Monitoring The Islands With MITA

photographs and text by Jim Dugan

Starting down the Kennebec from Bath

Starting down the Kennebec from Bath

The Maine Island Trail Association cares for — and provides access to — over 200 islands and mainland sites on the Maine coast. MITA’s mission is dual: stewardship and access.

During the summer, a dedicated group of volunteer “Monitor Skippers” keeps regular tabs on the islands. The skippers drive a small motor boat to visit a regular route. Each route gets covered two to four times a month in summer. Some skippers do a couple runs a week, while others only once or twice a month.

Rockland Photographer Jim Dugan tagged along with one of the skippers, Bob MacEwen, for a trip around the “Western Rivers” route, about 40 miles on the Kennebec, Sasanoa, and Back Rivers and up into Merrymeeting Bay.

MITA is always looking for new skippers; contact them for info about the apprenticeship process.

Most of the islands have campsites with a logbook for visitors to sign. Bob checks these at each stop and notes how much use the island is getting.

Most of the islands have campsites with a logbook for visitors to sign. Bob checks these at each stop and notes how much use the island is getting.

Perkins Island Light on the Kennebec River.

Perkins Island Light on the Kennebec River.

Heading up the Back River. The trip needs to be timed with the tide.

Heading up the Back River. The trip needs to be timed with the tide.

Hopping ashore to check an island.

Hopping ashore to check an island.

There was very little trash to pick up on this day. Bob didn't even fill a trash bag.

There was very little trash to pick up on this day. Bob didn’t even fill a trash bag.

At a campsite in Merrymeeting Bay, a campfire site was still warm so Bob got a bucket and douse it completely.

At a campsite in Merrymeeting Bay, a campfire site was still warm so Bob got a bucket and douse it completely.

Jim says, "I saw this eagle in a tree on our way up the river. As we came back down an hour or so later, I asked Bob to go slow and close to the shore. I put on my long lens and got lots of pictures."

Jim says, “I saw this eagle in a tree on our way up the river. As we came back down an hour or so later, I asked Bob to go slow and close to the shore. I put on my long lens and got lots of pictures.”