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How do we do advocacy?

Photograph by Kevin Morris

Our advocacy is always focused on the health of Casco Bay. We pursue policies, laws and limits that are based on sound science.

We prefer to collaborate with community members, local businesses, and decision makers, to find solutions which are both environmentally sound and economically viable. We understand that real change often occurs incrementally, one step at a time. To foster this collaborative approach, we help convene collaborations to work on an issue—and we are invited to collaborations convened by others.

We are fortunate to live in a place where so many people care and are willing to work together. We describe ourselves as the “eyes and ears of the Bay.” With the extreme positions that people are staking out these days, listening often seems to be a forgotten art. Hearing what others have to say about protecting the health of Casco Bay is a key part of our work.

Our advocacy positions are data-driven and based on science. Much of the data we use has been gathered by our expert staff and our dedicated volunteers. Our water quality monitoring has enabled the State of Maine to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to reclassify parts of Casco Bay to higher water quality designations, setting tougher controls on future discharges. More recently, our data has been used to require nitrogen testing and where necessary, reducing nitrogen loads in wastewater discharge permits.

Our advocacy efforts take place in many forums—from town halls to the halls of the State House, to Washington, D.C. Sometimes, we can protect the health of the Bay using education, convincing one homeowner or business at a time to change their practices. Other times, especially with regional or more complex problems, we advocate for the enforcement of existing laws and for the creation of new laws.

Laws

At the state and federal level, we advocate for good legislation and against bad laws that affect Casco Bay. While community engagement and collaboration are important strategies we rely on, sometimes the force of law is required to protect the health of the Bay. We work to remain a credible source of information for decision makers in Augusta and Washington, D.C., as well as locally.

Ordinances

Maine is proud of its heritage of home rule, which means municipalities can pass laws that are more protective of public health than existing state and federal laws. Much of our work is done within individual communities, collaborating with municipal officials and citizens groups to enact ordinances at the town level to provide local solutions to a broad range of environmental issues. For example, ordinances we supported to reduce the use of plastics and polystyrene in Portland and ordinances to restrict pesticide use in South Portland and Portland, have become models for surrounding communities.

Learn more about our advocacy efforts.

 

Our Staff, Board & Volunteers are advocates, too

While Ivy Frignoca has the title of Baykeeper, all of our staff and volunteers work to protect Casco Bay through our Baykeeping Program. We are the voice of the Bay before the Legislature, during public hearings and regulatory processes, with the scientific community, and in educational venues across the region. What we say is based on data we have collected over the past quarter-century and the changes we are observing.

Friends of Casco Bay’s professional staff is engaged in our Baykeeping Program, from advocacy and research, to community engagement, and hands-on pollution prevention.

Our Board of Directors and other Volunteers round out the “neighborhood watch” concept for Casco Bay. We count our many Volunteers among our closest circle of Friends. Through our Water Reporter project, Volunteers are helping us record what is happening around our beautiful but changing Bay—the good, the bad, and the ugly. A cadre of dedicated volunteers assist us with water quality monitoring projects, coastal cleanups, storm drain stenciling, assistance with presentations and events, and advocating for the Bay. 

We ask the community to weigh in on issues

We do not speak for the Bay alone. We rely on you to advocate for the Bay, too! Whether it is writing a letter to a legislator, talking to your neighbor about fertilizers or making changes in your own daily life, the success of our work and the Bay’s health depend on you.

Be an Advocate for Casco Bay

In order to help our closest Friends speak for the Bay, we provide trainings and workshops on issues that Friends of Casco Bay is addressing, providing talking points and background information to enable people to converse skillfully with neighbors, friends, and elected officials about issues impacting the environmental health of the Bay. These workshops feature our Bay Papers—short primers on issues facing the Bay—which have suggestions for conversation starters to engage listeners, a brief overview of a threat, information on what Friends of Casco Bay is doing to confront the issue, and what individuals can do to help address the problem.