Maybe you’re starting to think about priorities for the new year and what you might try to do more or less of going forward. If you live along the coast, as we do in Brunswick, you might decide to spend some time learning more about how to be a responsible citizen of that coast. While most people don’t actually live on the waterfront, the connectivity is still there through our streams, rivers, lakes and even the water we put on our lawns or the chemicals we put on our driveways to melt the ice in the winter. There are myriad ways we can impact the coast, and yet, there are also a number of simple things we can all do to be better stewards of it and to minimize the impacts we have on the ecosystems and marine resources that we enjoy and depend upon.

A couple of years ago, Brunswick’s Rivers and Coastal Waterways Commission, the town committee that deals with a variety of coastal issues, published an updated version of the “Guide to Brunswick Rivers and Coastal Waters,” a booklet designed to inform people about the impacts of sewer and water in the town as well as to provide maps and information about places where the public can access the waterfront. Brunswick has 67 miles of waterfront between its rivers and coast, as the commission’s name honors, but it isn’t always easy to find your way to spots along it. The guide is available online on the RCWC’s website and also available at the Town Office. As a side note, the RCWC’s meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. and are open to the public. They are also broadcast on the local cable station, and agendas and minutes are posted online. There is a lot to learn about coastal living from the information on or linked to from the town’s website.

Another guide recently was released by a collaborative group of organizations in Harpswell that aims to provide some of the same information to the town’s residents. “Scuttlebutt: How to Live and Work in a Waterfront Community,” was produced by the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, the Holbrook’s Community Foundation, the Harpswell Anchor and Cundy’s Harbor Library and is now available online at or at Cundy’s Harbor Library and Harpswell’s Town Office. The guide has information about the different types of fisheries in Harpswell, ways that homeowners can minimize their impacts on the town’s coastal environment, tips for cooking local seafood and information about preserving access for future generations to work on the waterfront, along with many other resources. The title of the guide speaks to its intention to provide the insider information, or “scuttlebutt,” refers to the guide’s purpose of sharing the inside scoop about living on the waterfront with those who might not be familiar with all of its ins and outs.

“Scuttlebutt” was created following a series of panel presentations held in Harpswell in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022, “Living and Working in a Waterfront Community: A Conversation Series,” that was put together by the same set of organizations that created the guide. All of the presentations as well as links to the articles are available on HHLT’s website. A similar panel presentation was done in Brunswick in partnership with the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust this fall, and that recording is available at

If learning how to be a more responsible coastal citizen isn’t part of your New Year’s resolution, maybe it’s just that you have a little extra time around the holidays and want to learn more about the Maine coast, it’s heritage, resources and how you can be more of a participant in its stewardship.

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