Community Stewardship Rises From Ash Island
By Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) Staff
Like many of us, Krista Tripp believes it’s a blessing to live and work on the coast of Maine. Having grown up in Spruce Head, lobstering with her father from a young age, Krista understands how unique and special Maine is. As a fulltime lobsterwoman and oyster farmer, she is deeply committed to doing what she can to help keep it that way. “We need to take care of it so we can pass it down to future generations to enjoy,” she explains.
In that spirit, on a recent Sunday, Krista organized an island cleanup and invited local fishing families and community members to join the effort. She saw it as a way to bring people together to have a positive impact in the community. She was particularly eager to engage kids. “I love getting the kids involved!” she says. “It was really great seeing them get excited about doing their part to restore a healthy, clean environment.”
Krista began by connecting with the Maine Island Trail Association (MITA) to see about partnering on the cleanup. MITA coordinates several dozen island cleanups each year along the coast, and Krista knew that the group was eager to work with the fishing community. “I was thrilled when Krista reached out,” says MITA Stewardship Manager Maria Jenness. “Collaborative efforts like this are so important for community building and the long term care of the coast. It’s exactly the sort of thing we’re looking to do more of in the future.”
Maria contacted Amanda Devine, a Regional Steward for Maine Coast Heritage Trust (MCHT) which owns and manages Ash Island - a publicly accessible island just a short boat ride from Spruce Head. Amanda confirmed that Ash needed a shoreline cleanup, and she offered to join the group on cleanup day.
The goal for the day was simple: remove as much washed up trash as possible in the time available. The group bagged the small stuff - a colorful assortment of plastic bottles, broken buoy shards, bait bags, pieces of rope, rubber gloves and other common marine debris items - and piled the bags alongside mangled traps and other pieces of large debris to be loaded into the boat and shuttled back to shore for disposal.
Cleaning up trash probably doesn’t rank high on most kids’ weekend wishlist, but the youngsters on Ash Island really go into it. William, the 13-year old son of Krista’s sternwoman Tiffany, was initially dismayed by all the trash on shore, but by the end of the day he felt very accomplished for having made a difference. According to Jenness, “these kids were hard workers, and they really knew their way around boats.”
Following the cleanup, the volunteers were treated to lobster dinners at McLoons Lobstah Shack. Since the owners couldn’t participate in the cleanup, feeding the volunteers was their way of contributing to this community effort. (It was well received - William’s top highlights for the day were feeling like he made a difference, and eating at McLoons.)
This cleanup was a great example of the power of connection, collaboration and community. Fishing families, nonprofits, local businesses and community members joined forces to work together toward a common goal - taking care of the place we all call home.
Through her initiative and ethic, Krista is providing a great roadmap for keeping Maine special. Let’s hope many more follow her lead.