Five feet of muck

Five feet of muck is a million cubic yards of possibly contaminated spoils. I am very disappointed that nearly all of the members of the Bangor City Council voted to support the proposed forty-foot-deep improvement dredge of Searsport Harbor without requiring the Army Corps to complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

I believe an EIS should be completed for the following reasons: First, the Army Corps has recently published two very official and opposite conclusions regarding the need for the larger, forty-foot deep dredge. Their Environmental Assessment that was completed in 2012 concerning the impacts of the recently proposed DCP – LPG terminal and tank concluded that no dredging (not even maintenance) was needed for the large, deep-draft LPG tankers that would have come into Mack Point. Then when that project fell apart, the Corps very shortly after (2013) introduced this dredging project to the public, and announced an exactly opposite conclusion — that not only do we need maintenance, but also improvement dredging. This leaves average citizens scratching their heads and wondering about how reliable the Army Corps' assessments are. How can both conclusions be considered valid?

The Corps' sudden reversal of opinion seems to suggest that an Environmental Assessment can perhaps be tailored to fit the political pressures prevailing and obviously an EIS would be an instrument that is not so easily manipulated. Additionally, the Corps' Feasibility Study for the proposed project says on page 37 that landfill disposal of the dredge spoils “was not considered practical or cost effective for the large volume of material to be dredged at Searsport Harbor from the channel, turning basin, and maneuvering area." Here, the Corps states that this project involves a “large” amount of spoils — too large to be considered for inland disposal.

I believe a dredge of this magnitude — too large for inland disposal, according to the Corps — necessarily requires a larger study than the Corps' cursory Environmental Assessment. At the first “dredge” meeting held by the Army Corps in Bangor, Mr. Cole, our ex-transportation commissioner, stood up and emphasized that the project proposed is “too small” to warrant an EIS, compared to other projects down the Eastern Seaboard. He also said that the average time it takes to do an EIS is thirteen years, and that an EIS would “not add any new information." I believe the idea that this project, unprecedented in its scope in the Midcoast area, is “too small” to warrant an EIS is a cavalier and misleading assessment.

In addition to the possible immediate effects of the dredge, which could be substantial, the potential longer-term results of this dredge must be examined. Many transportation consultants, businessmen and investors are hoping for a busier port with larger ships, including more foreign ships, and more industrial activity centered in the Port of Searsport, and these “results” must be considered in regards to the future health and productivity of the Bay, the Penobscot River estuary and the livelihoods of families who live and work in the area, especially those who rely on the productivity of Penobscot Bay for their survival. All of these futures must be examined in the form of a complete Environmental Impact Statement.

Sure, folks down in New York City or Boston wouldn't bat an eyebrow about a million cubic yards of dredge spoils, but we have things here that those large metropolitan areas have lost: still clean and productive waters, a world-class lobster industry, the southern-most population of Atlantic Salmon in America, and a quiet attractiveness to the rest of the world.

Change is inevitable but this change needs to be accomplished transparently and responsibly. We should prevail on the Army Corps to be as cautious and prudent with the integrity of our most important natural resource, Penobscot Bay, as they are with the depth of those shipping lanes.

Sally C. Jones


Caring for the earth – one tree at a time

This year marks a milestone for TREEKEEPERS LLC – as we celebrate our company’s 20th anniversary! For the past 20 years, since founding the company in 1994, we and our wonderful and skilled employees have worked hard to fulfill our company’s mission of caring for, preserving, and protecting Maine’s trees. We are proud that TREEKEEPERS LLC has earned a reputation for delivering knowledgeable tree care and arboricultural consulting services of the highest quality.

Unfortunately, our celebratory mood was dampened upon discovering (while leafing through Down East magazine’s April issue) that a person named Robert Stanley has begun advertising in the Maine media as a consulting arborist under the business name “Tree Keepers.”

Since 1994, we have done business throughout Maine as “Johnson’s Arboriculture- TREEKEEPERS LLC” and “TREEKEEPERS LLC” and both trade names are registered with the Secretary of State. We are deeply concerned about this infringement, the obvious confusion it will cause, and the potential harm to our company.

We wish to make perfectly clear that Mr. Stanley and his company (including his website and email address) are not affiliated in any way with us. We know nothing about him, his claimed professional qualifications, what services he offers, or the quality of those services. He has no authority to speak for or to act on behalf of our company. We have not authorized him to use the trade name “Tree Keepers” and we have requested him to cease doing business in Maine under that or any similar name.

For two decades, TREEKEEPERS’ licenced arborists have hand climbed, pruned, cabled, braced, and artfully shaped countless Maine trees. We have preserved cherished trees on historic sites and private landscapes; written specifications to protect trees during construction; planted thousands of trees, both large and small; worked (carefully) in Maine’s shoreland zones; appraised trees damaged by storms and vandals; sensitively designed and constructed beautiful walking trails; inventoried, evaluated, and pruned thousands of municipal trees; and preserved trees throughout the state after Maine’s 1998 Ice Storm.

Our senior arborist Douglas N. Johnson is Maine licensed, certified by the International Society of Arboriculture, the first Maine arborist to become ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualified, and a member of the Maine Arborist Association, Tree Care Industry Association, the International Society of Arboriculture, Society of Commercial Arborists, and Society of Municipal Arborists.

We are grateful to live and work in Maine, for the opportunity to care for a valuable Maine resource, and for the many wonderful people we have met throughout this beautiful state while engaged in our projects. We love our work and our company. We look forward to continuing to bring you the very best arboricultural knowledge and skills while “Caring for the Earth – one Tree at a Time.”

Finally, we would sincerely appreciate your help in making this distinction and spreading the word. We are Nancy and Doug at TREEKEEPERS (one word) LLC. We can be reached, as always, at 236-6855 or 1-877-TREEKPR.

Douglas N. Johnson

Nancy Caudle-Johnson