Friday, November 20, 2009

$1 Million Federal Award advances
Conservation of York River

York Land Trust (YLT) and the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea conservation partners (MtA2C) announce the protection of an ecologically significant property on the York River in York. In 2005, aided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Program, the partners made a “federal case” for supporting York River conservation and won a million dollar North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) award. It was recently used to purchase 240 acres of pristine saltmarsh, shorelands, field and forested uplands from the Davis family, one or York’s founding families and long time supporters of community conservation.
“Our family settled this land in the 1600’s and lived on it continuously until 1963, when our great aunt Alice R. McIntire died and our mother Mary McIntire Davis inherited the land. Before her death, it was our mother’s fondest wish that the land remain undeveloped and in its natural state in-perpetuity. We believe conveying the land to the good stewards of the York Land Trust will ensure our mother’s legacy and provide for the enjoyment of the citizens and visitors of York. My brothers, Dan and Jim, and I are pleased to be able to continue our family’s affiliation with the York Land Trust,” said Mal Davis.
“We are grateful to the Davis Family for working with us to protect this spectacular property and for their generosity in selling the land for less than its market value, as a donation to the York Land Trust. The success of the project was due in part to this important gift,” said Doreen MacGillis, Executive Director of York Land Trust. “In addition, the value of a partially donated conservation easement to Maine Coast Heritage Trust by the Delano family on a 390-acre parcel on Gerrish Island in Kittery last year provided critical match necessary to secure the federal NAWCA grant.”
The NAWCA proposal was a rigorous process that focused national attention on the York River System’s distinctive preservation arguments including 1) that the River’s estuary, shoreland and contiguous forested uplands provide priority habitat for 100 types of waterbirds, or nearly every species regularly seen in the entire Atlantic Flyway, 2) that conserving the lands connected to the River and its source wetlands and streams protects many non-bird species including half of the entire possible diversity for estuarine fishes in Maine, rare turtles, amphibians, invertebrates, and mammals, and 3) that the rich marshes of the York River comprise one of the largest intact coastal wetland areas in southern Maine. Project leader Stewart Fefer with the USFWS Gulf of Maine Program said, “This York River project protects forever a diversity of nationally significant coastal wetland habitats for fish, wildlife and people. We are delighted to have been able to assist in this important conservation partnership.”
According to aquatic biologist Michele Dionne, PhD. director of research at the Wells Reserve (WNERR), “from harbor to headwaters, the York River, an exemplary New England coastal watershed has retained an impressive degree of ecological integrity. The ecology of the River is directly connected to the ecology of its surrounding landscape. If the shorelands lose their natural functions, so do the brooks, streams, creeks and channels of the watershed and estuary. As an aquatic scientist, I greatly appreciate the timely and critically important work of the Mt A to the Sea Coalition in protecting the lands that protect the River. As a local resident, I understand the depth of commitment required to pursue this far-from-simple mission. As a parent, I am truly grateful for the Coalition’s growing natural legacy - a gift beyond measure to us all.
This is one of 45 projects, representing a total of 2,746 acres that the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Coalition has completed since its inception in 2002.
Photo caption: Conservation lands conserved by the Mt. A to the Sea project (Courtesy photo)

Master Yarnspinner’s Latest Yarn

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Joyce Tracksler has made for herself a loyal readership and a place in Kittery lore with her mysteries that often feature local personalities and a smorgasbord of evil plots from criminal masterminds. Her eagerly anticipated tenth novel, Home of the Brave, stretches the mystery genre to historical fiction that buzzes with World War II era lingo, and laughable old world etiquette that is juxtaposed by Portsmouth’s infamous red light district.
In the opening chapters, we are introduced to a colorful array of characters from ladies of the night to upstanding locals who work together to put on a USO show for the homeward and war-ward bound troops. But, we are also introduced to a puzzler involving the charred remains of a dog name “Pal” found on Seapoint Beach by a runner.
Dodging through the Atlantic, a ship full of injured soldiers and love struck nurses makes its way toward the Naval Yard. Among the passengers is the handsome and heroic Joe Martin and a plain Jane nurse Eunice, who burned her re-grown curly red locks saving soldiers from a blaze. Nurses Michelle and Carol do some creative paperwork to tip the scales to their comrade’s favor hoping the blinded soldier will see love in Eunice. As a result, rather than going across the country to be treated, Joe happens to have been reassigned to receive his treatment right in York hospital where Eunice would be by his side.
As the arsons claim more lives, and more of the street walkers turn up missing, an unhappily married police chief, Randy, teams up with Inga, a criminal psychologist, to profile any suspicious locals and to trace the patterns within the crimes. The town of Kittery holds an assortment of motley and curious characters, many of whom could be just cagy enough to commit such heinous crimes.
Tracksler adopts some playful uses of text by starting each chapter with news headlines from local and national papers regarding the war, the arsons, a prison escape, and the USO show. She nicely plots a firm historical context with these headlines, and inserts several USO playbills that feature the name of actual modern day Kittery residents. Tracksler successfully fleshes out the bawdy and prudish characters in all their glory, and weaves a very believable World War II era Seacoast using some local history as a weapon in her arsenal.
The only piece of this work that readers might struggle with is the barrage of characters. The first fifty pages might make the reader feel like the new kid in school, but as each character returns in later chapters, the reader will find themselves thoroughly rewarded as they are acquainted and acclimated with this little town. Furthermore, once the ship comes in to port and the soldiers file in among the locals, the story begins to flow into a single narrative and the fun begins.
In Home of the Brave, Joyce Tracksler shows she has paid her dues writing good yarns about eccentric characters that seem too much fun to be true, and masterfully plots them into an entertaining read that gets deeper into your skin with every page.
Photo caption: Cover of Home of the Brave by Joyce Tracksler. (Courtesy photo)

The New School To Help Winterize Homes of Those in Need

The New School devotes two days in November to community service called Giving Back Days. This November, the days are the 23rd and 24th. Teachers, students and volunteers will work in the Kennebunk area winterizing the homes of older or disabled people, or low- income families.
Students and teachers worked with United Way several years ago with the Keep ME Warm program, which distributed and installed winterization kits to low income families in York County. The kits contained shrink-wrap for sealing the older style, single- paned windows, weather stripping for doors and windows and insulation for electrical outlets. Thus many of the students and teachers have been trained in weatherization. There will be five New School teams made up of a skilled volunteer leader, and five students.
For those who live in older homes and can’t afford to purchase new, insulated windows winterizing the house is the way to save energy this winter. An Indoor Window Insulator Kit costs about $16, will insulate five 3 x 5 windows and can increase the R-value of a single pane of glass by 90 percent. Felt or foam weather stripping is inexpensive and saves a lot of energy when applied to cracks or crevices between doors and doorjambs – a 1/8” space between an exterior door and its threshold is equivalent to a two square inch hole in the wall so imagine the amount of heat that escapes. Another inexpensive and easy way to reduce heating costs is to insulate the electrical outlets on your exterior walls. While most people don’t consider this to be a major source of energy loss, keep in mind that behind every faceplate that covers a light switch or electrical outlet is a hole in your wall. Adding a foam insulating gasket allows you to create a tight seal between the wall and the faceplate without altering the appearance of the socket.
The New School expects to be able to winterize between 15 and 20 homes during the two days. With donations from the Town of Kennebunk, the Southern Maine Church of Christ, Lowes and Home Depot, there are some kits available at no cost for those who can’t afford them. If anyone would like to volunteer to help with the project or donate materials you can contact The New School. Regardless of whether you can afford to buy the materials, the teams are willing to do the labor and can provide some materials. If you’d like help winterizing your home on November 23rd or 24th please call 985-3745.