Join us on Wednesday, July 20, 5:30-8 p.m. for our We Are Water event where we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act Celebration & hold our Members Annual Meeting.
How might offshore wind impact Maine’s coastal waters? Will offshore wind affect Casco Bay?
We explored these questions and more at Winds of Change: Offshore Wind and Climate Change, A Casco Bay Matters Event. At the event Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca moderated a panel of experts who provided an overview of Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap process and draft initial recommendations for how offshore wind farms might be developed without harming fisheries, wildlife, and the environment.*
Below is a link to a recording of the event for those of you who were unable to join us or would like to revisit the conversation.
Please note: At the live event, we asked the audience for feedback using Zoom polls. The Zoom poll questions and answers are not visible in the recording, though you will hear Ivy and our guests speaking about them.
At Friends, we view climate change as the greatest threat to the health of Casco Bay. To address this threat, we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. At federal, regional, and state levels, energy experts have identified offshore wind as a part of the solution as we shift toward clean, green, renewable energy. Friends of Casco Bay supports Maine’s proposed offshore wind research array so we can study and best understand how such wind farms might be sited and operated with minimal harm to our marine environment. We are also participating in the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap, a state initiative guiding the development of offshore wind. Engaging in this process helps us influence the development of this energy source in ways that better protect Casco Bay, coastal habitats, and the environment.
It is important that the state hears from you in the Roadmap process. For those of you who attended Winds of Change: Offshore Wind and Climate Change, your feedback in the chat and answers to our poll questions have been shared with officials involved in the process. If you did not attend the event or have more feedback to contribute, we urge you to submit comments on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations. Your feedback will be evaluated and used to modify the recommendations. The deadline to submit comments is April 30. After this date there will be additional opportunities to engage with the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap.
Click on the links below to read and comment on the Roadmap’s recommendations:
Environment and Wildlife Recommendations
- Read the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations for environment and wildlife
- Comment on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations for environment and wildlife
- Read the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations for fisheries
- Comment on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations for fisheries
Thank you for joining us to learn about this issue and for using your voice to help improve and protect the health of Casco Bay.
*Draft initial recommendations for the development of offshore wind in Maine are a product of a state initiative called the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap. The Roadmap is informed by an advisory committee that includes renewable energy, fisheries, environment, and wildlife experts. Follow the links above to read and submit comments on the Roadmap’s draft initial recommendations at this stage as they continue to be developed.
Thank you to our guest experts who joined us for this important conversation:
Celina Cunningham, Deputy Director of the Governor’s Energy Office and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Energy Strategy and Markets Working Group
Meredith Mendelson, Deputy Commissioner of Maine Department of Marine Resources and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Fisheries Working Group
Wing Goodale, Senior Science Director at Biodiversity Research Institute and co-chair of Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap’s Environment and Wildlife Working Group
Last week over 165 Friends of the Bay joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Staff Scientist Mike Doan online at our latest Casco Bay Matters Event: What Casco Bay Is Telling Us.
Here is a recording of the event for those of you who were unable to attend or would like to revisit the conversation.
Every year, Ivy and Mike traverse the Bay by land and boat from May through October, collecting water quality samples and speaking with those who live, work, and play on the water. At last week’s Casco Bay Matters event, Ivy and Mike shared their observations from this past field season, what our data are telling us about the health of the Bay, and what we all need to do moving forward to keep Casco Bay blue.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole recording, here are a few clips of key moments you may find interesting:
CLIP #1: In this 90-second clip, Staff Scientist Mike Doan breaks down what he sees in the salinity data (the saltiness of seawater) from our Continuous Monitoring Station in Yarmouth. This year the Bay was particularly salty and Mike has thoughts as to why.
CLIP #2: What does the construction project surrounding Portland’s Back Cove have to do with the health of Casco Bay? In this 2 minute clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca explains how the big construction project that you can see from I295 reduces pollution while accounting for the impacts of climate change.
CLIP #3: In this 90-second clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca explains how Volunteer Water Reporters are informing our advocacy and helping us track changing conditions seen on Casco Bay.
Want to watch the full 60-minute event? Here it is!
Data from our seasonal sampling program and our three Continuous Monitoring Stations can be viewed at cascobay.org/our-work/science/
A View from the Hill: The Bay Rests
Friends of Casco Bay Board President Sandy Marsters recently wrote an ode to the Bay in fall, for his regular column with the Portland Phoenix. “There is calm as the Bay breathes with the tides,” writes Sandy, “great inhales and exhales that roll the stones round onshore, polish the sea glass, break in long whispers along the sand.” You can read Sandy’s full column about the beauty of the Bay in autumn, here.
Last month we celebrated the launch of our new Continuous Monitoring Stations by taking a first look at the data they are collecting in Casco Bay.
Staff Scientist Mike Doan walked us through preliminary data on temperature, salinity, pH, chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide from all three Continuous Monitoring Stations. These detailed data sets reveal similarities and differences in water quality across the Bay and can show the influence of local conditions and weather events. After sharing these new data with us, Mike was joined by Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to discuss how we are using science to fuel our advocacy and protect the health of Casco Bay.
Here is a recording of the event for those of you who were unable to attend or would like to revisit the conversation. If you don’t have time to watch the whole recording, here are a few clips of key moments you may find interesting:
Here’s a video of all three of our Continuous Monitoring Stations splashing down, ready to collect data 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
After our Yarmouth station was launched in 2016, we realized we needed additional stations to fully grasp changing conditions across the Bay. In this 2 minute clip, Mike shares why it is important to have three stations and explains why we located our new stations in Harpswell and Portland Harbor.
In this 7 minute clip, Mike shares preliminary data from all three Continuous Monitoring Stations. While years of data will be required to assess trends and the impacts of climate change, these first three weeks of data highlight the influence of weather events and the variability in conditions across the Bay.
In this 2 minute clip, Ivy concludes our event with her response to a critical question about our Continuous Monitoring Stations: How important are these stations to combating climate change and keeping the Bay healthy?
Data from our three Continuous Monitoring Stations can be viewed at www.cascobay.org/our-work/science/continuous-monitoring-stations/.
We had an inspiring and informative conversation at our latest Casco Bay Matters event, Sea level, storms, and surges, oh my! How Maine’s coasts can be resilient to climate change. Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky from Maine Geological Survey joined Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca to illuminate the latest science on rising seas, and how we can work together to make our coastline and waters resilient to climate change.
Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were unable to attend live or would like to rewatch. Attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer, so we also created a bonus video where we answered them, see below.
If you don’t have time to watch the full event, there are a few key moments you may want to check out. We’ve assembled these three clips into one playlist to make it easy to watch. The playlist is eight minutes long.
In the first clip, Peter shares how rising seas can dramatically increase the frequency and duration of “nuisance” flooding events in Portland and along the shores of Casco Bay. Thee, Peter discusses the historical trends of sea level rise in Portland, dating back to 1912. He points out that over the past 118 years, nearly 50% of the increase in sea level has occurred since 1990. Finally, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares how we can respond to rising seas through adaptable policy informed by science.
Your sea level rise questions answered!
Event attendees asked more questions than we had time to answer . . . until now.
Community Engagement Coordinator Sarah Lyman recently followed up with Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Marine Geologist Peter Slovinsky to answer questions we did have time to address during the event. Including:
- Where can we get good local information about projected sea level rise in our community?
- Can future governors disband Maine’s Climate Council?
- What will it cost us if we don’t begin to adapt to coming changes?
- What are some useful actions we can take to help address climate change and sea level rise?
In this bonus content video, Pete and Ivy mention a number of resources. Here are links to those resources:
- Maine Geological Survey’s Sea Level Rise Viewer
- Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Risk Explorer
- Maine Won’t Wait, Maine Climate Council’s climate action plan
- Friends of Casco Bay’s Water Reporter Guide
We are beginning to see the effects of climate change here in Casco Bay. Anticipating and adapting to the impacts of rising seas and stronger storms will prove critical to protecting the health of our coastal waters. If you are on our email list, we will keep you informed on ways you can help make your voice heard on these issues as state and local decision makers continue to develop climate change policies. Joining our email list is also the best way to stay up to date about future events.
We had a blast hosting Visual Storytelling and Casco Bay: A Conversation with Knack Factory. Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were unable to attend live or would like to rewatch.
What struck us, as we spoke with Alex Steed and Lindsey Heald about Knack Factory’s process for telling stories, is how collaboratively they work together and with their clients. As an organization that values collaboration and community, we are delighted to count them as Friends of the Bay.
Here are two key moments that you may want to check out:
Here is Working With You to Keep Casco Bay Blue, the short documentary Knack Factory made in honor of our 30th anniversary.
Here is a behind-the-scenes montage of the week Knack Factory spent with our staff and volunteers as they filmed our documentary. Consider this 4½-minute clip from the event as a big Thank You to all those who made this documentary possible: Lindsey Heald, Thomas Starkey, and Tadin Brown of Knack Factory, volunteers Tony and Hilary Jessen and Joan Benoit Samuelson, LightHawk and their volunteer pilot Jim Schmidt, and Handy Boat.
If you want to see more of Knack Factory’s work, head over to their website.
Thank you to Knack Factory and TD Bank for making our event a success.
We had a lively and informative What Casco Bay is telling us: a Casco Bay Matters Event as more than 100 Friends joined us for the conversation. Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were not able to attend live or would like to relisten.
If you don’t have time to watch the entire event, here are some key moments that you may want to check out:
In this 3½ minute clip, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares her observations on what the Bay was like during this very strange year.
Staff Scientist Mike Doan shares temperature data from our Continuous Monitoring Station (2½ minutes).
Mike explains how we can get a sense of the productivity of the base of the food chain and offers his thoughts as to why our waters have been so clear this season (3 minutes).
Ivy thanks our volunteer Water Reporters for the many ways they have helped us keep watch on the health of the Bay (2½ minutes).
Ivy reflects on what we must do to confront the impacts of climate change on the Bay (2 ½ minutes).
Last but not least, Cathy, Ivy, and Mike explain how our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund is a game-changer for our work (4 minutes). [We are delighted that we have raised 94% of our $1.5 million goal for the Fund, with the help of many of you. If you have not yet made a contribution to the Fund, help us past the finish line!]
What a special evening we had for Celebrating Water – 30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay: A Film, A Poem, and A Conversation with Gary Lawless on July 27! Thank you to all who joined us for this one-of-a-kind event.
If you missed the event — or if you want to share it with some friends — you can watch the video of the celebration above.
We were delighted that Gulf of Maine Poet Gary Lawless joined us for this special event and took time for our conversation about the environment, art, and inspiration. You can read Gary’s poem, “For Casco Bay, For Us,” below.
It was wonderful to share Knack Factory’s film in honor of our 30th anniversary. You can watch the film here.
Special thanks to Friends of Casco Bay’s own Sara Biron for allowing us to use her paintings in promotion of this event. You can find out more about Sara and her art here.
Cathy spoke about our Climate Change and Casco Bay Fund for Technology, Science, and Community Engagement. You can learn about our plans over the next decade, and make a donation to support the Fund.
Internationally-renowned Gulf of Maine poet Gary Lawless wrote the poem below in honor of Friends of Casco Bay’s 30th Anniversary. Friends of the Bay heard the first (and second!) reading of this poem during our Celebrating Water – 30 Years of Friends of Casco Bay event on July 27, 2020.
For Casco Bay, for Us
By Gary Lawless
rising in the mountains, the water,
finding its way
from granite to the bay
we are water
and we want to flow
flow through our lives
here a forest, here
a town, flowing, down –
here are rocks, falls –
we fall, at the end,
at the mouth
into a larger body,
our body, body of
water, to become
to become more than we are –
where the future flows
into the sea,
and all that you see
we are water
we are patterns in water,
currents, eddies, we
pool and move
on, we flow –
how many rivers flow
into the bay
how many streams
into the rivers
where does the rain go
where does the wind go
bays to the ocean
how much moonlight
touches the water
how many fish
find their way home
we are water
and we want to flow –
in beauty, in light,
in whatever weather
the rocks are singing
as water passes over
it is high tide
and our hearts are full
it is low tide
and we are waiting
we have been waiting for you
for thousands of years
we are water
the water is the bay
the wind is the bay
the fish, the birds, the plants,
we are the bay
what happens to water
happens to us
we are water
and we want to flow, saying
this is our body and
we are home
we rise as water rises
we fall as water falls
we are water
we are the bay
we are water
we are the bay
About Gary Lawless:
Gary, originally from Belfast/Penobscot Bay, is the award-winning author of 21 poetry collections. In addition to sharing his own writings as a bio-regional poet, Gary has long worked to encourage others to bring their voices into the wider community. He has empowered combat veterans, homeless people, immigrants, refugees, adults with disabilities, and prison inmates to write poetry and publish their works. In honor of his poetry and his community work, the Maine Humanities Council awarded Gary the 2017 Constance H. Carlson Public Humanities Prize, the University of Southern Maine has given him an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, and the Emily Harvey Foundation has offered him two residencies in Venice, Italy. He and Beth Leonard opened Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick 40 years ago as a community hub.
Friends of Casco Bay’s Members Annual Meeting
In this 30 second video, Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell invites you to join us to celebrate 30 years of working with you to keep Casco Bay blue!
In honor of this auspicious occasion, we are hosting a couple of online events, and we want you to join us for the first, on Tuesday, June 16. You will hear from our Congressionals, vote our Board of Directors into office, share in our collective successes, and hear about our plans for the decade ahead.
Friends of Casco Bay’s Members Annual Meeting
When: Tuesday, June 16, 5 to 6 pm. While the event will begin at 5 pm, please log on and join us earlier as we gather together online, a little before 5 pm, for a special slideshow celebrating 30 years of protecting the health of Casco Bay.
Where: online using Zoom. Click here to register.
Who should attend: You! Our Annual Meeting is open to the entire community: our members, volunteers, supporters, professional colleagues, and all who love Casco Bay!
Thirty years ago, a small group of concerned citizens formed Friends of Casco Bay after a report identified the Bay as one of the most polluted regions in the nation. Since then, we have used a science-based, community-oriented approach to improve the health of our coastal waters. Our work goes on. And we don’t do this work alone – thank you for your input and support. We look forward to seeing you online on June 16.
We had a lively Casco Bay and the Maine Climate Council: A Casco Bay Matters Event last week! Here is a video of the event, for those of you who were not able to attend live or would like to relisten.
The results of the poll taken during the event reflect which coastal and marine strategies participants thought were the most important for the Climate Council to consider. In addition to the poll, many participants told us that all of the strategies are important to them.
Participants asked so many great questions that Cassy and I could not answer them all during the event. Please see the Q&A section below to see responses to the questions we did not have time to answer online.
If you have ideas or thoughts you would like to share with the Coastal and Marine Working Group of the Maine Climate Council, email me at ifrignoca [at] cascobay [dot] org by Friday, May 8th. I will collate the feedback and pass it on to the Working Group.
You can find a list of the Maine Climate Council’s upcoming public events on the Council’s webpage.
We hope you enjoyed learning about the Maine Climate Council process, the Coastal and Marine Working Group, the Working Group’s draft recommendations, and how these efforts connect to Casco Bay.
If you have feedback on our online presentation itself, please email keeper [at] cascobay [dot] org. We are always looking to improve.
You can make a donation to support our work to improve and protect Casco Bay anytime at cascobay.org/donate.
Thank you for helping us care for Casco Bay. Your interest and enthusiasm truly inspire me.
Friends of Casco Bay
Questions from the event and answers:
Q: What type of monitoring is in place and what additions are planned?
A: This is a terrific and broad question, too large in fact to answer quickly or for me to know precisely all of the monitoring in place coast-wide in Maine.
The Science and Technical Subcommittee of the Maine Climate Council is producing reports that catalogue the state of our knowledge across sectors.
The Coastal and Marine Working Group is recommending monitoring and information exchange strategies to provide as much data as possible to decision makers.
We have included with the draft monitoring strategy example sources of existing data. Some broad examples of categories of coastal and marine data include fisheries landings, ocean chemistry data, nitrogen data, bacteria data, harmful algal blooms data, acreage of salt marsh habitat, and projections of the impacts of sea level rise.
Friends of Casco Bay has been monitoring the health of Casco Bay for 28 years. Researchers and state agencies are considering using our Continuous Monitoring Station as a model for coastal monitoring efforts in other areas of the state. You can read more about our monitoring efforts on our website.
Q: Are you looking at incentives for private owners of coastal marshes or public acquisition of these areas?
A: The Coastal and Marine Working Group is exploring ways to preserve salt marshes, and I will share your question with the ecosystem subcommittee of the Working Group.
Q: How can eelgrass bed “salvation” be worked on. I live at Willard Beach and remember that years ago there was such a bed offshore here.
A: According to recent mapping, Willard Beach still has a dense and extensive eelgrass bed. Eelgrass bed salvation depends on the cause of its demise. If an eelgrass bed is unhealthy or dying because of excess nitrogen entering the marine system due to human causes, we can work on eliminating or reducing the sources of nitrogen. This is not necessarily easy but can be done. If the demise is due to invasive green crab foraging, we face a different challenge. Green crabs have proven very difficult to control.
Q: I’m wondering if there’s been any discussion about sources of carbon from coastal and marine systems and whether/how those could be addressed? I get the impression that this working group focuses mostly on impacts from climate change rather than sources of carbon emissions. That makes a lot of sense, but I still wonder about the marine contributions.
A: Yes, the Coastal and Marine Working Group is tasked with considering sources of carbon from coastal and marine sources. My best understanding is that marine vessels make up a small percentage of total carbon emissions. Nonetheless, we are exploring options, such as port electrification. The Department of Environmental Protection recently updated a report on air emissions from marine vessels. Follow this link to view the report and learn how complicated this topic can be to regulate: https://www.maine.gov/dep/
Q: Can you comment on where the focus is for the working group, blue carbon or emission reductions or some relative amount of ‘all of the above’? My concern with integrating blue carbon sequestration into climate policy is that people use those carbon sinks as a reason to not limit fossil fuel combustion, which is ultimately the only adaptation strategy that will work. Also, warming water temperatures, rising sea levels, etc, make blue carbon sequestration really difficult to quantify (it already is, as you know).
A: This is an astute question. We must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly to achieve the mitigation goals set forth by statute. A lot of Maine’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation sources. The portion of those emissions attributed to marine vessels is fairly small. We are considering mitigation of those sources. The ecosystem subcommittee (of which I am a member) really liked the blue carbon strategy because of the complete suite of mitigation, resilience, and adaptation benefits derived from improving and protecting the health of our marshes and eelgrass beds. I agree that carbon sequestration alone will not solve the problem, and other working groups are developing detailed strategies for transportation, energy, buildings, and more, all designed to reduce our carbon footprint.
Q: How do any of these strategies dovetail with similar GMRI strategies and how they are structured?
A: The Maine Climate Council was created by state law and is an action plan for the state. I cannot answer how the plan may ultimately align with the work of GMRI (Gulf of Maine Research Institute) or others. GMRI is participating in the council, as are many other research and marine organizations around the state, including, for example, Friends of Casco Bay, Island Institute, Downeast Institute, Maine Sea Grant, and Bigelow Labortatory.
Q: Can you comment on the potential benefits to lobster habitat from kelp and other aquaculture?
A: This is outside of my area of expertise. The fisheries and aquaculture subcommittee has experts who are exploring such questions. If you have information to share in this regard or would like me to try to connect you with the appropriate expert, please email me directly.
Q: Do you think there might be a better recognition in the world’s society as to how we should more rapidly approach “catastrophic risk” planning regarding climate change, perhaps as we should have approached the planning for a pandemic?
A: As a world, we are way behind on coordinated action to address the climate crisis. Through the Maine Climate Council, hundreds of researchers, advocates, and policy experts are working to do what we can at the state level. The four year state action plan intends to build upon existing efforts, foster action, and be rooted in sound science. We are heartened that municipalities, such as Portland and South Portland, are adopting plans for mitigating and adapting to climate change. At Friends of Casco Bay, we are advocating for local, regional, and national solutions. It will be up to all of us to work together on many different levels to tackle these issues.
Q: How can we help Friends of Casco Bay?
A: We’re glad you asked! We have many ways you can help. You can make a donation to our work. You can also help keep an eye on the changes happening around the Bay by volunteering as a Water Reporter.
Q: Do the Maine Climate Council and the Working Groups have an email feed to keep up with meetings and document releases?
A: Yes, the Maine Climate Council does. Visit
Q: Is Friends of Casco Bay looking at an electric boat?
A: Although we continue to explore ways to reduce our carbon footprint, we are not looking at an electric boat at present. We chose our inboard diesel Baykeeper boat back in 2012, because it provided a large, safe, efficient, and fast enough platform for us to do our work out on the Bay.
Q: Will Ivy’s slides be available on the Climate Council website?
A: No, however the recording of this event is available here: https://youtu.be/fWxc_hHyt_M