Credit: Alan Lishness


Casco Bay Estuary Partnership Habitat Protection Fund

CBEP funds are available to support the protection of high value habitat in the Casco Bay watershed. The 2017 Request for Proposals is available here.

Casco Bay Estuary Partnership Community Grants Program

CBEP supports local, community-based projects that combine habitat enhancement activities with strong education and stewardship components. An RFP is announced annually; please check the “Announcements” section of the Home Page for a current RFP.

2017 Casco Bay Community Grant Awards Announced

Casco Bay Estuary Partnership (CBEP) has announced its 2017 Casco Bay Community Grants awards. Six awards were made, for a total of $10,000, for projects in Brunswick, Chebeague Island, Harpswell, Phippsburg, and Portland.

Through the Casco Bay Community Grants Program, CBEP seeks to encourage new partnerships and innovative projects that engage communities with Casco Bay and its watershed, and that are tied in with the 2016 Casco Bay Plan. The following 2017 Casco Bay Community Grant awards were made:

  • Brunswick Junior High School, “Connect Casco Bay”: The seventh grade Jewell Island Team will engage in a four-week community-based, expeditionary learning unit to help students understand the fragility of Casco Bay and their duty to care for it.
  • Chebeague Island Community Association, “Chebeague Island Aquaculture Festival”: A one-day festival on the island will educate community members about aquaculture farms in the community, as well as raise awareness of the importance of water quality to these operations.
  • Friends School of Portland, “Inter-generational Investigation of the Casco Bay Watershed”: Students will learn about and test water quality, and interview seniors about their connection to Casco Bay.
  • Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, “Engaging Youth with a Junior Ranger Program”: An initiative to engage local youth and families with Harpswell’s coastal environment through a junior ranger program.
  • Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, “Community Conservation of a Phippsburg Clam Flat”: The project will bring together community partners to educate Phippsburg youth about the town’s important natural resources and actions they can take to improve these resources.
  • Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, “Climate Change through the Eyes of Shellfish Harvesters”: A video will explore how environmental changes have impacted the Harpswell shellfishing industry.

2016 Projects

  • Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust/Horseshoe Crabs Come Ashore in Broad Cove
  • Friends of Casco Bay/Nitrogen Nabbing: Mobilizing Volunteers to Protect our Coastal Waters
  • Harpswell Coastal Academy/Speaking Lands: Revealing the Stories of Unexamined Casco Bay Watershed Sites
  • Harpswell Heritage Land Trust/Short Course on Harpswell’s Coastal Habitats
  • Royal River Alliance/Celebrate our Royal River on World Fish Migration Day
  • South Portland Conservation Commission, City of South Portland/From Brook to Bay: Protecting South Portland Watersheds
  • Waterfront Alliance/Working Waterfront Stories

A total of $10,000 was awarded to seven organizations. Grant awards ranged from $500 to $2,500.

Profiles of a few projects:

“Nabbing Nitrogen” Project/Friends of Casco Bay

Friends of Casco Bay launched a “Nabbing Nitrogen” campaign with the goal of educating the community about problems that nitrogen pollution causes and ways we can all help to reduce the threat. All life needs nitrogen to grow, but an overdose of nitrogen can cause slime-covered clam flats, trigger fish kills, lead to marine mammal deaths, and cause outbreaks of shellfish poisonings. It is also linked to ocean acidification.


Credit: Dave Dostie

To accomplish their goal, Friends of Casco Bay organized a “monitoring flash mob” on July 10, 2016, which harnessed volunteer power to collect scientifically useful data. Their goal was to recruit 100 volunteers and in the end, they recruited 171 who were all trained in taking samples and assigned specific sites. At an “After Nabbing” event, participants gathered to learn more about the issue.

Soon after the event, an overabundance of algae began to appear in Back Cove, Mill Creek, and several other areas of Casco Bay. Residents and reporters, in part due to increased awareness of nitrogen pollution, contacted The Friends about the outbreaks. Since then, city officials in both Portland and South Portland have stated that they plan to draft ordinances to limit fertilizers, a significant source of nitrogen pollution.

Data was provided to the state as well as the City of South Portland, and this data will be shared publically at Friends of Casco Bay’s Volunteer Celebration and Annual Members meeting on January 24, 2017 (snow date: January 25) at the Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport.

For more information on Friends of Casco Bay, go to

Speaking Lands: Revealing the stories of unexamined Casco Bay watershed sites/Harpswell Coastal Academy


Credit: Harpswell Coastal Academy

The goal of this project was to ecologically compare and contrast unexamined sites in the Harpswell and Brunswick via GIS mapping, field recording and oral history.

In collaboration with the Harpswell Conservation Commission, Harpswell Coastal Academy (HCA) students designed projects that involved monitoring King Tides and the effects on roadways and property in Harpswell, tracking the impact of Milky ribbon worms on clam flats, and collecting data on the water quality at sites related to both projects.  There were other teams of students studying forest inventory growth plots and collecting high-quality sound recordings of natural spaces on the coast of Harpswell.

In the first quarter, 25 students were involved in assessing the need for each project and determining the research methods that would be used in the study.  In the second quarter, 16 students conducted research in the field and wrote about the scientific context for their work.  Next steps are running a workshop on statistical analysis of data before opening the projects up for further data collection in spring 2017.  Students will use GIS technology to plot this data in layers to a digital map that will be shared with the community. Students will also be conducting an oral history project with people making a living on the waterfront.

For more information on Harpswell Coastal Academy, go to:

Short Course on Harpswell’s Coastal Habitats/Harpswell Heritage Land Trust


Credit: Julia McLeod

Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT) has a number of public programs to engage local residents but wanted to offer people a more in-depth opportunity to learn about Harpswell’s coastal habitats and Casco Bay. To that end, they organized a “Short Course on Harpswell’s Coastal Habitats,” a seven-session class that included classroom time and field trips.

Nearly 20 adult students of all ages learned about intertidal organisms and visited tidepools with Janet Gannon, a former Bowdoin College instructor. Other topics included “reading the landscape,” fisheries, aquaculture, and island ecology and history. Instructors were from the Maine Coast Fisherman’s Association, University of Southern Maine, and other institutions.

Following up on this successful pilot project, HHLT is planning on running four short courses in 2017. Their objectives are to provide inspiration for participants to deepen their connection to place, feel motivated to take action to protect the coastal environment, and to engage with HHLT or other organizations as a volunteer.

For more information about the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, go to: