We have a lot to be thankful for and some regrets looking back on 2016. By ‘we’, I mean our Ogunquit Conservation Commission which I found myself chairing a year and a half ago.
Before I became chair, our conservation commission, anywhere from three to five people depending on who is away or sick, spearheaded Ogunquit becoming the first town in New England and the second in the nation to be an all organic town.
Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are forbidden outdoors now in Ogunquit and have been since two years ago January 1st.
That action, initiated by our Conservation Commission and endorsed by our voters, might have been the catalyst that sparked other towns and cities here to follow suit. Chemical pesticides can be overused and poison our streams, rivers and surrounding sea, while becoming a health hazard for children, adults, our pets and birds and other wildlife.
Because Ogunquit has forbidden chemical pesticides, our town was given the highest award from Washington, DC based Beyond Pesticides at their gathering in Portland last June.
Then the New England EPA presented our Conservation Commission with its Merit Award for “those who have made outstanding contributions to protect New England’s environment.” Senator Susan Collins sent congratulations and added her voice to what our tiny Commission has accomplished over the years.
We continued working with FB Environmental Associates locating possible sources of contamination and pollution, along with an additional grant that brought all the towns in the Ogunquit River Watershed together so that we could locate the sewer and septic systems within the watershed.
I regret I was unable to speak at the Portland Beyond Pesticides Conference, the Maine Organization of Conservation Commissions in July or the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Unity Fair in September, generous invitations all of them.
But mostly I am grateful to our tiny conservation commission and our Ogunquit voters who want to preserve their health and environment.