Aug 30, 2008

Sears Island Sunday: after the barbecue, join the dramatic theater on the causeway.

After chewing the fat at the FOSI barbecue on Sunday at the corner of Rte 1 and Sears Island road, (located a few miles north of downtown Searsport) Then follow the drums and giant puppets down Sears Island road to the Sears Island causeway.

There, a dramatic play featuring the forces of natural land and sea life defying the forces of Industry, which loom up in the form of giant walking Grim Reaper puppets, while drums throb warning across the bay and harbors.

There on the island grab a mask or costume or drum, or bring your own! Musicans, singers, speechifiers: a PA system will be set up. Bring your mando, your guitar or bagpipes or ...whatever! Sing a paean to wild Wassumkeag!

After the drama ends, join a somber yet energizing walk though the 300 acre island forest sacrifice zone that the aforementioned "Friends" of Sears Island proposes to abandon to deforestation and paving over by incoming port wannabes and a colkdhearted MDOT. Go figure!

Aug 26, 2008

Sears Island - JUPC rides again - Sept 5th noon.

Once again the Searsport Congregational Church's public meeting hall will resound with false assurances and ringing indignation as the Sears Island Joint Use Committee (JUPC) goes through its final throes of exuding an agreement for perusal by the Maine legislature's Transportation and (we hope) Marine Resources Committees.
All welcome and urged to attend. Listen to eight port opponents earlier this year at a JUPC meeting

Clever state negotiators have bamboozled Maine's Sierra Club Chapter, three land trusts and
even an Earth First! leader into signing an agreement with Maine DOT that declares the western face of the island - adjacent to the bay nursery - industrial port-appropriate.
Listen to a debate earlier this summer between Sierra Club and Fair Play for Sears Island

See maps and aerial photos of Sears Island

Come add your voices to the discussion - public can speak at start and end of the meeting. tell them yo're concerned with the poor review of offsite impacts - direct and indirect- that would comje with a new industrial port containers or otherwise) would have on Penobscot Bay. Or just listen and be amazed by the dogged - if delusory - discussion as the Joint Users slouch toward Jerusalem-on-the-Kennebec aka the State Capitol.

Aug 23, 2008

Asticou's Island Domain: Wabanaki Peoples from Castine to Gouldsboro 1500–2000

The Wabanaki have lived in the Penobscot Bay area and elsewhere along the New England coast for about twelve thousand years. A recent free e-book: Asticou's Island Domain: Wabanaki Peoples at Mount Desert Island 1500–2000, offers a look back into their lives.

Much has been lost The European invasions of the 16th and 17th centuries brought smallpox, cholera and influenza, diseases against which the Wabanaki had no natural immunities. The e-book notes that

"These scourges, added to the lethal combination of firewater and firearms, almost wiped Maine’s indigenous coastal peoples from the face of the earth. Within a few decades, up to 90 percent of the Wabanaki perished in this American Indian holocaust."

Ninety percent!

Asticou's Island Domain only treats upon those later years of the Wabanaki's stewardship of our area from East Penobscot Bay to Frenchman's Bay.

An important read. The book is available as two pdf files Click Here

Aug 22, 2008

'Travesty Island' pageant on Sears Island August 31

"Travesty Island," a free theatrical event to protest plans to develop Sears Island, will be held Sunday, August 31, at 1 p.m. near the gate at the north end of the publicly owned island.

The event is intended to draw attention to the Baldacci Administration's second effort to build an unneeded industrial port on what is now the largest remaining totally wild island in public hands on the East Coast, and to chide several conservation groups for supporting the plan.

In the pageant, giant "Grim Reaper" figures personifying the forces of industrial sprawl and ecological destruction will face off against a thin line of defenders barring them from the island, led by the Green Knight and Diana, goddess of all things wild. Representatives of the island's wild animals and its marine life, its old forests and its fertile eelgrass beds will also be there defending their island home. Who will triumph?

Come cheer on the forces of creation and nature against those of destruction. Want to be part of this family-friendly pageant? There's still time! Call 548-2950 or 323-2757. Or just show up at the island at Sunday at 1pm. Bring a mask, a drum or other instrument, or just you and your friends.

In addition to the Governor, the pageant will criticise the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, Islesboro Island Land Trust and several other groups for signing onto an agreement that terms a Sears Island industrial port "appropriate" - even though it will mean the outright paving over of some 40 percent of the 941-acre island, and would badly fragment the eelgrass-laden nursery shoal edging the island.

In return the Baldacci Administration will hand over control of the island's remaining 600 acres to those groups, and allow them to build a major development of their own there – a multimillion-dollar "EcoWorld Theme Park" involving up to 10,000 square feet of roofed structures and a complex of access roads and parking lots.

"The Maine Sierra Club and the land trusts are providing green cover for a port project that ought to be setting off alarms in anyone who values our fast-dwindling natural resources," says Peter Taber of Searsport, one of those taking part in the "Travesty Island" pageant.

Directions: Take the Sears Island Road located on Route 1, two miles north of downtown Searsport on Route 1. The road ends on the causeway to the island. Look for the banners.

For more information: Ron at 691-7485 Suzanne at 548-2950 or Peter at 323-2757.


Aug 10, 2008

Army Corps of Engineers: No public hearing on MDOT Umbrella Mitigation Bank plan.

No Wild Place in Maine is Safe. The US Army Corps of Engineers has decided not to hold a public hearing on MDOT's Umbrella Mitigation Bank Plan. (rich text file)

This despite the Corps receiving:
"...10 letters in opposition, 7 of which contained public hearing requests, 0 letters in support of the project, and 4 letters which either requested more information or simply raised points about the banks or its potential candidate projects."

Those ten letters, according to the Lt Colonel who initialed the decision, were pretty specific on a variety of topics:

"a. The UMB lacks any specific site or sites and/or standards for those sites.

"b. The bank review process has not addressed various key points or raises concerns about short-cutting the permit process such as:

"c. The UMB proposes to use biophysical region service areas within the entire State of Maine rather than watershed service areas which are referenced throughout the Mitigation Rule.

"d. The UMB prospectus lacks sufficient clarity and detail.

"e. There will be specific sites proposed which themselves are of concern for a variety of issues: Sears Island and Sherman Marsh

"f. MaineDOT should not be both permit applicant and bank sponsor because that causes a conflict of interest.

"g. MaineDOT is not qualified to be a bank sponsor due to the unknown quality of their past mitigation efforts.

"h. The establishment of a bank in Maine is precedent- setting.

"i. Mitigation generally has a poor track record."

In essence ACOE's response to these was 'Don't worry, trust MDOT, and even if you don't, relax because: " furthermore, each proposal will be fully vetted by an interagency review team."

How reassuring! As if 7 & 1/2 years of Bush administration reorganizing of those very agencies hasn't made such review teams mere rubberstampers for industry getting its way!

Read for yourself Cover Letter and Army Corps Decision

Sears Island isn't safe, now.

Aug 7, 2008

Sears Island planning - before it went off track

The good old days...

Sears Island preservationists prevail at meeting

Monday, June 26, 2006 - Bangor Daily News by Tom Groening

BELFAST - Those wanting to preserve Sears Island in a mostly natural state were out in force on Saturday at a daylong information gathering session, and their vision for the state-owned island dominated discussions.

The facilitated meeting at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center drew more than 60 participants. It is the first of two sessions in which public input is being gathered by a steering committee to guide a planning process for the 941-acre island, linked to the mainland in Searsport by a causeway. ... The Saturday session used a process that allowed participants to brainstorm ideas for an agenda and then meet in small groups to flesh them out.


"Sue Inches of the State Planning Office and Jonathan Reitman read the summaries of the small group sessions and created a list of the dominant topics:

  • Gathering more information on Mack Point's capacity, shipping trends, and the value of nonport development.
  • Restoring the natural habitat on the island and returning a tidal flow through the causeway.
  • Finding a balance between conservation and compatible economic development and fisheries.
  • Creating a people- and nature-friendly ecotourism experience on the island.
  • The need for coordinated management of current and future island uses.
  • Drawing up principles to guide development.
  • Keeping the steering committee process open and transparent."
end excerpt Full Article

How did things get so far off track?