Wednesday, April 01, 2009
US EPA does not love and cherish Maine's plan to destroy Sears Island ...
Ronald Calvin Huber of Rockland, Maine informs me of the following news, courtesy of the very nice folks at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The folks at PEER also heart my own Hockomock Swamp, which my brother Tim writes about here. I grew up in Easton, Massachusetts, the home of the Hockomock, and its presence is imprinted into my DNA. But at age 18, I left home and moved to Orono, Maine and confronted the massive and mighty Penobscot River, whose tributaries of tributaries of tributaries are bigger than the biggest brook in my home town.
During the past 27 years, the Penobscot has become my "second" home and I have drunk deeply from its waters and explored its fascinating and frequently disturbing history. The 1,000 acre Penobscot River island now called "Sears Island," a ways off the shore in Searsport, is the largest undeveloped island left in Maine.
For the last 40 years, the State of Maine has done everything in its power, including breaking federal and state laws, to develop Sears Island, and as they say, "make it pay its way," as if a spring peeper must do useful work besides peep (run on a treadmill?) to justify its creation to God.
The Penobscot's Sears Island and the Hockomock Swamp of southeastern Massachusetts are two peas in a pod in the sense that writer Henry Moore described more than 40 years ago. They are an "oasis of peace and quiet in a world gone mad with speed, noise and strife." The human soul desperately needs such places, just as we need a clear and dark sky to show our kids the Pleiades.
Without places like Sears Island and the Hockomock, life is like climbing into a wet sleeping bag.
When I was just a baby, the now-famous investigative journalist Ted Williams was a lowly "staff writer" at the Massachusetts Dept. of Fish and Game. Around 1967, Ted Williams organized and wrote much of a small book called, "Hockomock -- A Wonder Wetland." This small book helped stop the ten square mile Hockomock from being destroyed. In this booklet, which I read thousands of times as a boy, a young Ted Williams wrote:
"On March 23, 1649, Captain Myles Standish, Samuel Nash and Constant Southworth bought the Hockomock from Massasoit, King Philip's father. Negotiations took place at Sachem Rock, East Bridgewater, and the agreed price was seven coats, nine hatchets, eight hoes, 20 knives, four moose skins, and ten yards of cotton.
In our 322 years of tenure, the Hock has withstood efforts to destroy it. Corners have been nibbled away and its face has been scarred with roads and power lines, but miraculously most of the swamp still exists in its natural state, resisting mindless "progress" by its inaccessibility.
However, draining and filling techniques are constantly being perfected and with the pressure on the land mounting to the danger mark, the Hock's days are numbered unless Massachusetts citizens decide to preserve it.
Existing wetland legislation lacks the muscle needed for a quick and solid stance against environmental exploitation. If we rely on present regulations it will take years to place even a fraction of the Hockomock under the umbrella of the law. During that time the remainder of the swamp will have been drained and filled and Massachusetts will be a poorer place.
The future of the Hockomock depends upon YOU. A favorable public attitude is the only effective defense of any wetland or open space. If those who really care about the Hockomock convince others of its value the first step toward its safety in the future has been accomplished."
All of what Ted Williams wrote 45 years ago is true today for Sears Island. And the Hockomock.
So if you ever consider donating some money to a conservation group that does really important, hard-hitting stuff to actually protect places like the Hockomock and Sears Island from being destroyed by your own public officials, consider giving a few bucks to PEER. They do good work. Tell them Tispaquin sent you.