Cleanup Finding Makes News
A story about our grim discoveries along Portland’s Back Cove in the September 14th Portland Press Herald was picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and generated more news coverage as far away as Boston. It reported on 42 discarded hypodermic needles and syringes found along the high tide line by Friends of Casco Bay volunteers during a coastal cleanup of Back Cove on June 21st. Another cleanup a month later turned up a dozen more in the same area. Peter Milholland, Citizen Stewards Coordinator, who organized the cleanups, was interviewed by environmental reporter John Richardson for the Press Herald and by Maine Public Radio’s “Maine Things Considered.” Friends of Casco Bay’s cleanups were cited in news reports by the three major Portland TV stations and in Boston.com. Friends of Casco Bay members learned about it first in our Fall 2008 Casco Bay Bulletin.
A Tire(less) Friend of Casco Bay
In mid-October, just after this year’s Coastweek Cleanup, Friends of Casco Bay received an email from Brunswick resident Win Robbins. He had watched in dismay as old tires, refrigerators, computer monitors, and other trash were dumped into the salt marsh in Thomas Bay. Disturbed to see the marsh used as a garbage dump, Win decided to clean up the debris. He rigged a rope that he could hang onto as he descended a steep slope to the marsh. One by one, he hauled up 36 tires, some of them huge truck tires with heavy steel rims still attached. After he had neatly stacked the tires by the side of the road, he contacted Brunswick Town Hall and asked them to pick up the tires. They said they were sorry, but they had no budget to dispose of the tires; he would have to pay to have them transported off his property. Moreover, before the town dump would accept the tires, he would have to have the rims taken off at his own expense. At that point, Win recalled, “Enter my heroes. In response to a note to Friends of Casco Bay, Peter Milholland, Citizen Stewards Coordinator, went to bat for me. After being refused help from the town, Peter looked for help elsewhere. Through his efforts, Theresa Torrent-Ellis with the Maine Coastal Program agreed to pay for rim removal and disposal. Peter and Charlie Berdahl, a student in Bowdoin College’s Outing Club, picked up the tires and took them to Lee Tire at Cook’s Corner. Extending the favor, Lee Tire’s owner, Wayne Gagnon, accepted the tires, rims and all. He charged only $30 for their disposal, instead of the $200 the Town of Brunswick had estimated it would cost.” Win’s good deed reverberated like ripples on a pond. Jim and Ruth Harvie, neighbors he barely knew, stopped to thank him as he was removing the last of the trash from the salt marsh. He mentioned that his next project would be to fill the pot holes on his road, along with four other neighbors. A few days later, Ruth arrived on her John Deere tractor and spread sixteen yards (25 tons) of gravel. “In two hours she finished the work that five of us could only imagine doing in five hours…and our shoulders didn’t ache at all!” marveled Win. Peter Milholland trains our volunteers as Citizen Stewards in stringent, EPA-certified protocols so that the data they collect can be used reliably by scientists and policy makers. Peter applauded the effort of the salt marsh’s neighbor, “Win Robbins, on his own, qualifies as a Citizen Steward in the truest sense.”