May 31, 2010

FOPSI and the incredible shrinking Sears Island

In her June  2010 article updating the status of Sears Island after a year under the Conservation Easement : Signs of stewardship on Sears Island, the usually thorough Catherine Schmitt steers cautiously, assiduously avoiding the "P" word (Port) that,  like barely hidden ledge, would tear a hole in  the entire song and dance of those featured in her story, the FOPSIs "Friends of Parts of Sears Island"  into an "and the band played on" Titanic scenario.   And that wouldn't do.   
     Instead, while the island's lushly wet western forests and saltmarshes  are at increased  risk of being destroyed, of vanishing beneath waves of concrete, steel and asphalt as an industrial port materializes, the tale of FOPSI  is one of tranquil mending of paths and byways of their "protected portion" of Sears Island, oblivious to the din, the shudder and roar of industry - scant yards from their piece of truncated paradise!

     One thinks of an Island Institute editor grimly trimming away all of Schmitt's sentences describing dissent with the plan, litigation and otherwise, that gives a pair of ENGOs control over 600 acres of the 900+ acre island. At least one HOPES such an editor had at her story. For, what of those opponents of dividing the island?                What of  the three civil actions currently in  Maine Superior Court, contesting the validity of the state's easement deal with Maine Coast Heritage Trust  granting a private company a perpetual easement governing two thirds of Sears  Island?  
What about the 1000s of Mainers and others who've made their opposition to island-splitting deals clear, decade after decade? 
     Schmidt dismisses (there is no other word) these concerned multitudes (who reside on all parts of the Maine political spectrum) thus:

"Others, however, are a bit upset about the changes."
     Who are these upset ones? Dissent  having been relegated to being only a "bit",however,  there's no need, Schmitt evidently thinks, to cudgel the poor readers' brains with any details on those people. 
     Beyond that shredding of the article, one is troubled that Schmitt not probe a bit more deeply. She writes:
     Because the Trust only holds the easement, and does not own the land outright, they don’t take an active management role, said McMullin.
     Evidently regarding that as the final word, Schmitt doesn't trouble to consult the aforementioned easement, which gives Maine Coast Heritage Trust, as "the Holder" myriad decisionmaking powers over land use  up to the power to bar people from the island entirely.  
After describing  the trail maintenance measures undertaken on the eastern portion of Searse Island, by FOPSI, comes this gem:
The Friends have access to the western side of the island, most of which is retained by DOT, said Marietta, “but we’re not anxious to put too much time into that area.
     And why does anxiety lurk in that area, pray tell?   The reader is left to imagine for herself the terrors lurking in those swampy forests covering western Sears Island. For Schmitt doesn't. Is it those brooks lacing their way down to Searsport Harbor, the ones that would be filled, cemented over - are they the source of the FOPSI-ites' anxiety? We are left hanging.
    That's it. that's the lock, stock and barrel of Schmitt's article's mention of the ongoing dissent over the future of Wassumkeag.  All I can say is...
    A pox on those editors and their cutting room floors! Their cuts and their pastes!  One has always expected this in the Herald Gazette and other general news pubs; it aches to find the same smoke cloudery by the Island Institute's editors.

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