Apr 15, 2009

Sears Island: the view from Castine

Spent the day going to Castine and coming back, my lovely amanuensis Kristine at my side. A trip to the Maine Maritime Academy, where I and environmentalist Jody Spear would debate/discuss Sears Island with three students and two faculty members - George Schatz, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance, (from the Chicago School of Economics) and Bill DeWitt, associate Dean and professor of logistics, with a vast and varied experience of west coast rail and global shipping logistics-in-practice.

Jody Spear challenged the economics- the lack of demonstrated need, the present economic uncertainties. I used a chart of the upper bay as the backdrop for describing the uniqueness of the shoals and the brackish water mixing zone, and ditto for up-river fisheries. That the dredging and chronic toxicants would permanently degrade this linchpin of the greater bay ecosystem.

A google aerial pic of the island was displayed on a large screen, and I pointed out some of the features: the port zone, the shoals, the rail yard. I should have asked him to zoom out to show the greater estuary; that was clear on my paper map anyway, though.

We went on for about 2 1/2 or three hours. Dean DeWitt had to leave early to resume his duties.

In summary...I think that economist Dr Schatz ended up quite sympathetic to the side of keeping local fisheries and tourism-based economies functional, versus setting up a new Free trade entrepot. Dean DeWitt, not so much; he's a can-do engineer. Bio-damage or not, a containerport there WOULD suck up some overflow from a crowded mega-containerport in Halifax every now and then. Would play a role in the economy of the great global economic engine.

But in the end was no sneer or scorn on any face - an amicable parting of the ways, with promises to
send the students some o f the very latest information about the Sears Island lawsuits the highlights of the 1990s fight, a few other things.

Then it was back to the fossil fuel-mobile, and a road cruise back to the western shore; a late lunch at Just Barbs powered us up before a jaunt onto Sears Island. Her sands crisp underfoot on the west coast of the Island. Oh Wasumkeag, in all your Dawn People names - for the Wabanaki and other great confederations and tribes living upon this blessed piece of earth we call Maine called the island by many names.

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