A picture of Representative Chellie Pingree
Chellie P.
Democrat ME 1

About Rep. Chellie
  • Honoring the Work of Casco Baykeeper Joe Payne

    by Representative Chellie Pingree

    Posted on 2015-01-21

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    PINGREE of maine in the house of representatives Wednesday, January 21, 2015 Ms. PINGREE. Mr. Speaker, from my District Office in Portland, Maine, I am fortunate to have a beautiful view of Portland Harbor and Casco Bay. On a typical day, one might see cruise ships carrying thousands of visitors to our city, lobster boats setting and pulling their traps, kayakers paddling to Fort Gorges, and harbor seals popping their heads out of the water.

    What's remarkable about this scene is that the bay's many uses--as a place for recreation, a source of jobs and economic activity, and habitat for marine life--coexist in a way that is not possible in many other places in the country. The bay is healthy enough to balance the needs of our community with the needs of the environment.

    I rise today to recognize and celebrate a man who has worked tirelessly to strike that careful balance and maintain it. Joe Payne is the Casco Baykeeper, placing him in the very difficult job of improving and safeguarding the health of our bay. After nearly 25 years of doing that job remarkably well--as a scientist, advocate, and relationship builder--he is retiring.

    Joe's accomplishments during his tenure as Baykeeper are too many to list in full, but here are some highlights. During a 1996 oil tanker spill, he pushed successfully for a quicker and more thorough response than what was initially given, preventing what could have been a disastrous impact on the bay. He launched a groundbreaking water- quality monitoring program that has mobilized 650 volunteers. He helped move 35,000 lobsters that would have been harmed or displaced by a harbor dredge. And he fought for state legislation that has kept cruise ships from dumping their wastewater into the bay.

    I have had the pleasure of working with Joe over the years. Most recently, I appeared with him at a press conference where he used dye, a bowl of seawater, and a chunk of dry ice to demonstrate how climate change is making our ocean more acidic and less habitable for shellfish. The dramatic reaction was a great example of Joe's ability to draw attention to critical issues in ways that make people understand and care.

    I wish my very best to Joe in retirement, though I will miss him in the role of Baykeeper. If I need any reminder of his leadership and legacy, however, all I have to do is look out the window.

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