eventually they put the note back into a bottle, wrote a note of their own (“May the kindness embodied in these words be spread far and wide,” they said), and sent it off from their second home in Corea. A year later, when Welch showed Soley

the note over lunch, he was stunned. “It was just so bizarre,” says Soley. To get from Corea to Bois Bubert, the bottle had traveled around Gouldsboro and Dyer Bays, and into Pigeon Hill Bay; it had rounded Dyer Neck and Petit Manan Point along the way. Needless to say, the incident made an enduring impression on the friends. The Island Trail had connected them in a way that would have been impossible in their on-land lives. It is often said that Maine is just one small town. And perhaps on the Island Trail, it’s even smaller. “It was a reminder of how much connectivity there is in the world,” says Soley, “especially on the coast of Maine.” See below, excerpt from the original message in a bottle found on Peaks Island:

e Dear Someone, You’ve just found my letter. That makes you very lucky. From now on, everything is going to be O.K….you may not know me... but I assure you a memory has been formed. One of a mystery. One of

“How many Jack and Lunas could there be in Maine?” says Welch, MITA’s executive director. “ I was just shocked.”

a whispering voice on parchment paper. One of fate giving you a

The only person more surprised was Jack Soley. He and his daughter had indeed discovered the note three years earlier near their home on Peaks Island. It had been encased in a glass bottle burnished with an “S” that had been carefully corked and waxed shut. Its message had poignancy well beyond anything they’d been accustomed to finding. (See the note, at right.)

..Something you should know, is that you are loved, and very special,

The writer had signed the note, left her South Portland address, and invited a response, with the plea that the reader 6

compassionately respect what she had written. “Please be kind,” she wrote. “I’m trusting you.”

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bottle from the sea.

stranger...even though some days it may not seem like it, there’s always someone with an open heart and a spot for you…. life is short and beautiful, please don’t forget that... If you would like to write back to me, I will leave two blank sheets and one with my address. Please be kind, I’m trusting you.

MITA MEMBERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT Making waves on the Trail and in their on-land lives the Maine Island Trail. In 2013, Huth wrote The Lost Art of Finding Our Way, which explores methods of navigation used before the invention of the nautical chronometer. His interest in the subject was spurred, in part, by a fogged-in paddle from Islesford, where he had to use environmental cues to make it safely home, and a similar experience in Nantucket, where two other paddlers disappeared.

Ellen Shockro, of Corona Del Mar, California, spends five months each year at her home in Stonington. At 72, Shockro has finished 68 triathlons (including two Ironmans) and more than 350 open-water swimming races, including five finishes of the Peaks to Portland Swim. Shockro is planning to explore the trail by kayak in 2015. “The idea of an island trail is so remarkable—I love it,” says Shockro, who holds a PhD in Chinese history and retired as a professor of History and Humanities at Pasadena City College. “I would love to try to swim from island to island.”

John Huth, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a Harvard physics professor who was part of the ATLAS team that discovered the Higgs boson—or so-called “God Particle.” He has been visiting Maine all his life, and in recent years, made regular summer getaways to sites on 7

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These days, he can often be seen on his 36-foot power boat Christian Alf , which is named for both his father and his son. “I’m a big fan of MITA, and I contribute any way I can,” he says.

In the course of their adventures, Theberge and Johnson have endured rainsoaked campouts, huge southerly swells, and even a close encounter with a whale.

Roger Berle, of Cliff Island, has labored under the questionable moniker of the mayor of Cliff Island but has indeed played leading roles in a variety of nonprofit groups that work to ensure the environmental and economic health of Casco Bay, including Maine Conservation Voters, Ocean Conservation Trust of Casco Bay, Portland Trails, and the Maine Islands Coalition, to name a few. An avid kayaker, sailor, and power boater, he’s visited several dozen MITA sites and been a long time supporter of the Trail.

Emmie Theberge and Joel Johnson, of Hallowell, Maine, have embarked on many expeditions together along the Maine Island Trail since they met in 2012. Theberge is outreach manager and clean energy policy advocate at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, and Johnson is an economist at the Maine Center for Economic Policy. In 2013, they spent a week paddling between Bar Harbor and Machias. Last year, they paddled from Portland to Rockland. Along the way, they’ve endured rainsoaked campouts, huge southerly swells, and even a close encounter with wildlife. While paddling off of Ironbound Island in Frenchman Bay during their paddle from Bar Harbor to Machias, a whale surfaced just 15 feet from their kayaks. “It was incredible!” says Johnson, a former sea kayak guide. A Rockland to Bar Harbor paddle is in the works for the summer ahead. “Maine’s islands and the Trail are a treasured place for both of us,” says Theerge.

Read more about the adventures of these MITA members on our Tales of the Trail blog at

2014: The Financial Year in Review MITA enjoyed another successful year financially. Membership dues were stable, and while individual contributions declined slightly compared with the prior year’s results, total revenue was buoyed by significant growth in grant and foundation support. Success in diversifying our income streams allows us to remain committed to keeping annual membership dues as low as possible. Total expenses declined modestly from 2013, largely due to reduced fundraising costs with the winding down of directly funded support to build MITA’s endowment through the Wild Islands Campaign. Because of the positive financial outlook, MITA was able to purchase new trailers and a boat engine out of current cash assets—thus, we were able to fund much-needed new equipment for our Program Staff and volunteer Monitor Skippers without having to draw on endowment funds. The significant growth in our assets (the endowment investments and equipment) reflects that good news. The bottom line results show a modest net income surplus and continued strong increases in our total net assets. All of this points to a steady course for MITA’s financials in the year ahead and a stabilizing base to protect the Association from economic volatility in the long term.

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Statement of Financial Position* ASSETS

FY 14

FY 13

Current Assets



Other Assets (incl. Restricted Investments)





Capital Assets (Property & Equipment)


Total Assets


In 2014… • MITA volunteers —including monitors, adopters, and cleanup crews—spent

more than 5000 hours in outreach and

stewardship activities. That’s equivalent to

having two full-time year-round employees!

LIABILITIES & NET ASSETS Current Liabilities



Net Assets



Total Liabilities & Net Assets





• Volunteers removed more than 900 bags of trash from island shorelines. Plus they

collected roughly 600 salvageable lobster buoys and returned them to fishermen for reuse.

• Little Chebeague had a resident caretaker for the first time in MITA’s history, to aid in the island’s intense natural resource

Revenue & Expenses by Area

management and interact with island

SUPPORT & REVENUE Membership Dues & Unrestricted Contributions Grants, Sponsorships & Contracts Events

Investment Income & Other Total Unrestricted Revenue & Other Support

FY 14

FY 13













EXPENSES Program Services

Fund Development & Member Recruitment



Total Expenses









*CPA audited financials are available upon request.

Thanks to generous members and donors, MITA’s financial footing grew much steadier in 2014. Thank you for your support!


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visitors. Christina Hassett, a former Jewell Island caretaker, will be returning to Little Chebeague again in 2015.

Going to Great Lengths for Good Water Coming home to the Maine Island Trail B y J ennifer Van A llen

The Maine Island Trail begins in Kittery, but my own journey to it began a thousand miles away in the Midwest. My parents were water people in suburban exile. My dad grew up sailing a wooden Penguin named The Flirt on the Chesapeake. He’d settled in Indiana for work, but he and Mom ached to be back on the ocean. Somehow, amidst the cornfields and shopping malls, they found a 26-foot O’Day named Sanctuary and a 4-mile long reservoir with an open slip. So from the time I was four years old, Saturdays were reserved for sailing. When the wind, motor, and my sister’s iffy stomach cooperated, we spent hours in the stillness that being afloat affords, breaking only periodically when Dad barked, “COME ABOUT!” At the time, and in that place, sailing seemed downright weird. All my friends spent their summers on soccer fields and at swimming pools. I didn’t know anyone else whose parents gravitated to boats. That is, until about 20 years later, when I met Peter, the man I’d marry. His parents, too, had gone to great lengths for good water. Each June in Iowa, they packed Peter into a station wagon, and drove 16.5 hours to Long Island, so he could learn to paddle, swim, and fall in love with the salty Atlantic. They stayed all the way until September, and it would be weeks after school started before Peter swapped surf trunks for long pants. After years of feeling like fish out of water, we were thrilled to have landed one another. Of course, sharing the water that you love with the one you love doesn’t always go so smoothly. Attempts to paddle in tandem ended in tears. In my first sculling lesson, I slipped while carrying the rowing shell to the water. The boat sliced through my ear, and required 22 stitches to repair. 10

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Jen and Peter Van Allen, taking a break from a 14-mile paddling excursion in Long Island Sound

It wasn’t until we gave one another the latitude to go solo that synchronicity ensued. I started running more. He sculled thousands of miles on Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River. But together we built a life that revolved as much around the winds and the tides as it did in our fondest memories. We covered our walls with maps, crammed the bookshelves with seafaring tales, and always kept nautical charts within reach. In 2001, Castine became our paradise found, a vacationland that felt more like home than our permanent address. The principal source of action was the procession of boats in and out of the town wharf, and Peter spent hours exploring Penobscot Bay by kayak, his MITA guide close at hand. Each year became a matter of one week in Maine and 51 weeks of waiting for it. And as we waited in Philadelphia, Peter got on the water any way he could, in a rowing shell, a kayak, or on a stand-up paddleboard. And when the waves were good, he’d set the alarm for 3:30 AM, drive 90 minutes to Ocean City, New Jersey to surf, and finish in time to be

at his desk by 9 AM—sand between his toes, skin ripe with sweat and saltwater. Each spring, the MITA Trail Guide arrived like a rescue rope that connected us to the life we dreamed about. It prompted hours of conversation about next year’s adventures on the Maine Island Trail, which evolved into hours more of talk about how to create an outside life that wasn’t possible from where we were. Last April, we finally moved to Maine, closer to the Island Trail we treasure. Family and friends warned about blizzards and black flies and all those darn bridges. By reaching for a dream that was a decade in the making, they cautioned, we were setting ourselves up for major disappointment. After all, workaday life wasn’t vacation; there was no way it could live up to our vaunted expectations. And they were right. Permanently residing along the Trail has been radically different than week-long visits. It’s so much better. In barely a year, we feel more at home than we did after many years in Philadelphia. That happens when you live among so many people who define quality of life the same way you do.

Rules of the Road

Noah Van Allen, age 3, making himself at home on the Maine Island Trail.

We share the Maine Island Trail with a diverse group of commercial and recreational boats. Here’s a refresher on how to stay safe while you’re on the water this summer:

For more information on commercial vessel traffic in busy harbors, tune in to Channel 13, on which large vessels may announce when they’re approaching busy harbors or getting underway from berth.

Size matters. The best rule of thumb is to always give the larger boat the right of way. As your craft allows, stay in shallower areas near the shoreline whenever possible—outside the deep draft channel.

Avoid tugs and tows. If you see a tug near a barge or freighter, assume they’re connected. Never attempt to pass between them, and stay away. A tug can have little control over the barge it is towing.

Respect those at work. MITA recommends that recreational boaters always give way to tugs, tows, fishing boats, ferries, and other commercial vessels.

Last summer, weekdays were punctuated by sunrise paddles on the Royal River; we spent sunsets at Winslow Park building sandcastles and collecting shells with Noah, our 3-year-old son. The tide clock hanging by the door—a gift from local friends and fellow MITA members—was the organizing force of our free time. Each weekend Peter targeted a new island to circumnavigate, and a new dog-eared page in the MITA Trail Guide to turn into a memory.

See and be seen. Always assume that another vessel cannot see you. Crews on large ships often have difficulty seeing small craft.

We had been bracing for the possibility that Noah wouldn’t share our love of water. He might be scared. He might love soccer more. One day last August, shortly after Maine Coast Heritage Trust secured public access to 15 acres of Clapboard Island, Peter was recounting his maiden voyage there, then stopped abruptly.

Tune in to traffic reports. Channels 16 and 9 on your VHF radio are the best to monitor, hail other vessels, and communicate with the Coast Guard.

Noah had boarded the kayak that was sitting on the grass. He had assumed a reclining position, clasped his hands behind his head, and seemed to be happily napping—very much at home on the Maine Island Trail indeed.

Jennifer Van Allen joined MITA in February as newsletter editor. Jennifer, Peter, and Noah live in Yarmouth. 11

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Watch your wake. When you’re operating a motorized vessel, you’re responsible for the effects of your wake. Be aware of docks, ferry landings, and smaller craft that may be impacted as you pass. Observe posted speed and nowake zones. Remember that your wake will travel ahead of you even if you’ve slowed down.

Steer clear of lobster boats. Lobstermen travel from buoy to buoy, often in tight circles, and while they’re focused on bringing up traps, they may not be as attuned to other boats nearby. If crossing paths with a lobster boat is unavoidable, do so from the working side of the boat and pass from behind— never in front—of the bow. Keep your distance from ferries. Ferries can generate strong propeller wash while maneuvering into and away from landings. Give them a wide berth to avoid these currents. Avoid head-on collisions. When meeting another vessel head on, a port-to-port passing is preferred, just like on a roadway.

Learn more about navigation from the U.S. Coast Guard at

MITA Film Fest Our 2015 Small Boaters’ Film Festival & Silent Auction was a smashing success! Attendees had the chance to check out some amazing water-based films from around the country, as well as from right here in Maine. They also bid on a stellar collection of auction items, including vintage sea kayaks, a brand-new paddleboard, an L.L. Bean cruiser bicycle, boat excursions, trips, and island stays. Attendees enjoyed delicious food, good company, and sipped everpopular Maine Island Trail Ale from Rising Tide Brewing Co. Thanks to all of our donors for supporting the Maine Island Trail Association and making this year’s event one to remember, and a very special thanks to our media sponsors, Maine Magazine and 98.9 WCLZ, for helping us get the word out!

continued from page 1

There are just so many places that you never realized were so beautiful.”

The Unsung Heroes

While out on the Trail, Monitor Skippers act as ambassadors of MITA. They’re critical to representing and carrying out the commitment to stewardship that’s at the core of MITA’s mission. “The Monitor Skippers are MITA’s eyes and ears out on the water, as well as the backbone of our island stewardship efforts,” says Regional Stewardship Manager Maria Jenness. “In a lot of ways they are the unsung heroes, doing the work that nobody sees but which makes the Trail what it is for everyone.” The care Monitor Skippers provide is one of the big attractions of the Trail for island owners, Jenness says. All of their hard work translates to increased owner satisfaction with the Trail, which ultimately means keeping more islands on the Trail, and the opportunity to open up more for recreation. Allan Toubman, who’s been skippering since 2003, concedes that work done by Monitor Skippers can be tough, but rewarding. “When you go by in that boat that has Maine Island Trail written across the side, everybody out there recognizes it,” he says. “It’s a really good feeling of being someone who’s contributing something to the community.”

Humble Beginnings

In MITA’s earliest days—before the advent of the Monitor program—the job of visiting islands and promoting stewardship fell mainly to MITA co-founder Dave Getchell, Sr. From the beginning, there was a recognition that stewardship would involve visiting the islands and talking to people and convincing them to buy into the system. Part of that convincing process was making sure that the shorelines and campsites were always in good condition, Getchell says. And that required a thoughtful strategy, as island visitors wouldn’t take kindly to someone coming over and telling them what to do. 12

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“We always thought it was important to have a low-key approach and not be seen as some sort of eco-cops,” says Getchell. “Going out to a campsite and finding it in good shape is a subtle way to get the message across, but it’s worked amazingly well.”

Growing Need for Volunteers

As the organization and the Trail continued to grow during in the 1990s, MITA staff members Cate Cronin and Karen Stimpson created a formal Monitor Skipper program. In a 1994 issue of this newsletter, Getchell made this recruitment pitch: “The job is demanding as to both time and skill, but those interested will find there are rewards that make the effort worthwhile, the main one being the opportunity to get to know and work among some of the most beautiful islands anywhere.” The program expanded over the years, and for the last decade, there have been about 20 volunteer monitors. But in that time, the Trail has also expanded, and Skippers now patrol more than 100 sites stretching from Portland to Machias. Plus, they assist with dozens of cleanups and work days each season. MITA is ramping up its efforts to recruit more Monitor Skippers, to buoy the ranks and ensure continuity as more Skippers retire. “We would be in a tough position if a number of the current skippers decided to retire in quick succession,” says Jenness.

New on the Trail Shown here, a tent platform overlooking a quiet harbor on one of the Trail’s seven new sites. Check your 2015 MITA Trail Guide for details. Join or renew today to get this year’s guide! Contact us at

Skills and Thrills

To become a Monitor Skipper, prospective volunteers must already have significant coastal small-boating skills and experience, as well as a vehicle that can tow the MITA skiffs. Volunteers go through an apprenticeship, in which they work alongside longtime skippers, to learn what the job involves. On the job, Monitor Skippers get to practice and sharpen their boating skills, which is part of the fun. “Part of the enjoyment is being out there in lots of different conditions and the challenge of working around Mother Nature,” says Toubman. “It can be a perfectly-gorgeous day, but in the space of a few minutes you can have fog starting to roll in, or the wind picking up, or a thunderstorm. You’ve got to stay alert and be ready for whatever she throws at you.” And after you get back to the dock, the program offers a number of opportunities to share what you’ve seen with a tight-knit group of colleagues. “It’s just great to spend time,” says McKinney, “with people who share the same love of the coast.”

If you’re interested in volunteering for the Monitor Skipper Program, please contact Maria Jenness,

In-Kind Conservation Thanks to land trusts, four treasured Trail sites become permanent preserves b y B rian M arcaurelle

One aspect of the Maine Island Trail that people find most surprising is that this nationally regarded recreational waterway is built on a foundation of handshake agreements. Generous landowners share their properties via the Trail with the understanding that these properties can be removed from the system at any time. Skeptics may wonder about the long-term viability of a system that relies on such simple relationships, but rarely in MITA’s history has a landowner chosen to opt out of the Trail after opting in. Thanks in large part to the voluntary nature of MITA’s agreements with landowners, the number of islands on the Trail has increased fivefold since its inception. Of course, credit is also due to the Trail users who have upheld their end of the bargain by practicing low-impact recreation and to the volunteer stewards who have taken such good care of Trail sites. But by design, MITA’s handshake agreements eliminate a potential barrier to entry for landowners and gives them peace of mind knowing that they can participate without committing forever or obligating future owners. While these agreements may be one of the Trail’s greatest strengths, they certainly are not ironclad. The sale of a property or a transfer of ownership can still result in loss of visitation privileges for Trail users. So when public access to privately owned islands is protected through a conservation easement or via acquisition by a land trust, there is good reason to celebrate. In 2014, we were given four such reasons.

The Goslings

The popularity of The Goslings is no secret to anyone who boats in Casco Bay. These islands have been part of the Trail only since 2010, but they have been a favorite local picnicking and 13

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camping spot for generations. In 2014, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) completed an ambitious fundraising campaign to purchase and protect The Goslings, preserving public access to these beloved islands for many more generations to come.

The prior owners ensured that their legacy of openly sharing the island would continue by transferring ownership to the Blue Hill Heritage Trust (BHHT) in late 2014. In the process, they also catalyzed a brand new partnership between BHHT and MITA.

Spaulding Island

MITA salutes these forward-thinking landowners and our land trust partners for protecting public access to special coastal properties for the long term. Important conservation successes such as these are positive developments for our coast, and they signify a healthy future for the Maine Island Trail.

One of the few island camping options in Muscle Ridge, Spaulding Island has been a key part of the Trail since 1990. The owners have graciously allowed Trail users to come ashore and spend the night at a sheltered spot on the northwest side of the island, away from family cabins and other structures. In November of last year, they granted a conservation easement to MCHT that preserves the island in a largely undeveloped state and continues the tradition of public access to the northwest site.

MITA By the Numbers Miles on the Maine Island Trail: 375 Sites on the Maine Island Trail: 212 MITA Members: 4,471

The number of islands on the Trail has increased fivefold since its inception. Pond Island

A majestic, wild island at the intersection of Jericho Bay and Blue Hill Bay, 240-acre Pond Island has been an important stopover for Trail users since 2004. Its former owners were deeply committed to protecting the island’s ecological values while welcoming responsible use of the property, and last year they ensured that Pond will remain open and well cared for long into the future by donating the island to MCHT.

Carleton Island

Tucked into the salt pond just west of Blue Hill Bay, Carleton Island sees few MITA visitors but nevertheless has been a fixture on the Trail since 1992.

MITA members from outside Maine: 2,328 (52%) Number of states represented by MITA members: 47 + Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Countries represented by MITA members: Canada, France, United Kingdom & United States Average tenure of MITA members: 8 years Granite Society Members (20+ years of MITA membership): 818 Stewardship Visits in 2014: 1,022* *Visits to Trail sites by MITA volunteers or staff for monitoring, cleanups, and work projects. The majority of these visits are made by Monitor Skippers. To learn more about the Monitor Skippers turn to page 1.

Summer Events Calendar

Wish List

• June 13: MITA and Southern Maine Sea Kayaking Network (SMSKN) paddle, launch at East End Beach, Portland • June 14: Cape Porpoise Island Cleanup with Kennebunkport Conservation Trust • June 14: Cleanup of Wreck and Round Islands with Island Heritage Trust • June 14: MITA and Royal River Conservation Trust Paddle to Spear Farm and Littlejohn Preserves • June 26–28: Wooden Boat Show, Mystic, Connecticut

MITA will gladly consider donations of anything from boats and vehicles to office equipment. Please call us at 207-761-8225 or e-mail if you would like to donate these or other items.


• June 28: Bay of Fundy Marathon and Street Fest, Lubec • June 29: Trail work day on Wreck Island with Island Heritage Trust (Weather date July 1) • July 8: Trail work day on Seguin Island (Weather date July 15) • July 25: MITA and SMSKN paddle

• US Coast Guard approved Life Jackets (Type III PFD) • Chart cases (contact MITA for details) • Small fire extinguisher

• TBD: Muscongus Bay Regional Steward Gathering


• August 20: MITA Stewardship Party

• 18V cordless impact drill

• September 5: Downeast Cleanup

• Garden cart or wheelbarrow

• September 12: Big Baker Island Cleanup, MDI Region

• Small wood stove for caretaker cabin

• September 19: Petit Manan Point Shoreline Cleanup

To sign up, get more information, or receive regular updates on upcoming MITA events and stewardship activities, contact or 207-761-8225.


• Vacuum Cleaner

HELP WANTED: MITA MONITOR SKIPPERS We’re seeking hearty volunteers to join our Monitor Skipper team! Looking for experienced skippers coastwide, but especially in the Deer Isle, Mount Desert Island, and Downeast regions.

Qualifications and Commitments:


• Significant power boat experience

• Use of MITA skiffs

• Tow vehicle

• Willingness to embark on full-day monitor runs a minimum of twice a month • Dedication to and passion for stewardship of Maine’s coastal islands

• Reimbursement for mileage & other direct expenses • Active participation in keeping wild islands clean and accessible

• Being part of a close-knit community of conscientious boaters

To learn more, contact Maria or Chris at 207-761-8225 or photo credit: Daniel E. Smith,


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Go Digital and Get Out There! Three great innovations go live in June



The 2015 MITA APP includes: • All 212 Trail sites and related amenities • Interactive chart of the Coast of Maine • Fabulous color photos • Remote off-line functionality that is GPS-enabled • Complete calendar of MITA events • ..and much, much more.

Download it free at the App store or Google Play: Search “Maine Island Trail.” All current MITA members will receive a password. (Non-members have limited access only.)


The all-new MITA MEETUP SITE provides a unique tool for MITA members to find like-minded people in their community and get out on the water. Go to and search for “Maine Island Trail.” And for those who prefer to skip the paper guidebook entirely, our new 2015 DIGITAL MEMBERSHIP (PILOT) is available at the reduced rate of $25. Digital membership includes: • The MITA App (with password) • Member discounts from Maine retailers, outfitters, etc. • Monthly electronic newsletter

NOTE: The app is not for navigational use.

• MITA paper newsletter • All MITA programs and events

The Maine Island Trail Association gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:


M I TA . O R G Bangor Savings Bank - Kamasouptra - Lee Auto Malls - Sabre Yachts - Verrill Dana - Wooden Boat - Kittery Trading Post -

Let’s Keep the Trail Wild. Your donation to the 2015 Stewardship Fund provides critical support to hundreds of MITA volunteers who remove trash from islands, monitor conditions at Trail sites, return lost fishing gear, manage invasive species and promote Leave No Trace ethics to island explorers. You can bolster this essential work by making your donation today: • Online: • By mail: MITA 58 Fore Street, 30-3 Portland, ME 04101 • By phone: (207) 761-8225

Thank you. photo credit: Daniel E. Smith,




58 FORE STREET, SUITE 30-3 PORTLAND, MAINE 04101 207.761.8225 MITA.ORG

Summer 2015  

Paddling with a purpose and celebrating stewardship.

Summer 2015  

Paddling with a purpose and celebrating stewardship.