2012-09-14 / People

Volunteer wins island stewardship award

Efforts recognized by Maine Island Trail Association
By Emily Elliott
Staff Writer


Bob Haskell, a 15-year veteran at the Kennebunkport ConservationTrust, with his dog, Chester. Haskell won the Maine Island Trail Association’s Island Stewardship award last month. (Emily Elliott photo) Bob Haskell, a 15-year veteran at the Kennebunkport ConservationTrust, with his dog, Chester. Haskell won the Maine Island Trail Association’s Island Stewardship award last month. (Emily Elliott photo) KENNEBUNKPORT – Longtime Kennebunkport Conservation Trust volunteer Bob Haskell has always loved the ocean and islands.

He has painstakingly developed the Island Steward Program to clean and maintain the islands in the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust. That program won him a Maine Island Trail Association Partnership award last month.

This is the 24th year the award has been given and the second time Haskell has received it. Some of the island stewards from the program showed up at the association’s annual meeting at the Rockport Boat Club to surprise Haskell.

“This award was totally a surprise. Previously, I was the second person to receive it, and now they have given it to me again,” Haskell said.


Volunteers from Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and local fishermen help clean up fishing gear beached on local islands, which is returned to the owners. (Courtesy photo) Volunteers from Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and local fishermen help clean up fishing gear beached on local islands, which is returned to the owners. (Courtesy photo) Haskell’s expression and voice as he talks about the islands convey his deep love and respect for them.

He first saw the impact from civilization that the islands in Maine were enduring as a British Canoe Union Kayak Guide.

“Islands are really very special places,” Haskell said. “I’ve been connected to the water and the ocean since I was a little kid. As a guide, I could see these places needed help.”

The Island Steward Program Haskell set up in Kennebunkport 11 years ago closely mirrors the Maine Island Trail Association’s principles, with some slight modifications to suit the area.

When the program started, it was seasonal but, for the past five years, the program has run year-round.

Now Haskell has 14 island stewards in the program; four new members this year alone. Stewards can become skippers or mates, to help with the boats.

“It’s great to get new blood into the program. We really have a terrific crew,” Haskell said. “None of this would be possible without my stewards, skippers, and mates. This award is dedicated to them, because we all work so well together.”

Haskell is a board member of Marine Mammals of Maine, and he and a half dozen of the Stewards all have animal rescue training.

They are also certified as Leave No Trace instructors, he said, and they educate campers and visitors to the islands about on cleaning up after themselves and leaving the islands in as good or better condition than when they arrived.

There are three habitable islands with camp sites in the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust: Trott Island, Cape Island and Vaughn Island, which have all been added to the Maine Island Trail Map. Timber Point was the most recent addition to the map.

“These islands have an amazing history and give us an opportunity to impart knowledge to people,” Haskell said. “There’s never a dull moment for us, but when there is, we appreciate it.”

Stewards fill out surveys each time an island is visited all through the year. They note how many camp sites are being used, how many boats are moored near the island, as well as the condition of the island. At the end of the year Haskell compiles the data to see the impact to each island every year.

Each June and September, Haskell and the other stewards meet local fisherman and members of the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation to clean up trash and fishing gear that has washed-up on the islands. The fishing gear is returned to its rightful owner whenever possible.

“Saturday we’ll have a few lobstermen and stewards on every island to round up gear and help it get back to the fishermen,” Haskell said. “It’s quite a show, with dumpsters on boats coming to and from all the islands.”

Each year, Haskell throws a party out on the islands for his stewards. Everyone camps out and enjoys a big lobster bake.

“It’s done with appreciation for our crew, and all they do,” Haskell said. “I have to keep the troops happy,” he said with a laugh.

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