GEORGETOWN, Maine — Georgetown, an island community at the mouth of the Kennebec and Sheepscot rivers, will be participating in three important natural resource projects in 2013: (1) a pioneering citizen-science water quality monitoring project for the town with the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, (2) a project involving citizens and the elementary school in development of forest management plans for Georgetown’s town-owned forests, and (3) an assessment of the impacts of climate change on the island’s economy and ecosystems.
The Water Quality Monitoring project is made possible by a grant to Georgetown from the Maine Coastal Communities, which is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Using this grant, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) will work with the town’s Shellfish Conservation Committee and the Conservation Commission to create a coastal water quality data baseline that will guide efforts to protect and improve Georgetown’s coastal water quality. Georgetown depends upon clean coastal waters to support its important clamming, lobstering, and fishing industries. Ruth Indrick, who will manage the project for KELT, said “this new citizen-science monitoring program in Georgetown will hopefully serve as a model for other local communities and will lay the foundation for a regional collaboration to confront water quality in the Kennebec Estuary.”
In December, the town also received a grant from Project Canopy (Maine Forest Service) to engage the public and the Georgetown Elementary School in managing its two town-owned forests, the Ipcar Preserve and the Round-the-Cove Forest. An inventory of the forests will be conducted by a professional forester, and the community will be invited to help develop forest plans in line with the community’s values. Since the Round-the-Cove forest is adjacent to the town elementary school, part of the project involves setting up permanent study plots for students to monitor forest health and climate over time. John Hagan, Conservation Commission member, said “this project is a great way to involve both kids and adults in thinking and learning about the natural resources of their island community.”
Finally, Georgetown was selected by the Maine Coastal Program as one of only four coastal Maine sites to participate in a study of the effects of sea-level rise on local marsh systems and the marine resources on which the town’s economy depends. The Georgetown Conservation Commission and the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust will work with the state’s Marsh Migration Team, which includes representatives of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s Municipal Planning Assistance Program. The team will gather and analyze data about the vulnerability of Georgetown’s salt marshes, infrastructure, and economy to sea level rise. Over the coming year, this team will help facilitate conversation among Georgetown residents about what sea level rise may mean for Georgetown.
State experts will produce maps depicting varying sea level rise scenarios and where future high tide lines will fall. Planning experts will be on hand to discuss adaptation measures that other Maine communities are considering. Biologists will be able to field questions regarding impacts to plant and animal species.
Kate MacKay, a Georgetown resident who attended a three-day workshop, titled Climate Adaptation for Coastal Communities that was attended by KELT staff and town planners from around the state, said, “Climate change is happening. We can chose to ignore it or prepare for it. I believe the natural resources and the people of this island are well worth the time and energy necessary to plan some adaptations.”
Robin Moore, chair of the town’s Conservation Commission, said, “These projects demonstrate a strong local commitment to the town’s natural resources. We’re lucky to live in such a beautiful and resource-rich community. We have to take care of it. These projects show that we’re serious.”
Kate MacKay: firstname.lastname@example.org ; ph: (207-371-2255)
For more information:
Town of Georgetown: http://www.georgetownme.com/
Kennebec Estuary Land Trust: http://kennebecestuary.org/
Maine Coastal Program: http://www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mcp/index.htm
Project Canopy: http://www.maine.gov/doc/mfs/projectcanopy/