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The SVCA is an unusual environmental organization. Although we are a land trust, we are also an advocacy organization, one that stands up for its watershed, endeavors to intervene in situations that have the potential to negatively affect it and to eliminate pollution sources. Of the nearly one hundred land trusts in the state, only a handful of them carry out environmental advocacy programs in addition to protecting properties through easements and acquisitions.
The mission of the Advocacy Committee is to publicly advocate for the conservation and restoration of the natural systems, their inhabitants and the historic heritage of the Sheepscot watershed. Advocacy activities can include public education, and influencing public opinion,research for interpreting problems and suggesting preferred solutions, constituent action and public mobilizations, agenda setting and policy design, lobbying, policy implementation, monitoring and feedback.
Our involvement as advocates in any particular issue or project first requires a decision that the position advocated is consistent with our mission. Shortly after its founding in 1969, the SVCA became an active participant in the Maine Yankee licensing debate and a few years later became a principal force in achieving design changes to the Davey Bridge in Wiscasset which reduced the amount of wetlands filled in during construction.
Since the 1980's SVCA has been in the forefront of the development of environmentally sound alternatives for the Wiscasset Bypass. This has meant advocating for a no-build alternative and for the insisting that traffic-calming measures be imposed before choosing any alternative bypass route. SVCA members actively researched alternative routes and the SVCA has provided comments to several layers of state and federal reviews of bypass alternatives.
Also in the 1980's, the SVCA's work on a proposed asphalt plant in the Whitefield-Alna gravel pit resulted in a strengthened spill containment Plan to protect the river.
Since the mid 1990's, a major effort of our advocacy work has focused on protecting the endangered Atlantic salmon in the Sheepscot by protecting over 15 miles of river shoreline adjacent to prime salmon breeding and nursery areas through conservation easements and acquisitions. Additional advocacy work has included oversight over the natural gas pipeline construction built in early 2000 to minimize wetland damage in the multiple Sheepscot River crossings, pressure to achieve the early shut down of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant, and the blocking of construction of a gigantic coal gasification plant in Wiscasset.
The SVCA's Advocacy Committee continues to survey the new issues that have the potential to adversely affect the Sheepscot River. These include new tidal energy proposals in the Sheepscot River in Wiscasset, the Points East development project and proposals for reuse of the Mason Station and Maine Yankee properties.