Casco Baykeeper® Joe Payne received the recognition of his peers at an annual gathering of Waterkeepers recently. They presented him with an award with the simple inscription, “HERO.”
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the international environmental advocacy organization Waterkeeper Alliance, cited Joe’s 20 years as Casco Baykeeper, making him the second-longest-serving Waterkeeper ever. Joe became the 7th Waterkeeper in the world when he was hired by Friends of Casco Bay in 1991; today there are 195 Waterkeepers on 6 continents.
At the conference, the audience of Waterkeepers (136 from around the world), as well as Waterkeeper Alliance board members, staff, and supporters, applauded Joe, not only for his work on behalf of Maine’s coastal waters, but also for helping to found the Alliance and serving on its Board. Joe said, “If there are heroes, it’s our volunteers and supporters, who help to monitor the environmental health of Casco Bay, who do community service projects like beach cleanups and storm drain stenciling, who report pollution incidents as they occur, and who vote to fund cleanup efforts like Portland’s sewage remediation project.”