Mary Ann Nahf: Conservation Champion
Partner Profile: Mary Ann Nahf, Harpswell Conservation Commission
By Victoria Boundy, Casco Bay Estuary Partnership
All communities have their conservation champions. The Town of Harpswell is fortunate to have Mary Ann Nahf as one of theirs.
Mary Ann moved to Maine in 2000 and joined the Conservation Commission a few years after that, in order to meet new people and serve her new community. In addition to being on the Commission, she has been a trustee for the Harpswell Heritage Land Trust for 10 years, and on numerous other committees.
CBEP’s Matt Craig, who has worked a lot with Mary Ann and the Conservation Commission says, “Around the Bay, Harpswell’s Conservation Commission is a regional leader in addressing coastal resilience. Mary Ann plays a critical role by bridging the space between regional efforts and local needs.”
With her dedicated service, the Commission has been very active. In 2016, they passed a pesticide and fertilizer ordinance, after extensive outreach to residents, businesses, arborists and pesticide applicators. The Commission is looking at streamlining the process now to make it less cumbersome for the applicators.
Right now, the Commission is focused on coastal resilience and rising tides. Sixty-eight percent of roads in Harpswell are privately owned. Last year, they held a workshop for residents of private roads in the areas most vulnerable to rising tides and storm surges. Now they are looking at public roads that will be most affected by sea level rise.
The Town was recently awarded a grant from the Maine Coastal Program to do a feasibility study for Basin Point Road. The primary objective is to develop a long-term plan for managing the potential impacts of coastal flooding due to sea level rise (SLR) and storm surge on a portion of the road, which provides the only access to Dolphin Marina & Restaurant, Erica’s Seafood, other small businesses and about 100 residences. In addition, CBEP will be providing the town with options for managing the impact of increased salt water movement into the valuable wetlands and pond beside the road. In the future, this study will help the town plan and budget costs to mitigate road, culvert and habitat changes due to projected coastal storms and flooding.
Mary Ann says the Commission will continue to focus on coastal resilience and SLR in the future. Approximately 20% of the town’s land is within 250 feet of the water. Town officials recognize the need to identify how rising seas and the consequent marsh migration will affect local infrastructure as well as habitat and the local economy. They are prepared and ready, according to Mary Ann, “to roll up their sleeves and tackle these issues.”