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Leave No Trace on Casco Bay

Imagine stepping out of a boat onto a Casco Bay island. What would you hear and see? Perhaps the rhythm of crashing waves, wild roses rustling in the breeze, or a gull crying as it circles overhead.

But would you ever imagine the sight of  food wrappers, derelict fishing gear, abandoned water bottles scattered along the shore, or the sound of plastic crunching underfoot? For Christina Hassett, a Regional Stewardship Manager with the Maine Island Trail Association, this kind of scene can be all too familiar.

“It can be disheartening when you come onto an island, and you’re walking through the shoreline where the grass is tall, and with every step you hear the crunch of plastic,” said Christina. “There are some islands on the coast where it’s that bad.”

At the Maine Island Trail Association, Christina, her colleagues, and volunteers work to maintain and care for the trail’s islands that line Maine’s coast, including those in Casco Bay. Unfortunately, removing plastic and marine debris can be a big part of their job.

“We do a pretty tremendous amount of shoreline cleanup,” shared Christina, “and mostly we’re cleaning up plastic that washes up on the islands.” While marine debris has many sources, Christina noted that some of the debris she has found on Maine islands “clearly flew off someone’s boat.” For boaters, one of the best ways to help address the problem of marine debris is with preventative measures. Taking an extra moment to make sure all of your gear is tied down and secure before heading out on the water makes all the difference. To go the extra mile, boaters can pick-up marine debris found on the water or while exploring the calendar islands and dispose of it on land. Ensuring we boaters leave no trace is just one more way we can all practice habits for a healthy bay.

Leave no trace, nothing over the side
Trash and litter harm the Bay and its ecosystems. 

A wide variety of trash and litter can be found on the shores and in the waters of Casco Bay. Marine debris has many impacts: ensnaring, choking and blocking digestion in marine life; disrupting biological productivity at the base of the coastal food web; and releasing toxins and chemicals into the Bay. The vast majority of marine debris is plastic and not biodegradable and will persist in the water well beyond our lifetimes.

Always secure plastic bags, cans, and other potential litter while out on the water and properly dispose of them on land. Just like hikers on their favorite trails, we boaters on Casco Bay are expected to leave no trace.

To learn more, visit http://www.cascobay.org/boating. Thank you for caring about the health of Casco Bay. And thank you to Maine Island Trail Association for being a partner in our work.


Water Reporter Post of the Month

Volunteer Water Reporters help us keep an eye on the health of the Bay. Each month we share a volunteer’s report that we found compelling, moved our work forward, or highlighted a key issue about Casco Bay. This month, we are sharing a #wildlife observation: volunteer Linda Stimpson’s Water Reporter post of this prehistoric creature – with nine eyes and ten legs – scuttling along the shore of Casco Bay. You can see Linda’s post and read more about the creature here.