Surrounded by the rugged shores of Harpswell, Maine just 20 nautical miles up the coast from Portland, Quahog Bay comprises nearly 1,000 acres of spectacular saltwater scenery and ecosystems. Depending on the phase of the moon seven to twelve foot tides sweep in from and out to the open Atlantic to sustain a vital and productive marine habitat that is home to a diverse array of fishes, seabirds and shellfish.
For many generations the waters of Quahog Bay have provided a living for commercial fishermen and their families. They have also attracted countless recreational fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts captivated by the beauty and wonders of this special place.
In recent decades pollution, neglect and a changing climate have introduced new threats to this delicate, dazzling ecosystem. The QBC is tackling those threats head on.
The mission of Quahog Bay Conservancy is to revitalize the ecosystem of Quahog Bay to a robust and resilient state for all communities that depend on it.
Through sustainable aquaculture, ecosystem monitoring, and community education, we aim to conserve natural habitat, protect native wildlife, foster environmental stewards, support Maine's working waterfront, and partner with like-minded organizations.
Our Founders - Pat and Mary Scanlan
The Quahog Bay Conservancy was founded in 2014 by Pat and Mary Scanlan. Pat has been coming to Quahog Bay since he was a little boy, visiting his uncle on Snow Island.
Alarmed by the ecological deterioration of Quahog Bay since his time here as a boy, Pat and Mary elected to do something about it. The QBC is the product of their resolve.
The Quahog Bay Conservancy employs five full and part-time employees to implement its programs to restore, protect and preserve Quahog Bay.
- Pat Scanlan
- Dave Hunter
- Darcie Couture
- Peter Valente
- Alec Bollinger
- Nicole Twohig
President and Founder
Pat was born and raised as one of seven children in a rural farming community in upstate New York and has been visiting Quahog Bay during the summers for as long as he can remember. His uncle owned Snow Island and would invite Pat and his siblings to visit when an extra set of hands, or seven, were needed to help with projects around the island. Pat, being the budding environmental steward that he is today, would take advantage of any opportunity to explore the island, search the mud flats for crabs during low tide, and harvest clams, mussels, and fish for consumption. Pat sites these memories when reflecting on his motivations for founding the Quahog Bay Conservancy in 2014 with his wife, Mary.
Prior to founding the Conservancy, Pat earned a degree in Civil Engineering from Mohawk Community College and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1984. During his time in the Army, Pat served for a field artillery unit in West Germany, maintaining and developing artillery-firing points on the Czechoslovakian and Eastern German boarders while the U.S. was still heavily engaged in the Cold War. Shortly after his tour in West Germany, he applied and was accepted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School in 1987 and was commissioned as a U.S. Army Second Lieutenant one year later in 1988. Following his commissioning, he joined the 204th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy), reserved unit of the U.S. Army.
By the end of 1988, Pat remained in the reserves as a civilian and began working toward an Electrical Engineering degree at Binghamton University. After graduating in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, he embarked on a successful career as a Missile and Space Network Engineer for IBM and Lockheed Martin. Pat received the Top Security Clearance while working with clients such as NORAD, U.S. Space Command Air Force Missiles and Space.
Pat met Mary in 1998, moved to Woody Creek, Colorado in 1999, got married in 2000, and retired from Lockheed Martin in 2002. After settling in Colorado, Pat and Mary started a family and are now the proud parents of a son and daughter. Additionally, Pat owned and ran a liquor store in Basalt, Colorado, where he began wading into the work it would take to become America’s top distiller, a vision that came to fruition in 2012, with the launch of Woody Creek Distillers - an artisan distillery focused on producing high-end spirits - a business he currently runs with Mary and good friend, Mark Kleckner.
With a deep affinity for Quahog Bay and Snow Island and drive to ensure that his children receive the same opportunity to experience the area as he did growing up, Pat and his family have returned to the Bay during summers for more than a decade. After purchasing Snow Island from its previous owner and acquaintance, Dodge Morgan, in 2011 along with additional property on Bethel Point, Pat noticed that there had been a great deal of environmental degradation over the years. The Bay was closed to the harvesting of shellfish during the summers and there was noticeable marine debris in the water, and other areas that caused concern. To respond Pat founded the Quahog Bay Conservancy to serve as the watchdogs, protectors, and healers of the Bay, a responsibility that requires persistence, hard work, and dedication to ensure that the Bay can serve as a source of inspiration, growth, productivity, and knowledge for generations to come.
Manager of Operations
Dave has been with Quahog Bay Conservancy since its inception in 2013. Born in Brunswick, raised in Harpswell, Maine, an area that he still calls home with his wife Kristi and their two daughters. Dave's fondness of the ocean started at a young age and solidified while working as a sternman on lobster boats and exploring the seemingly endless miles of Maine’s coastline during summer breaks in college.
He studied conservation law at Unity College in Unity, Maine. Upon completion of his degree, Dave felt a calling to public service, motivating him to attend Southern Maine Community College and study fire science, preparing him to join the Brunswick Fire Department as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician in 1998. 18 years later, Dave still is motivated by that beckoning call to public service and serves as a Captain for the fire department. In addition to Dave’s academic and professional accomplishments, he is a licensed Coast Guard Captain, certified Advanced SCUBA diver, Advanced Emergency Medical Technician, High Angle Rescue Technician, and Confined Space Technician, and Hazardous Materials Technician.
Dave is a motivated, dedicated individual that is always on the go and looks for positive results as a measure of success in any project he takes on. As the Manager of Operations for Quahog Bay Conservancy, he aims to protect the Bay from pollution and invasive species while furthering the production of different aquaculture projects. Additionally, Dave believes one of the biggest challenges to the health of the Bay is the risk of overboard discharge from recreational boaters. This is because the high concentration of sewage from even one boat can release enough bacteria to close the Bay to shellfish harvesting and cause a range of ecological and human health problems. Dave and his colleagues at the Conservancy work to overcome this hurdle through the introduction of the Conservancy’s free pump out service and by educating boaters on the dangers of overboard discharges.
Dave is a skilled boat handler and views everyday on the job as a new learning opportunity. Plus, who could complain about having an area as beautiful and dynamic as Quahog Bay as an office? Witnessing the different uses of the Bay, whether it is watching bald eagles fishing, recreational boaters exploring, and watermen hauling traps all in one shared area serves as a source of continual inspiration for him and a reminder as to why protecting and conserving the Bay today will ensure its health and prosperity for future generations to enjoy.
When Dave is not on the job, he is happiest spending time with his family, supporting his daughters as they participate in various sporting events, spending time out on the water, and coaching hockey.
Consulting Marine Scientist
Darcie is a Consulting Marine Scientist for the Quahog Bay Conservancy and also serves as the founder and lead scientist for Resource Access International, LLC, a private lab in Brunswick, Maine dedicated to promoting sustainability in the seafood industry. She has always had an affinity for the outdoors and attributes much of her scientific curiosity to her upbringing on a lake in rural Maine.
Her deep curiosity around nature, and specifically the marine environment, inspired her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marine Biology from Southampton College in 1991, followed by a dual Master of Science degrees in Marine Biology and Marine Policy at the University of Maine at Orono. During this time, she developed a specific interest in fisheries biology and management with a special draw to the intersection of science, biology, and socioeconomic drivers and their impact on marine life, especially shellfish.
Over the last 20 years, Darcie has worked in the field of environmental science at Cosper Environmental Services, Northeast Laboratory, and the Maine Department of Marine Resources. In addition to her lab experience, Darcie has also worked as crew aboard several traditional-rig sailing school vessels, traveling all over the U.S. East Coast, Canadian Maritimes, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe.
Growing up in Maine and having had the opportunity to travel extensively to other parts of the country has shaped Darcie’s perspective on how precious our coastal ecosystems truly are, and how easy it is to lose them to overdevelopment of the coast, poor management, and pollution. She knows that Quahog Bay is a special place, and sits at a tipping point where misuse of the area and neglect of coastal issues could push it over the edge to a point where it is permanently impacted by a legacy of poor water quality and overrun by invasive species. Because of this, Darcie uses her talents to help the marine environment, people that live in the surrounding communities in hopes that she can set a positive example for others to follow. She believes that taking steps to protect the Bay now will ensure a healthy future and help to serve as a model for other programs in bays and rivers that might be struggling with similar issues.
Peter grew up in Cumberland, Maine and is a graduate of Greely High School’s Class of ’79. He first made his connection to the ocean and commercial fishing by digging clams and working for his father’s business – A.L. Griffin - on the Portland waterfront until he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in January of 1983. A career move that resulted in more than decades of hard work, dedication, great fishing opportunities, and adventure.
He retired in October of 2013 as a Chief Warrant Officer (CWO4) after serving for more than 31 years. Throughout his career he had several unique assignments in Michigan, Hawaii, Washington State, and Maine. Peter spent several years on Coast Guard cutters – mostly buoy tenders and tug boats - where their primary mission was to aid navigation, clear waterways by breaking ice, search and rescue, and enforce maritime law. During the six years he was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Mallow, a ship that is homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, he had the pleasure of traversing a significant portion of the Pacific Ocean as he and his shipmates sailed between the Marshall Islands, American Samoa, and many other small island nations that lie in between.
Following his stint in Hawaii, Peter was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Bluebell in Portland, Oregon, where he worked to maintain navigational aids on the Columbia, Snake, and Willamette Rivers – a territory that ranges more than 400-miles from Lewiston, Idaho to Portland, Oregon. During the final years of his career, Peter became a Marine Safety Officer, conducting vessel inspections and exams on watercrafts ranging from small passenger vessels to massive crude oil and liquefied natural gas carriers.
During his time in the military he earned countless certifications pertaining to boat-handling, seamanship, navigation, marine safety, and more. Following his military career, Peter found his way to Quahog Bay through a good friend that needed help shuttling his employees to Snow Island to work on a construction project. This is where Peter met Dave Hunter, the Manager of Operations at Quahog Bay Conservancy, and was offered an opportunity make a difference by joining the Conservancy’s efforts toward protecting and restoring the Bay. Now as a fulltime employee, his vision for the Conservancy is to grow it into a model for other organizations to follow in addition to continuing to improve and grow upon the Conservancy’s day-to-day operations.
Peter loves spending time outdoors, hunting, fishing, digging clams, and spending time with family and friends. He is passionate about his work in both protecting and restoring the Bay, approaches each day with a positive attitude, and loves that each day brings along another learning opportunity. He is aware that it is a unique opportunity to work on and around the water and is dedicated to having a positive impact on one of the most beautiful regions of Maine.
All it took was one fated day out on the water with his uncle when Alec was 12-years- old for him to fall in love with the ocean, marine life, and fishing. The experience filled him with wonderment and ignited a sense of duty within him to protect marine areas. From that day on, he was hooked and embarked on a path to learn the skills necessary to become a waterman.
He worked on his uncle’s lobster boat for two years, learning the ins-and-outs of commercial fishing. After a few years of hard work, Alec’s uncle bought him a gift that would change his life – a wooden skiff accompanied by 100 lobster traps. This gift not only served as a source of enjoyment for Alec, but it also taught him the responsibilities that come along with owning and operating a business in addition to many other life lessons, all of which have molded him into the person and hard worker that he is today.
Alec is a 2013 graduate from Saint Dominic’s Academy in Lewiston, Maine and appreciates his that his position with the Conservancy brings new learning opportunities every day, further instilling in him a deep respect and sense of responsibility for the natural world. He worked in the commercial fishing industry for nine years as a captain and crew member, a career choice that inspired him to earn his Master/Mate 100 ton and Able Seaman certifications from Downeast Maritime, Inc, certifications that are valuable to his role at the Conservancy as he is works on and operates boats in the Bay.
His concerns grew during his time in the commercial fishing industry as he observed first-hand the changes to fish populations, some of which even became extinct. Now switching roles to a Field Technician with the Conservancy, he is passionate about protecting the waters that he himself, his friends and family use every day for work and play. He believes that we need to be mindful of what is happening in our waters and work to protect them to ensure commercial fishing survives for generations to come and does not become a thing of the past.
Nicole grew up in a small town nestled in the Rocky Mountains. She was fortunate enough to realize at a young age that her passion lies in environmental conservation and embarked on a journey to learn about the natural world with the ultimate goal of working to protect it. She had the fortune of traveling to some of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world, including Argentina, Honduras, Peru, France, Switzerland, and Australia with different institutions for cultural, academic, volunteer, and religious purposes.
She is an avid adventure-seeker, which is a personality trait that has motivated her to embark on journeys, such as paddling 400-miles down the Noatak River in Alaska - one of the most remote and pristine places left on the planet. She has traveled, surfed, climbed, and mountain biked through the West Coast of the U.S., she spent a great deal of time exploring the desert in the Southwestern U.S., backpacked throughout Patagonia, and lived, worked, and skied in New Zealand.
She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Conservation Biology and Environmental Policy from Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. She spent a large portion of her college career at Prescott College’s Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies located in Bahia de Kino, Sonora, Mexico researching the by-catch mortality rates associated with shrimp trawling.
In the fall of 2013 she was asked by Prescott College to co-teach three semester college courses at the field station studying Marine Conservation. Her time in Mexico she fostered a deep love for and appreciation of the marine environment and sparked a strong desire to protect the valuable aquatic resources. In addition to her environmental studies degree, Nicole is a Notary, has PADI Open Water and Enriched Air Certifications, is a level one Professional Ski Instructor of America, can speak conversational Spanish, serves on the Snowmass Environmental Advisory Board, and is trained in basic first aid.
To Nicole, protection Quahog Bay means protecting her home and ensuring the health and enjoyment of the Bay for generations to come. Although she grew up in a land-locked state, she understands that the most basic concept of ecology is that everything in the physical world is connected to everything else. She is enthusiastic to dedicate her time and energy to the preserving special places like Quahog Bay and would like to see the Conservancy continue to grow, develop, and implement site-specific programs that garner support from the local community and, one day, expand their efforts into the Gulf of Maine.
Her time with the Conservancy is a mixture of field work and office time. About ninety percent of her workload is allocated to the Conservancy’s programs; whether it is through field work, data entry, or research and development, she is dedicated to promoting Conservancy programs with the rest of her time focused on fundraising and management work.
When Nicole is not on the job or training, she finds enjoyment in playing ice hockey, mountain biking, rock climbing, whitewater kayaking, surfing, backpacking, sleeping under the stars, and reading.