Over the past two months, the shore access team has continued identifying access points that are critical to Gouldsboro’s clam harvester community. In its January meeting, Gouldsboro’s Shellfish Committee spent most of an hour working through the information that Pauline Angione and Vicki Rea had collected about sites they had visited with Committee members Mike Cronin and Alan Church.
Cross-checking information with clam harvesters is essential to focusing our limited resources on the most productive or most at-risk sites. One worrisome trend emerging from these conversations is the transition of small, seasonal shorefront properties from being used only a few weeks a year by a family that the harvesters knew into use throughout the summer by vacationers here only for a week or two. Families returning to their cottage every summer often knew clam harvesters and thought of them as friends. But people renting a house through Vrbo or Airbnb for thousands of dollars a week don’t have those connections and are more likely to want the place to themselves and complain when harvesters cross the property early on a summer morning.
Bob DeForrest of Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) and Kat Deely of Frenchman Bay Conservancy (FBC) are working with Pauline, Vicki, and shellfish warden Mike Pinkham to connect the information from the Shellfish Committee to MCHT and FBC conversations with property owners. Discussions are now underway that could result in protecting access at critical locations. As soon as we have good news to announce, we’ll put it on this site.
This collaboration between land trusts, clam harvesters, and the town requires accurate information and a way to share that information and keep it up-to-date. The image you see at the top of this page shows some mapping that Pauline and Vicki have done using Google Earth to facilitate collaboration with our land trust partners.
I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of shorefront property owners who understand how vital shore access is to this community and are willing to help preserve it. It feels like the time is right to focus on this problem.