Friends of Sears Island met October 4 2009 at the Yardarm Motel in Searsport. The group was formed in 2004 but incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non profit only last year. Its mission is ostensibly to steward only the 601 acres of the island under conservation easement, and ignore the other third of the island which is in peril of port speculation.
Special Guests Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch and Harlan McLaughlin of Fair Play for Sears Island examined how deeply the group is attached to the 601 acres-only stewardship limit, by urging a larger approach to protecting the full island. They found little if any resistance to the notion, but FOSI is presently focusing on the introductory baby steps as a newish organization with little if any budget.
* Sears Island advisory group described (run by MDOT)
MDOT David Cole, Duane Scott and Deane Vandusen
MDEP Andrew Fisk
MCHT Doug McMullen and Ciona Albrecht
CMLT Scott Dickerson
Searsport Bob Ramsdell repping
Comments noted this was very top heavy with govt types, and likely to be not very useful for conservation purposes.
* FOSI Next Steps. Build a kiosk/information signboard at the entry way with a map & other info.
* FOSI Grant Proposals
The group has grant proposals out to Maine Dept of Conservation, for $8-10K for an Ecological Survey and a lesser amount for trail maintenance from the Conservation Corps(?)
* Trails Expansion Much discussion fo grooming the trails and getting permission to open up new ones. Difficult to have an island perimeter trail because the wetlands that top the bluff along west side of the island would need major boardwalks to do it without stopping up the wetlands flow of nutrients onto the beach and bay. The island's western beaches are fully submerged at high tide.
* Promotional events: kayak races, swim round the island races, Strongly urge group to specifically do around-island events so not pigeonholed to the 601 acres only but identifies with protecting entire island.
* On skiing Noted that state requires crosscountry ski trails to be quite wide - more than the Sears Island path people want to go.
* Aquaculture proposal Billy Vaughan the Massachusetts based would-be oyster aquaculturist has not applied for a lease next to the Sears Island causeway, Nor has he followed up on his offer to be part of the shellfish committee either.
* Refuge HQ proposal USFWS selected Rockland over Searsport but their negative depction of the Searsport site may inhibit other potential scientific tenants of the island.
* Eco-World?: No educational center proposal has surfaced from MCHT or anyone else, yet
* Mack Point - FOSI hopes to still promo Mack Point over Sears island. Islesboro Islands Land Trust, FOSI and Sierra club feebly protested MDOT's consultant's determinatin tht mack Point isn't suitable Suggestion that Offshore wind energy task force interested in bilding a port at Sears Island to offload windmill parts.
* Jimmy Freeman is off the FOSI bus. His presidency of that outfit was bringing unwanted "fire" down on the FOSIs. They appreciated the stairway, though, and were quite put out by the mocking poster someone had emplaced nearby. But, Jimmy brought the fire down upon himself by tattletailing of Sears Island defenders plans to the authorities, by his suppression of port opponents in Maine's green communities, and by his threats on behalf of the governor's plans. He has forever cast his true allegiance in doubt among environmentalists (beyond the Freemanistas who do his bidding irregardless of his behavior.)
* Ecological survey Suggested the value of expanding survey to include the beaches, intertidal areas and shoal waters all the way around the island.
* Beach seine surveys to be done around island by Penobscot Bay Watch using university seine.- Could FOSI take part? Yes. It was observed that shortnose sturgeon were unexpectedly detected by use of nets in waters north of Bucksport
* Other data sources. Poorly researched upper bay because of the politics of pollution and Sears Island. Check with universities and suggest research plans for university professors to take to their students looking for things to do their theses or doctorates on. Unity College did some research on Sears Island beach recently.
* Get schools involved.
Nice meeting. Harlan and Huber left satisfied that they'd give the FOSIs some ideas to exploit.