Ivy Frignoca of Portland, hired by Friends of Casco Bay as the new Casco Baykeeper, spent her first day in the position on Jan. 4 on the Friends’ boat, the V Payne, taking water samples at the 10 sample stations around the bay.

Frignoca is only the second full-time baykeeper in the history of the organization. Joe Payne handled the duties for 24 years and retired a year ago. Cathy Ramsdell, executive director, was baykeeper on an interim basis until Frignoca began.

Mary Cerullo, associate director of Friends of Casco Bay, said that the baykeeper monitors water quality at the 10 stations monthly. Her tour of duty does not include the Freeport sampling station on the Harraseeket River, which is tested by volunteers.

The baykeeper also acts as spokeswoman for the organizations at meetings and presentations, reviews permit applications, investigates pollution incidents and conducts scientific studies, among other duties.

The Jan. 27 annual meeting of the Friends of Casco Bay, to be held at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, will allow local residents interested in the health of the bay a chance to meet Frignoca for the first time. Refreshments will be served at the meeting, which will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Cerullo will speak about the new Casco Bay Health Index.

“We encourage the public to attend,” Cerullo said.

Friends of Casco Bay works to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. Its work involves education, advocacy, water quality monitoring programs, and collaborative partnerships.

Frignoca has served for the past four years as a senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation in Portland, working on oceans, clean water and clean air issues throughout New England. She holds an environmental degree focused on water quality issues and a law degree.

Her previous professional experience includes teaching marine and environmental science, advocating for stronger protections for Lake Champlain, working for the state of Vermont on policies to protect and promote state parks and forests and working as a lawyer. Frignoca has worked in Maine on a host of environmental issues critical to the health of Casco Bay, including ocean acidification, pesticide control, stricter limits on waste discharge permits, management of storm water runoff, snow dumping, marine resource management and more.

For the past 25 years, she has lived in Greater Portland, and she brings an impressive local knowledge of the ecology and environmental issues of Casco Bay.

Frignoca said she prefers a “work-with” approach to her new job.

“The bay means so much to so many of us, for diverse and different reasons,” she said in a Friends of Casco Bay press release. “My job will be to listen and work for solutions that protect the bay for its many uses. Like the baykeepers before me, I will continue working with communities in the watershed and responding to issues raised by members of the public.”

Ramsdell said in the press release she has seen “firsthand that Ivy has a tremendous capacity to study a topic and comprehend the issues involved, find ways to broach the issues with a wide variety of stakeholders, listen and then bring people together to find common ground to address the challenges and move forward. Her legal skills – which are notable – are very helpful in this regard, but we are not hiring Ivy because she is an attorney. We are hiring Ivy because she offers a diverse skill set as well as an engaging combination of warmth, accessibility, humor, and brilliance.”

Payne, who is now Casco Baykeeper Emeritus, is delighted with Frignoca’s appointment.

“Ivy is a powerful package,” Payne said, in the press release. “She’s an environmental attorney, a former marine biology teacher, and a skilled negotiator. I have high regard for her work ethic, her communication skills, and the energy she brings to her work.”

Incoming Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca, left, is shown with Cathy Ramsdell, Friends of Casco Bay executive director and Casco Baykeeper Pro Tem.

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