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Coffee with Casco Baykeeper Stormwater video

Coffee with the Casco Baykeeper: Stormwater

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca and Community Organizer Sara Freshley met with folks for an early morning conversation about one of Casco Bay’s largest sources of pollution: stormwater.

Recent weather events are a reminder that stormwater delivers some of the largest loads of pollution into Casco Bay. As stormwater flows over our roads, driveways, parking lots, and buildings, it collects a toxic slurry. Stormwater picks up pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, exhaust and salt from roadways, pathogens from pet waste, and so much more. It carries this toxic mix downstream and ultimately into Casco Bay, causing a host of water quality problems.

Ivy and Sara’s conversation over coffee focuses on the increasing impact stormwater has on Casco Bay and what Friends of Casco Bay is doing to help address this issue (sneak peek: it’s a lot!). They also share upcoming opportunities for you to use your voice to advocate for clean water. More than 110 Friends attended the event along with at least one reporter from the Portland Press Herald.

If you missed the event or want to rewatch it, click here.

 

 

 

 

Our Top 10 Moments of 2023

As this year comes to an end, let’s reflect and celebrate the many ways that we worked together to protect the health of Casco Bay in 2023. Here are our top ten stories of the year:

1) We won a four-year moratorium on new sources of pollution into the lower Presumpscot River. The moratorium prevents the permitting of new industrial or wastewater discharges into the river near where it empties into Casco Bay. As the Presumpscot drains two-thirds of the Casco Bay watershed, this was a big win for our waters. Portland Press Herald wrote an in-depth story on this effort. Our lead advocate, Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca won the Chief Poulin Award for her work on the moratorium. Ivy is shown here receiving the award from Friends of the Presumpscot River board member, Will Plumley.

2) More than 100 of our volunteer Water Reporters deepened their knowledge about Casco Bay. Volunteer Water Reporters attended a wide array of meet-ups and trainings all around the Bay this year. Water Reporters spent time with experts and heard the most up-to-date information about living shorelines, marsh restoration, invasive species, and stormwater pollution.

3) The “Sensor Squad” is moving science forward for Casco Bay and all of Maine’s coastal waters. Good decisions are made using good data. Led, in part, by our Staff Scientist Mike Doan, the Sensor Squad is working to ensure we are using the most accurate climate change and acidification techniques and protocols we can. This work is a part of Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative, a coalition of scientists and marine organizations from the University of New Hampshire to the border of Maine and Canada working to improve climate change data collection. Friends of Casco Bay helps to lead the Collaborative.

4) Passamaquoddy Language Keeper Dwayne Tomah was the featured speaker at our Members Annual Meeting in August. He shared the Passamaquoddy word for ceremony, “olotahkewakon,” noting that our gathering was a ceremony for our mother earth. Dwayne’s refrain throughout the evening was “We are all in this together.” Watch the inspiring talk here.

5) We maintained the strength of the permit that regulates stormwater pollution from large urban communities. You may remember that we celebrated this stricter permit as our top story of 2022. Stormwater is one of the largest sources of pollution into Casco Bay. Since the permit that regulates urban stormwater went into effect in July 2022, we have been working to ensure that it is properly implemented. In November, the Maine Board of Environmental Protection agreed with us that the Maine Department of Environmental Protection must ensure that towns covered by the permit implement low-impact development ordinances that include nine strategies designed to reduce stormwater pollution from new construction and redevelopment.

6) The City of South Portland launched 100 Resilient Yards, providing a grassroots way to bring best practices in yard care directly to neighborhoods around the city. Residents and businesses who took part in the program were given technical and physical assistance to build healthy soils that protect Casco Bay. Experts and volunteers helped residents build rain gardens, grow pollinator gardens, and more. We hope other towns around the Bay look at this program as a model!

7) We organized 15 fun coastal cleanups, including one with the surf rock band Easy Honey and one with the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust. These cleanups gave community members a hands-on way to make a direct difference in the health of our waters by preventing waste and litter from being washed into the Bay.

8) We hired Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley! Over the past 10 months, Sara has become an integral part of our team. She’s helped deepen the knowledge of our Water Reporters, organized storm drain stenciling and coastal cleanups, and worked to expand our outreach efforts.

Pile of expired flares9) We helped organize an expired flare collection event in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Casco Bay and the Maine State Fire Marshall. The event was a great success, collecting 1,945 expired marine flares. Marine flares are pyrotechnic devices that boaters can use as a distress signal in emergencies. They burn at high temperatures, posing a serious fire hazard for long-term storage. Flares also contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate water and soil. Due to these hazardous qualities, it is illegal to throw flares in the trash, and ill-advised to store them at home.

Scenic Category Winner 1st Place, Student Category Winner, Best of Show, by Ava McKinley

10) We got in touch with our artistic side! Our online event, Water as Inspiration, brought together three regional artists to draw the connections between creativity, the environment, and climate change. We had dozens of submissions to “Frame the Bay,” our first-ever photo contest at our Members Annual Meeting. And we shared the stage with filmmaker Maximillian Armstrong at our Film Fest for Casco Bay.

As YOU know, Casco Bay is an inspiration! Thank you for helping us protect this amazing place and for being a Friend of Casco Bay.

Water Reporters Deepen Their Knowledge of Casco Bay

What are some techniques for observing the natural world around me more mindfully? How can you tell if a saltwater marsh is healthy or if it is eroding at an unnatural pace? What are some commonly overlooked invasive species that are affecting Casco Bay? How is nitrogen pollution linked to the growth of large nuisance algal blooms?

This summer and fall, Friends of Casco Bay’s volunteer Water Reporters found out the answers to these questions and more as we hosted a wide array of meet-ups and trainings all around the Bay. More than 100 volunteers attended these special events. Water Reporters spent time with experts and heard the most up- to-date information about living shorelines, marsh restoration, invasive species, and stormwater pollution.

“I am very grateful to Friends of Casco Bay for the wonderful learning opportunities they provide to me as a Water Reporter,” says volunteer Catherine Tarpy. “The events are free and give us a top-quality education about the current status and future of Casco Bay. One more thing, they’re so much fun!”

Volunteer Water Reporters take photos and observations of pollution, climate change, and ecological problems that are impacting Casco Bay. Volunteers also share observations of good news, such as rare wildlife sightings. Our staff receives notices of the posts, including latitude and longitude. Friends of Casco Bay staff then follow up with every post, which sometimes involves visiting the site of the post to further investigate.

“Our volunteer Water Reporters are on the front lines of climate change,” shared Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley. “They are tracking changes they are seeing and helping us be the eyes of the Bay. We are working to give these volunteers the opportunity to learn more about the biggest threats to our coastal waters and to deepen their knowledge of the Bay.”

Sara organized six Water Reporter training events from June through September. She also happens to be our newest staff member.

“We are excited to have Sara aboard,” said Executive Director Will Everitt. “We created her position to double-down on the idea that it takes a community to take care of the health of Casco Bay. Sara has jumped into the work with both feet!”

Although cold weather is beginning, our Water Reporter events will continue as our volunteers post their observations year-round. Friends of Casco Bay will host online events this winter.

You can learn more about our Water Reporter program by visiting cascobay.org/water-reporter. And if you haven’t had the chance to meet Sara or volunteer yet, you can reach out to her by sending an email to sfreshley [at] cascobay [dot] org.

Thank you to Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, L.L.Bean, Allagash Brewing Company, Ferris Olson Family Foundation for Ocean Stewardship, WEX, and our members for their support of our Water Reporter program.

Volunteer Water Reporters joined Friends of Casco Bay at six meetup and training events so far this year, including a season kickoff event, a salt marsh training, an invasive species training,a mindful observation event, and a stormwater training. Invasive training photo by Perry Flowers.

Ever-Changing Casco Bay

Casco Bay is everchanging. The Bay changes with each tide, each day, and each season. And now, because of climate change, our coastal waters are transforming in different ways and faster than we thought possible.

At our EverChanging Casco Bay event on November 28, Staff Scientist Mike Doan dove into the data we use to track the health of the Bay. Community Organizer and Volunteer Coordinator Sara Freshley shared observational data our volunteer Water Reporters posted over the course of the summer. Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca discussed how these scientific and observational data are helping to move the needle for a cleaner, more protected Casco Bay.

 

If you missed the event or want to rewatch it, click here. If you don’t have time to watch the whole event, you can click here to hear Mike delve into the datahere for Sara talking about Water Reporters, and here to listen to Ivy describe the big picture.

More than 60 Friends attended the event along with members of the media. The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday TelegramMaine PublicBangor Daily News, and WGME covered the event and the issues we discussed.

A Grassroots movement in South Portland is a model for the Bay

City of South Portland’s 100 Resilient Yards program is helping residents protect Casco Bay by growing sustainable yards and gardens.

If you drive around South Portland these days, you may have noticed yard signs that read “100 Resilient Yards, Revitalizing South Portland One Yard At A Time.”

The residents and businesses who are proudly posting these signs took part in a forward-looking program that provided hands-on assistance to build healthy soils that protect Casco Bay. City of South Portland staff, experts, and volunteers helped those in the program grow resilient landscapes, including vegetable gardens, rain gardens, native plantings and pollinator gardens, and organic lawns.

The City of South Portland restricted the use of pesticides in 2016 and limited the use of synthetic fertilizers in 2020. To help residents comply with these ordinances, Julie Rosenbach, South Portland’s Sustainability Director, conducted outreach and education throughout the pandemic. By 2021, recognizing that everyone was weary of workshops and Zoom meetings, Julie struck on a “grassroots” plan to bring best practices in yard care directly to neighborhoods.

The 100 Resilient Yards program was born.

When South Portland opened applications last spring, 430 people applied for the 100 slots. After site visits in May and June by organic landscaping professionals, 100 yards were selected. 89 people ultimately completed the pilot project.

Julie Rosenbach was delighted with the enthusiasm from the community. “People want to transition their yards to healthy, organic landscapes. They just need help getting started. With this program, we were able to help in spades.”

Friends of Casco Bay Executive Director Will Everitt is pleased that a lot of those yards belong to Friends of the Bay. After all, it was Friends of Casco Bay’s BayScaping campaign, launched 20 years ago, that began to persuade residents and community leaders to rethink their use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Each participant in South Portland’s 100 Resilient Yards program received help to create a Bay-friendly landscape. Julie assembled teams of landscaping and gardening advisors and recruited two dozen volunteers to help homeowners. The recipients got material resources such as raised beds, seeds or starter plants, mulch, compost, native plants — and even apple trees on 26 sites. It was truly a hands-on effort. Julie recalls how she and volunteers hauled 456 bags of mulch to nearly 50 sites around the City.

Emily Rothman, a Friends of Casco Bay member who lives in Ferry Village, requested a vegetable garden. She met with a technical advisor who helped her mark out a suitable site. “While we were out, they delivered a raised bed and filled it with soil!” Emily used a coupon provided by 100 Resilient Yards to pick out young plants at a farm in Cape Elizabeth. Her five-year-old helps harvest their chard, kale, and lettuce. Her two-year-old loves to play in the soil in a corner of the garden reserved for digging.

Emily says, “I learned about things I should and shouldn’t do so close to the ocean. I love it when people come by and ask questions about the garden. It helps us feel like we are doing our part and that we have an investment in the South Portland community.”

Elizabeth Ross Holstrom, another Friend of the Bay, opted to put in a native flower garden. “As a 30-year resident of South Portland, who recently downsized to a small house with no backyard garden, I was thrilled to be selected for the South Portland 100 Resilient Yards initiative.”

Her backyard was completely gravel before the beds were installed. “I worked with several team members, from the initial photos and soil testing, and plan for a native flower bed. Mine was one of the last gardens because of the prep work needed before planting could be done. Lia Farnham and Brett at Sophia Garden Design were both super helpful in keeping things on track. It turned out lovely. I am excited to see everything come up next spring. With the plants they selected, the entire bed will be colorful, multi-tiered, and self-contained. The trimmings each fall will serve as mulch for the winter.”

“The City of South Portland’s 100 Resilient Yards program has gone beyond education to help residents grow green lawns and gardens that help keep Casco Bay blue,” says Will. “We hope other towns around the Bay look at this as a model for how municipal officials, master gardeners, residents, and businesses can all work together to build soil health and protect our coastal waters from nitrogen pollution and toxic lawncare chemicals.”

Julie Rosenbach notes, “Indeed, I’ve already had interest from other communities who would like to replicate the program.”

The roots of South Portland’s effort are directly linked to the work Friends of Casco Bay has done over the years. Our stormwater and water quality sampling demonstrated that lawncare pesticides and fertilizers threaten the health of the Bay. Pesticides are toxic by design. The excess nitrogen from fertilizers could trigger nuisance algal blooms and deplete oxygen levels in the water, degrading the health of our coastal waters.

Over the years, through our BayScaping efforts, Friends of Casco Bay encouraged residents to grow lawns without using harmful chemicals. By sharing our data on pesticides and nitrogen sampling, educating city councilors about the risks of lawn chemicals, and serving on citizen task forces, we helped municipalities, including South Portland, adopt ordinances to limit lawn chemicals.

Partners on the 100 Resilient Yards project include Friends of Casco Bay, Maine Audubon, Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District, Osborne Organics, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Wild Seed Project, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and Garbage to Garden.

You can read more about 100 Resilient Yards by clicking here. You can find tips on chemical free lawns on Friends of Casco Bay’s website.

Many thanks to Mary Cerullo for writing this article for Friends of Casco Bay and to the City of South Portland for providing photos.

How we are moving science forward

Sensor Squad Moves Science Forward

We rely on scientific data on the health of Casco Bay to inform our advocacy and stewardship efforts.

Good decisions are made using good data. That’s the idea behind the Maine Ocean Climate Collaborative.

“The Collaborative is made up of some of the best saltwater scientists in Maine,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “By sharing research and knowledge of climate change science, water quality monitoring issues, and ocean climate policies, we can better protect all of our coastal waters.”

Ivy coordinates the Collaborative, which includes Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science, Bowdoin College, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Downeast Institute, Friends of Casco Bay, Governor’s Office of Policy, Innovation, and the Future, Island Institute, Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, University of New Hampshire’s Ocean Processes Analysis Laboratory (OPAL), and Wells  National Estuarine Research Reserve (Wells Reserve).

Staff Scientist Mike Doan (left photo) and Science and Advocacy Associate Heather Kenyon (right photo) are working with colleagues up and down Maine’s coast to improve our collective knowledge of how acidification and climate change may be affecting our waters.

A key part of the Collaborative’s current work is to develop a report of recommended equipment, sampling techniques, and quality assurance protocols to serve as a guide for researchers, agencies, and institutions up and down Maine’s coast to better monitor climate change and acidification. For this effort, Friends of Casco Bay Staff Scientist Mike Doan is working closely with colleagues from OPAL and Wells Reserve.

“We call ourselves the ‘Sensor Squad,’” says Mike. “Staff from Wells Reserve and Friends of Casco Bay are testing equipment and protocols in real-world conditions and comparing our data to OPAL’s gold standard. The goal is to ensure we are getting the most accurate climate change and acidification data we can. As the science evolves, we have to evolve, too.”

While the “Sensor Squad” may not look like superheroes, by working together, the scientists are helping improve Maine’s understanding of climate change.

“While our mission is all about Casco Bay, we recognize that climate change doesn’t stop at the watershed’s border,” says Executive Director Will Everitt. “The State of Maine can use our work as a model for what a statewide monitoring program can look like. When state agencies who are tasked with managing and protecting our marine ecosystems have better data, ultimately that helps Casco Bay and all of our coastal waters.”

Thank you for making Film Fest for Casco Bay a success!

Thanks to the many volunteers that made Film Fest for Casco Bay possible.

Last Saturday’s Film Fest for Casco Bay was our most well-attended event of the year. As Executive Director Will Everitt said at the event, “This afternoon is about community.” We were able to share an afternoon with more than 350 Friends watching enlightening films, enjoying local food, and connecting with our mission to protect the health of Casco Bay. We were honored to share the stage with filmmaker Maximilian Armstrong, who joined us as our special guest at the event. Max created Seeds of Change, a film about an organic farmer in Maine who sets out to transform the prison food system. The film was an audience favorite.

Film Fest for Casco Bay was also our biggest fundraiser of the year. We send a special thank you to our Show Sponsors, including 98.9 WCLZ, TD Bank, Ocean Navigator, Custom Float Service, Dufour Tax Group, Martin’s Point Health Care, Portland Yacht Services/Portland Ship Yard, and Woodin & Company Store Fixtures, Inc. We appreciate all of our sponsors—you can see the complete list below.

There are so many people to thank for making this year’s Film Fest a success. Thank you to our volunteers for helping us host the event. Thank you to our raffle prize donors (see below). Thank you to the donors who helped us meet our $1,000 matching challenge at the event. And thank you to all the Friends who attended the event.

The Film Fest was extra delicious this year thanks to our food partners. Alga shared their fresh Casco Bay Seaweed Dip alongside Freeport Oyster Bar as they shucked oysters fresh from the Bay. We appreciate our longtime food and drink donations including: Oakhurst drinks, Cabot cheese, and Hansel’s Orchard Apples.

We are grateful to have Maine Outdoor Film Festival as our curating partner for this event. MOFF selected the 12 incredible films we showed at Film Fest for Casco Bay. If you are interested in seeing more of their films join MOFF for a special one-night only screening of Snow Day Dreams, an independent short film program that explores the dynamic cold weather living of Maine and beyond through 7 different stories at the State Theatre on December 14. This is an all-ages friendly event. Tickets are $10-20. For more  information or specifics on the upcoming  film programming please visit https://maineoutdoorfilmfestival.com/2023-snow-day-dreams/

Thank you to our raffle donors:
A&C Soda Shop ⋅ Black Point Surf Shop ⋅ Browne Trading Company ⋅ Kirsten and Charles Piacentini ⋅ Chase Leavitt Marine ⋅ Deborah Dawson ⋅ Edgecomb Potters ⋅ Eventide Oyster Co. ⋅ Gelato Fiasco ⋅ Go Go Refill ⋅ Hyperlite Mountain Gear ⋅ JoAnn Dowe ⋅ LeRoux Kitchen ⋅ Letterpress Books ⋅ Loyal Citizen Clothing ⋅ Malcolm F. Poole ⋅ Mexicali Blues ⋅ Ocean Navigator ⋅ Old Port Candy Co. ⋅ Portland Schooner Company ⋅ Portland Water District ⋅ Pretty Flours ⋅ Rocky Coast Cheesecake ⋅ Rosie’s ⋅ Sea Bags ⋅ Sebastian Milardo ⋅ Sherman’s Books ⋅ Skillin’s Greenhouses ⋅ The Cheese Shop of Portland ⋅ Thompson’s Point / Northern Hospitality ⋅ Toad&Co ⋅ Wildwood

Thank you to our sponsors:

Custom Float Service

Dufour Tax Group

Martin’s Point Health Care

Portland Yacht Services/Portland Ship Yard

Woodin & Company Store Fixtures, Inc.

Brunswick Dental Health Associates

Coastal Pharmacy & Wellness

David Wood Clothier

LT’s inc.

Oakhurst Dairy

Wipfli LLP

Bath Savings Institution

Cabot Creamery Cooperative

Dale Rand Printing

Delta Dental

Maine Conservation Alliance / Maine Conservation Voters

Maine Yacht Center

Sevee & Maher Engineers, Inc.

Water Resource Protection, City of South Portland

Yarmouth Boat Yard

Dr. Chris Green LLC

Film Fest for Casco Bay

November 4, 2023, 2-6 p.m. 

University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Auditorium, Portland

We hope to see you at our Film Fest for Casco Bay, an afternoon of movies curated by Maine Outdoor Film Festival. The event will feature a twelve environmental and adventure films curated just for us. You won’t want to miss it!


We will be screening a variety of great environmental films that inspire wonder, make us laugh, and instill hope for the future. All films are suitable for ages ten and above. 

New this year: 

  • filmmaker Maximilian Armstrong join us as our special guest at the event. Max created Seeds of Change, a film about an organic farmer in Maine who sets out to transform the prison food system. Max will share more about the film at Film Fest for Casco Bay. 
  • Oysters! Our friends at Freeport Oyster Bar will be shucking Casco Bay oysters
  • Casco Bay Seaweed Dip from Alga Maine The Seaweed Dip is a delicious, fresh seaweed product created especially for this event by Tollef Olson, a long-time Friends of Casco Bay supporter.

You’ll also get to enjoy Oakhurst drinks, Cabot cheese, crackers, Hansel’s Orchard Apples, and the popcorn we have always offered for free as part of the event.

We will also host a raffle for prizes such as local hand crafted goods, gift cards to local shops and eateries, art, Friends of Casco Bay hats and jackets, and even private boat cruises on Casco Bay!

What: Film Fest for Casco Bay
Advance ticket sales for the in-person event will close on Friday 11/3 at 10 a.m. We will have tickets available for sale at the door the day of the event for $35. 

When: Saturday, November 4, 3-6:10 p.m. (doors open at 2 p.m.)

Where: University of Southern Maine’s Abromson Center, 88 Bedford Street, Portland

This year’s event will feature these twelve films:

THE FEEDING FRENZY – 7 minutes – by Roger Scott McCord – from Maine – Short synopsis: A brood of five Phoebe hatchlings is obsessed from nest to first flight.

BOTTOM TURN – 8 minutes – by Luis Bauer – from Germany – Short synopsis: Bottom Turn is a short surf film shot on location in Bali and Lombok, Indonesia between August and September 2022. Jake illiterates how his life has looked with, and without, a strong relationship with his passion.

ELEVATED – 15 minutes – by Palmer Morse – from California – Short synopsis: Effective communication is a challenge every climber faces. It’s a sport that requires intense focus, dedication, and overcoming fear. For Deaf climber Sonya Wilson, communication and community is of vital importance. Elevated is a non-verbal film sharing Sonya’s experience as a Deaf woman and outdoor advocate working to bridge the gap between the Deaf community and the outdoor industry, one crag at a time.

THE BEAR COAST – 17 minutes – by Andrew Ackerman – from CO – Short synopsis: Despite the number of protected wildlife areas along Alaska’s Bear Coast, the fractured, disconnected landscape of the national and state park systems exposes brown bears to many threats. This short, informative documentary centers multifocal storytelling with a local, diverse cast of characters to provide a nuanced account of contentious environmental issues that have real, lived impacts for Alaska Peninsula residents and bear populations alike.

SEEDS OF CHANGE – 27 minutes – by Maximilian Armstrong – from Maine – Short synopsis: An organic Farmer in Maine sets out to transform the prison food system. Seeds of Change captures the intersecting stories of life-long farmer, Mark McBrine, and several incarcerated men as they harvest their own meals from a five-acre prison garden unlike any other.

GUIDED BY THE MOON – 3 minutes – by Michael Mitchell – from Massachusetts – Short synopsis: Guided By The Moon is a non-narrative film showcasing the Algonquin-speaking peoples’ various names for full moons through creative transitions, honoring the memory of indigenous communities’ traditions.

FROZEN HARVEST – 3 minutes – by Mark Fleming – from Maine – Short synopsis: For centuries, the people of Maine have upheld the tradition of ice harvesting. Our team had the opportunity to join volunteers at the Thompson Ice House and witness firsthand this once-thriving industry’s remarkable but vulnerable legacy. One of the few remaining ice harvests in the world, the ice house in South Bristol offers a poignant reminder of the profound impact of global warming.

WOOD HOOD – 16 minutes – by Alexander Cullen – from New York – Short synopsis: DeVaughn is a 15-year-old kid from New York City who loves skateboarding and craves a “quiet place” to escape the chaos of his home, the city, and kids that steal from him. The film follows DeVaughn on a weekend-long group camping trip with Camping to Connect, a BIPOC-led mentorship program that teaches leadership, brotherhood, and inclusion in the outdoors, a space that is unfamiliar and historically inaccessible to these kids.

THE RHYTHM OF ONE – 18 minutes – by Laurel Myers – from Colorado – Short synopsis: The world of mountain unicycling is not so different from those of skiing, climbing, or other adventure sports, yet you’ve probably never heard of it. ‘The Rhythm of One’ is a portrait of Canadian rider Ryan Kremsater and the evolution of his riding as he strives to push the envelope of this niche sport.

WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR GOAT – 6 minutes – by Jack Lewis Elder – from Colorado – Short synopsis: Nico is a woman in her late 20s who lives in her sprinter van with 2 goats, 3 chickens and a dog. In this quirky 6 minute film you’ll spend a day with Nico goat-packing a raft up to a high mountain lake. We take a dive into her lifestyle, the goats’ personalities, and Nico’s deeper mission to use her unique lifestyle for sustainability education.

FASCINATING MAINE FUNGI – 13 minutes – by Breanna Penney – from Maine – Short synopsis: North Spore founder Eliah Thanhauser teams up with TikTok influencer, mushroom ASMR enthusiast, and PhD Biochemist and Molecular Biologist Dr. Gordon Walker (aka Fascinated by Fungi) for a visually stunning mushroom foray off the coast of Maine.

CHICAS AL AGUA – 18 minutes – by Liz McGregor – from Maine – Short synopsis: You can count the number of female paddlers in Futaleuf, Chile on one hand… and they want to change that. After many riverside matés and floating conversations, the idea to create a kayak course for local teenage girls was hatched. Thanks to a committed group of women from around the globe, what started as a dream is now an inspirational contribution to the local community.

A Ceremony for Casco Bay and Mother Earth

Olotahkewakon.”

As more than 115 Friends of the Bay heard at We Are Water — Friends of Casco Bay’s Members Annual Meeting, “olotahkewakon” is the Passamaquoddy word for “ceremony.” Passamaquoddy Language Keeper Dwayne Tomah shared this word in his tribe’s native tongue noting that all of us coming together was a ceremony for our mother earth.

The tribes in Maine were the original stewards of this land and of Casco Bay, beginning more than 12,000 years ago, and today, although there are no official tribal lands on the shores of Casco Bay, Wabanaki people still live within the watershed. Passamaquoddy means “the people who spear pollock.” An important part of Passamaquoddy culture is protecting our air, land, and waters. It is in partnership to those values that we remain honored to have hosted Dwayne, who lives Downeast on Passamaquoddy Bay, as our featured speaker at the event. 

Dwayne’s refrain throughout the evening was “We are all in this together.” The Annual Meeting was attended by local residents, dozens of our volunteers, current and former State Representatives from towns around Casco Bay, federal officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, staff from Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and colleagues from partner organizations, all of whom are working together to improve and protect the health of Casco Bay. As Dwayne said, “We are all in the same canoe, we just didn’t know it.” 

You can listen to Dwayne talk by clicking play on the video below. As caveat, due to the tent we were under and the setting sun, the video quality is low, but we hope you find Dwayne’s talk as inspiring as we did. 

Passamaquoddy Language Keeper Dwayne Tomah

Until recently, Dwayne was the youngest fluent speaker of the Passamaquoddy language. He has dedicated his life to teaching Passamaquoddy language and culture to tribal members. As the Passamaquoddy Language Keeper, Dwayne has been an ambassador, using native words to teach others about his people’s culture while helping us all connect, heal, and learn together. 

His efforts have been vital to keeping the Passamaquoddy language alive. Beginning in the 1600s, European colonizers began taking tribal lands and attempted to extinguish tribal cultures. In the 1800s, Federal policies forced tribes to assimilate into white, christian culture by requiring children be taken from their community and put into boarding schools, among many other egregious acts. Through this process, much of the Passamaquoddy language was lost. 

However, in 1890, the heart of this forced assimilation era, many Passamaquoddy tribal members recorded stories, songs, facts, and conversations on wax cylinders borrowed from Thomas Edison. This was the first field recording of people telling stories and singing ever! 

Although these wax cylinders were owned by the Harvard Peabody museum, they were returned to the tribes in 1980. Dwayne Tomah and others have spent hours meticulously listening to and learning from these recordings, which has resulted in revived energy and pride in Passamaquoddy culture and sovereignty. As one tribal member stated about this project, “it isn’t just language preservation or cultural preservation, it’s people preservation.” Dwayne has been at the heart of this preservation effort.

Frame the Bay

At the Annual Meeting, we announced the winners of “Frame the Bay,” our inaugural photo contest. More than 60 photos were submitted to the contest, which asked Friends to share their favorite photos taken of, near, or on Casco Bay. Participants could submit up to five photos. The judges included internationally recognized sports photographer Kevin Morris, Lindsay Heald, a visual artist, photographer, and producer from Maine, and Board President Sandy Marsters, who has a background in photojournalism.

Scenic Category Winner 1st Place, Student Category Winner, Best of Show wooden posts: Portland Maine, April 2023 by Ava McKinley
Scenic Category 2nd Place Photographer: Timothy R. Brokaw
Scenic Category 3rd Place Photographer: John Bald
Working Waterfront Category Winner 1st Place Photographer: Glenn Michaels
Working Waterfront Category 2nd Place Photographer: Glenn Michaels
Working Waterfront Category 3rd Place Photographer: Adam Mistler
Wildlife Category Winner 1st Place Photographer: Stephen Hobson
Wildlife Category 2nd Place Photographer: Stacey Keefer
Wildlife Category 3rd Place Photographer: Stacey Keefer
Recreation Category Winner 1st Place Photographer: Heidi Holloway
Recreation Category 2nd Place Photographer: Glenn Michaels
Recreation Category 3rd Place Photographer: Bill Brokaw

Our winners in the recreation category were:
First Place: Heidi Holloway
Second Place: Glenn Michaels
Third Place: Bill Brokaw

Our winners in the wildlife category were:
First place: Stephen Hobson
Second Place: Stacey Keefer
Third Place: Stacey Keefer

Our winners in the Working Waterfront category were:
First Place: Glenn Michaels
Second Place: Glenn Michaels
Third place: Adam Mistler

Our winners in the scenic category were:
First place: Ava McKinley
Second Place: Timothy R. Brokaw
Third Place: John Bald

Ava was also our first place student photographer winner and her scenic photo won Best in Show. 

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Casco Bay Award Winner Honorable Jay McCreight

As the State Representative for Harpswell for eight years, Joyce “Jay” McCreight has gone above and beyond for Casco Bay. Executive Director Will Everitt presented her with our Casco Bay Award. As he shared, “Over the course of her legislative career, Jay has been a true Clean Water Hero.” Her achievements include:

  • Passing a bill to set up a process for the disposal of expired marine flares. All seagoing boats are required to have flares in the case of an emergency. These flares expire, remain a fire hazard, and contain toxic chemicals. Until Jay worked on this issue, there has been no safe, ecological, or cost effective way for fishermen and boat owners to dispose of marine flares.
  • Ensuring that the state budget included funds to map eelgrass, a vital habitat known as “the nursery of the sea.”
  • Hosting a forum on water quality in Casco Bay that helped shape recommendations for the Maine Climate Council. 
  • Convening conversations about aquaculture siting.
  • Working hard for fishing families by sponsoring a bill to allow an immediate family member of a lobsterman to fish with their license if the licensee has a serious illness or injury. She introduced this bill after hearing from a lobsterman with cancer who needed his son to keep hauling his traps while he went through treatment.

After eight dauntless years and four rounds of being elected to the statehouse, she was term limited but Jay’s clean water work continues. Jay now serves on Harpswell’s Resiliency and Sustainability Committee and she remains tireless in continuing to help get the flares disposal bill implemented.

Down to Business

Our We Are Water event began with the official business of our Members Annual Meeting. As they looked out at Casco Bay from Spring Point in South Portland, Friends of Casco Bay members unanimously voted Mark Green and Steve Bushey to their second terms on the Board of Directors. We are proud to have their wisdom, experience, and dedication, all in service to our mission to improve and protect the health of the waters we all love. 

Great news for the Presumpscot River and Casco Bay

Presumpscot Falls is a natural haven that many visit for recreation and solace in the middle of Maine’s most densely populated and continuously developing region. The Falls are located in the lower Presumpscot River, which currently has only Class C protections (see our fact sheet linked below for more information).

The largest river that flows into Casco Bay is officially protected from new sources of pollution under Maine law! A four-year moratorium on new industrial or wastewater discharges into the Lower Presumpscot River was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Mills on Friday.

The Lower Presumpscot flows from Saccarappa Falls in downtown Westbrook to head of tide along the Portland-Falmouth border. This section of river was historically heavily polluted by untreated industrial discharges. Today it is a thriving urban waterway thanks to years of restoration efforts under the Clean Water Act. Temporarily preventing new discharges into the river – for example, from a new factory or other industry – will protect the Lower Presumpscot’s substantial gains in water quality while a long-term solution is identified to preserve the river’s health.

“The Presumpscot River drains two-thirds of the Casco Bay watershed,” says Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca. “Flowing from pristine headlands through some of Maine’s most densely populated and diverse neighborhoods, this river is intimately tied to the health of Casco Bay, the wildlife it supports, and the people who live here. Protecting the Lower Presumpscot from new discharges over the next four years will help us figure out how to more permanently protect the health of the river.”

If you were one of the many Friends of the Bay who submitted testimony in favor of the moratorium, thank you. The legislators truly heard the importance of the connection between the health of the river and the Bay, strengthening their support for the moratorium. We are also grateful for our partners at Friends of the Presumpscot River and their leadership on this effort. You are all Friends of Casco Bay!

If you want to learn more about the many reasons we supported the moratorium, check out the fact sheet on our website. In short, we believe this bill supports our region’s growing communities, the local economy, and most importantly, the health of the Presumpscot River and Casco Bay.

If you would like to celebrate this clean water victory, we would love for you to join us in Portland on July 13! Click here to learn more and RSVP.