Downeast Forum on Coastal Access, Carter Conference Center, Machias, Maine, January 19th, 2006.
Recent, widespread shifts in coastal land ownership and uses are bringing about change in the traditional patterns of coastal access in Maine. These changes have important impacts on water-dependant industries, as well as recreational and private property users.
Each year, bacterial contamination forces the closure of hundreds of acres of clam flats in southern Maine. These are the same bacteria that can pose a health risk at popular swimming beaches. Fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria are used as indicators that other, more harmful, pathogens may be present in coastal waters. But since wildlife, domestic animals, and humans can all be sources of fecal coliform, it is difficult for managers to identify the exact source of the bacteria.
In the last five + years, the boom of the housing market in the greater Boston area has priced out many, pushing them further and further south, west and north of the city. Being within 60 miles of downtown Boston, southern York county Maine has experienced extreme development pressure during this timeframe, resulting in sprawling development patterns. Maine has historically been the most economically challenged of the New England states and sprawl has increased pressure on the limited fiscal state and municipal resources.
Volunteers Mapping the State of Maine's Beaches since 1999
Development patterns in coastal communities during the housing boom of the 1990's and early 2000's often favored construction of residences featuring large homes on large lots. This approach resulted in the availability of housing stock in those coastal communities that was unaffordable to much of the communities' workforce. In response, the firefighters, police officers, teachers, retail workers and others who make up this vital workforce, have often moved outside their work communities in search of homes they can afford to own or rent.
Coastal access and working waterfronts have been a major focus for Maine Sea Grant since 2003 when, in response to reported fears of declining access, we hosted our first workshop for 100 participants with the Gulf of Maine Foundation and others.
Thank you for joining us at Coastal Access in Southern Maine. One goal of the forum is to provide resources and tools to help participants take action in addressing local coastal access issues. Below you will find downloadable files that summarize the content and discussion of the forum.