Published April 30, 2019 by Rebecca Goldfine

Brian Marcaurelle ’01 Honored for Keeping Maine Islands Clean and Accessible

The Portland Press Herald has dubbed Maine Island Trail Association's Brian Marcaurelle ’01 its "Purifier" of the year for his work keeping islands along the coast undeveloped and clean.
Brian Marcaurelle with collected garbage on a boat
Brian Marcaurelle collecting plastic garbage from island shores

He is one of seven Mainers who have been awarded the paper's annual Source Sustainability Awards for contributing to Maine's environment. The award ceremony is May 1, at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Marcaurelle is the program director for the organization responsible for the Maine Island Trail, a 375-mile water trail encompassing 234 islands along the state's craggy coastline. It's been likened to the Appalachian Trail, because boaters can travel from island to island, camping at basic sites along the way.

Fifteen years ago, Marcaurelle started as a volunteer with the Maine Island Trail Association, but within a few months, he was hired on full-time. Described by colleagues as "quiet, dogged, and patient," Marcaurelle oversees volunteer efforts to keep the islands clean, namely from ocean-borne plastics, and helps to add new islands to the ever-expanding trail.

At Bowdoin, Marcaurelle studied biology and environmental studies, and earned a master's degree in environmental management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Marcaurelle said he was drawn to Bowdoin for its strong connection to the coast. "As a student, I took full advantage of opportunities to learn about coastal issues and to explore the coast during classes, outing club trips, or on my own time," he said. "It's such a privilege to be able to extend these same opportunities to others through the Maine Island Trail Association."

Bowdoin has two islands on the trail, Wyer and Merritt Islands, in Harpswell and West Bath, respectively.

The Maine Island Trail Association takes cares of the wild islands for their owners, and in exchange, is able to extend public access to them for boaters and campers. "Whether they come by kayak, sailboat, or motorboat, visitors are expected to leave the island better than they found it," the Press Herald explains.