River House and Coastal Rivers aim to keep plastics out of the River

River House and Coastal Rivers aim to keep plastics out of the River

About a year ago, during a cruise on the Damariscotta with DRA, now Coastal Rivers, Bremen resident Eleanor Kinney looked out over the harbor and noticed a lot of blue Styrofoam boat moorings.

This type of Styrofoam crumbles easily and is an abundant source of plastic pollution in aquatic environments. Eleanor knows this from experience, as she has long been picking up bits of it along the shores of Biscay Pond near her home, where the material is commonly used for buoyancy under docks and swim platforms.

A founding member of kNOw S.U.P., a group of volunteers working locally to reduce dependence on single-use-plastics, Eleanor feels strongly about keeping plastics out of circulation and raising awareness.

And with the opening of her new river-and-farm-to-table restaurant, River House Maine, she is even more motivated to do what she can to care for the river. “Sourcing food from local oyster growers and fishermen, I’m feeling all the more connected to the River. I want to be a good steward,” she said.

Eleanor was inspired to explore whether boat owners in the harbor might somehow be persuaded to replace the blue Styrofoam moorings with a more durable alternative. Working with Coastal Rivers Executive Director Steven Hufnagel, the pair developed a plan for the “River House Challenge.”

Under the terms of the challenge, River House would match 50% of the $300 cost for boat owners wishing to trade their old moorings in for a new, durable float.

Steven had similarly observed first-hand the quantity of Styrofoam pieces along the shore of the Damariscotta river during Coastal Rivers cleanups. He took up the project with enthusiasm, enlisting the help of Assistant Harbormaster Eric Peters to get the word out to his mooring clients as well as oyster growers.

The Challenge turned out to be successful beyond expectations: every one of Peters’ clients requested a replacement mooring ball. The new balls were installed in May, and the blue Styrofoam removed.

Eric Peters deploys the new mooring balls

Assistant Harbor Master Eric Peters swaps the old Styrofoam mooring balls for the newer, more durable balls.