Opinion: Preserving Our Coastline

By Carla Charter

There are certain landscapes that need no explanation. Certain iconic places that bring your heart home to New England, no matter where you are. Leaves turning colors near a covered bridge, maple trees being tapped, the rolling hills of Vermont dotted with dairy cattle, they are all part of the New England landscape which is ingrained into the very soul of who we are.

Then there are the seascapes calling us to our past and our present. For me that ocean breeze will always bring me back to York Beach and the week each summer that my family and I spent there as a child. This location holds a special spot in my heart, with the name alone bringing instant memories of long sunny beach days, kite flying and watching salt water taffy being made.

The smell of the salt water, the breeze of the sea air and the vastness of the ocean itself casts a special kind of New England magic over anyone who sees it. The shores beckon to me still and I could sit there for hours mesmerized by the great Atlantic Ocean, musing on how many great American tales began on those seas and how many adventures awaited those who were yet to sail.

The ocean has not only carved its shores into our collective memory but has shaped who we are as a people. From the fisherman to the lobsterman, to the sea captains of earlier days and even the pilgrims themselves have been carved by the environment they ocean that surrounds them. The Atlantic flows through the very heart of the New England community.

Which is why I am so concerned about discussions of off shore drilling being allowed by the federal government. Drilling that will be done by corporations who come from away, who may not understand the complicated intertwined web which exists between New England and her ocean.

We know that without the Atlantic’s caretakers who have lived side by side with her, in all of her moods, through all of her seasons, this delicate dance between water and land, between marine life and humans could easily fracture.  If we take her oil, we need to seriously consider how will this impact this unique tug of war that binds our natural give and take. Will this tenuous bond, once sprayed with oil, be dissolved completely and irrevocably, and in turn what that will mean for our very heritage and people  itself.