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Who we are

Our founders chose the name FRIENDS of Casco Bay with purposeful intent. Friends of Casco Bay is a community of people who care about this special place.

Our mission is to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Concerned citizens formed Friends of Casco Bay/Casco Baykeeper® in 1989, after a report identified our waters as one of the most polluted regions in the nation. One of our first efforts was to launch a Water Quality Monitoring Program to assess the health of the Bay. Informed by the scientific data that our staff and volunteers collect, our Baykeeping Program advocates for solutions to problems threatening our waters. Our other programs include the Casco Bay Curriculum—designed to help teachers bring the Bay into the classroom, our BayScaping Program—to reduce the amount of lawn care chemicals flowing into our waters, our vessel Pumpout Service—to help boaters be better stewards of our environment, and numerous volunteer projects. We are a founding member of Waterkeeper® Alliance. 

Our ocean-going boats, our water testing kits, and our scientific data may set us apart from other environmental groups, but the strength of our organization is in our people. We are a community of over 2,400 members and 310 dedicated Volunteers, led by 23 Board Members and the expertise of 9 Staff, working to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay.

Get to know us. . . .

Our Board of Directors

Photograph by Kevin Morris

 

Our Volunteers 

Our Supporters

Photograph by Kevin Morris

Our Staff

Photograph by Kevin Morris

Our Work

We work to keep Casco Bay blue through monitoring the health of the Bay, inspiring residents and businesses to take care of our coastal waters, supporting efforts to reduce pollution, and advocating for strong protections for the Bay. Friends of Casco Bay works to defend the Bay on many fronts: stormwater and sewage overflow remediation, addressing nitrogen pollution, shining the spotlight on coastal acidification, supporting oil spill preparedness, keeping pollution and pesticides out of the Bay, and responding to emerging issues as they arise. You can read more about our work here.

How we work

We are science based

Understanding the science of stewardship is the foundation of Friends of Casco Bay’s credibility. We use scientific data—much of it collected by our staff and our volunteers—to help change practices, policies, and attitudes.

We use our Research Vessel Joseph E. Payne and our other boats to help us collect water quality data, from the ocean floor to the surface of the Bay. We train volunteers to be citizen scientists to help us collect data. We depend on our Continuous Monitoring Station to collect hourly data on the health of the Bay.

We often assist other scientists in their work—surveying essential marine habitats such as eelgrass, identifying sensitive areas vulnerable in the event of an oil spill, and monitoring currents and tidal circulation.

We are on the water

Friends of Casco Bay Water Quality Sampling on the Baykeeper Boat.
Photograph by Kevin Morris

Being on the water is fundamental to our mission and our approach. We maintain a small fleet of vessels to help us in our work.

Our boats are vital to our science efforts. Our Baykeeper boat, the Research Vessel Joseph E. Payne, is outfitted to assist us in collecting water quality data, from the sea bottom to the surface of the Bay. The boat is designed to safely and quickly navigate a 75-mile route around the Bay during the short daylight hours of winter and penetrate ice-choked passages should the need arise.

Our Casco Baykeeper program cannot exist without a boat. As a founding member of  Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of more than 400 environmental groups working worldwide, we helped set quality standards to which all Waterkeepers must adhere. A boat is mandatory for every Waterkeeper and must be readily available for advocacy, education, and science. 

Being able to jump into a boat at a moment’s notice can help us make a huge difference in the health of the Bay. When we receive phone calls about fish kills or problematic algal blooms, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Research Associate Mike Doan are quick to jump into our Baykeeper boat to investigate. 

Our boats provide us with a platform to highlight issues we feel merit media attention.  We are able to provide a water’s eye view of problems and opportunities. We escort reporters, film crews, government officials, regulators, other Waterkeepers, and donors around the Bay at any time of year. 

Immediately following the Julie N oil spill—Maine’s largest spill which occurred in 1996—our boats allowed us to respond quickly. We were able to assist with cleanup efforts, alert cleanup crews to oil getting past barriers, and help coordinate cleanup activities with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the oil company responsible for the spill and the cleanup. Our prompt actions on the water helped prevent oil from reaching critical habitats.

We “work with”

We will always come down on the side of what’s best for the Bay, but rather than being adversarial, we prefer to collaborate with community members, local businesses, and decision makers, to find solutions that are both ecologically sound and economically viable.  

We value the working waterfront

Our working waterfronts are fundamental to Casco Bay’s character, heritage, and economy. Many of our partners are engaged in maritime occupations, from piloting Casco Bay ferries to mussel farming to managing wharves along the Portland waterfront. We are an active member of Waterfront Alliance, an organization whose members work to protect, transform, and revitalize our harbor and waterfront.

Working Waterfront
Photograph by Kevin Morris

We are pragmatic

Our “work with” approach embraces incremental progress. For example, for more than 25 years we have been prodding and applauding Portland city officials in their efforts to resolve the problem of raw sewage overflows into Casco Bay.

Seeing many sides of an issue helps us work with a wide variety of stakeholders to try to find common understanding and to work toward solutions that benefit the health of the Bay. Listening to diverse points of view, educating key stakeholders about the science of an issue, eliciting changes in behavior, and changing public policy may require lots of strategy, time, and patience.

Celebrating victories, however small, and sharing credit are of paramount importance. We recognize and celebrate progress, even if it is not always at the pace we might like it to be.

Our Partners

Friends of Casco Bay knows that protecting the Bay is a group effort, so we work closely with scientists, government officials, businesses, residents, and other partners. Read more about the organizations with whom we work closely as we seek to protect Casco Bay.

Milestones

Over the past quarter century, we have had many achievements that have improved and protected the health of Casco Bay. You can see our milestones here.

Honors

We are honored to have received many awards over the years. You can see them here

Support Our Work

If after learning about our work, you would like to support our work, please consider making a donation

News and Press

We know it is important to educate our community about issues that impact Casco Bay. That is why we keep the local media informed of these topics. See recent coverage here

Financials

The organization’s success rely on our financial strength. See more in our financials.

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Cover photo: Photograph by Kevin Morris

Read more about us:

Friend of Casco Bay Award given to local advocates

January 26, 2018

Rick Frantz and Jennifer Fox are part of Portland’s vibrant waterfront scene. They own Andy’s Old Port Pub on Commercial Street, and they take the ferry home each night to Great Diamond Island. Casco Bay is literally their backyard. On January 23, as more than 125 volunteers and supporters of Friends of… Read more

Volunteers do a great service to Casco Bay

January 25, 2018

More than 125 volunteers and supporters of Friends of Casco Bay came to the Volunteer Appreciation Celebration on January 23, to recognize those who give their time to monitor the water quality of the Bay, clean up shorelines, stencil storm drains, participate in community outreach events, and serve on its Board.… Read more

Casco Baykeeper Boat trip

What Do We Mean by “Work With”?

May 30, 2017

Friends of Casco Bay has been described as the “eyes and ears of the Bay.” Hearing what others have to say about protecting the health of Casco Bay is part of our job. With the extreme positions that some people are staking out these days, listening sometimes seems to be a… Read more