At just over 13 square miles in area, Yarmouth is one of Maine’s smallest towns. We are incredibly fortunate to have several large protected green spaces, including Pratt’s Brook Park, Royal River Park, Frank Knight Forest, Littlejohn Preserve, Speare Farm Estuary Preserve, and Riverfront Woods Preserve. I am a strong advocate for investing in our open spaces. During each budget cycle, I fought to invest in property acquisition. Funding was often on the verge of elimination from the budget and several years we had to be creative in order to fund this investment (usually by sale of unneeded town property). Fortunately, due to this foresight, the town had the necessary funds to help purchase the Riverfront Woods Preserve, a once-in-a-generation opportunity to preserve a significant natural resource along the banks of the Royal River. Not only do open spaces preserve nature and add enjoyment to our lives, they decrease the amount of pressure put on the school budget and other town expenses by keeping that land out of development.
Yarmouth is on the front lines of climate change. Casco Bay is one of the most rapidly warming bodies of water on the planet. This warming, along with ocean acidification from increased atmospheric CO2, is having harmful effects on the fishery, including Yarmouth’s famous clams. Invasive species like green crabs exacerbate the problem. Rising sea levels make flooding and erosion more common. The increased frequency of extreme weather events also causes flooding, downed trees, power outages, and can damage infrastructure, such as roads and drainage systems.
On the town’s Energy Committees and on the Town Council, I have worked to reduce the town’s contribution to climate change. Some projects I have worked on include:
Installation of solar panels atop the Public Works Garage
Development of a solar farm, which will generate 85% of required municipal electricity, saving the town $3 million over the next 10 years.
Applying for and receiving an ARRA grant to upgrade the drives systems at the sewage treatment plant
Reducing the number of town streetlights by 10%
Conversion of street lights to LED fixtures
Placing town and school buildings into a performance contract with guaranteed energy savings
There is so much more we can and should do to preserve open space, restore the local environment, and reduce our impact on climate change.