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If you are a resident, or even a visitor, of greater Portland, you know Casco Bay. You recognize its blue waters, picturesque lighthouses, and have seen the many boats and sailboats at work and play on the water year-round. But do you know who protects these waters? Who advocates and conducts research to ensure the health of Casco Bay? Friends of Casco Bay is an organization that is integral to the well-being of this body of water, protecting this natural resource for all in the community.

Friends of Casco Bay was founded in 1989 after concerns about high levels of pollution in the Bay. It is a membership organization representing those living on or near Casco Bay and advocates for them and the protection of the water. It focuses its work around science, Baykeeping, and community engagement. Friends of Casco Bay has two scientists on staff and collaborates with many others from partnering organizations. It is a founding member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, which now has over 300 members worldwide. 

Friends of Casco Bay is always involved in research, gathering data on climate change, pollution, and other water quality concerns from  25 locations around the Bay. They have recently collaborated with Bigelow Laboratory to collect samples from Casco Bay to understand PFAS incidence here (read here for more information on this research). They are also engaged in research on eelgrass with multiple partners to help understand why eelgrass, which is integral to water ecosystems and an important carbon sink, has decreased by 54% between 2018-2022.

They engage in policy and advocacy to help the natural environment. They employ the Casco Baykeeper to monitor and protect the Bay; serve as a resource to the state on the Maine Climate Action Plan; and participate in a stakeholder group to influence stormwater policy, a major pollution concern for Casco Bay. (I imagine we can all recall those recent storms, right?!)

Friends of Casco Bay also stays very involved with the community, providing education about protecting the water, as well as engagement opportunities, including a volunteer water reporter program. There are many ways to stay involved and informed about this great organization and I encourage you to learn more. Thank you for all you do, Friends of Casco Bay!