December 15, 2017  
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Maine Environmental News
Announcement - Wednesday, December 13, 2017 

Thanks for visiting Maine Environmental News, a service of RESTORE: The North Woods. MEN is the most comprehensive online source available for links to Maine conservation and natural resource news and events. We have posted summaries and links to over 50,000 news articles and announcements. We also post breaking stories and exclusives. Be sure to check not only today's news, but take a look at the headlines from the past several days as well. Articles often come to our attention a few days after they are published. Follow us on Twitter @MaineEnviroNews. ~ Jym St. Pierre, Editor
Maine Energy Planning Roadmap hearings, Dec 19, Dec 29, Jan 10
Event - Posted - Tuesday, December 12, 2017 

The Governor’s Energy Office is asking Mainers for input in developing an Energy Planning Roadmap. Public hearings:
• Dec. 19: University of Southern Maine, Portland
• Dec. 29: Energy, Utilities, & Technology Committee, Augusta
• Jan. 10: University of Maine, Presque Isle
Help wanted: Visitor Center Assistant
Announcement - Monday, December 11, 2017 

Seasonal position, May 1 - October 31, 2018, representing Audubon’s Seabird Restoration Program at the Project Puffin Visitor Center in Rockland.
Free Skiing & Learn-to-Ski Clinics, Dec 16
Event - Posted - Saturday, December 9, 2017 

Waterville Parks & Rec, with support from Friends of Quarry Road, will provide free trail passes, free rentals, and free learn-to-ski clinics at Quarry Road Trails, December 16.
Meadow Brook/Hurds Pond Preserve Hike, Dec 16
Event - Posted - Saturday, December 9, 2017 

Cloe Chunn will lead a hike of Meadow Brook/Hurds Pond, a preserve of Coastal Mountains Land Trust. Meet at Swanville Transfer Station, December 16, 10 am. Sponsored by Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
Tax bill would slam the brakes on solar and wind energy
Action Alert - Friday, December 8, 2017 

The tax bill passed by the Senate last Friday includes an obscure provision that could pull the rug out from under solar and wind power. The House version also takes aim at renewable energy by rolling back key tax credits. These provisions "would have a devastating ... impact on wind and solar energy," according to renewable energy industry leaders. ~ Environment Maine
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Dec 14
Event - Posted - Thursday, December 7, 2017 

Tim Hudson, Superintendent, will take you through the landscape of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument with pictures. At Belfast Free Library, December 14, 6:30 pm. Sponsored by Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
Whales of the Gulf of Maine: A Naturalist’s Report, Dec 14
Event - Posted - Thursday, December 7, 2017 

Zack Klyver, chief naturalist for the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company and founder of Flukes whale watch ecotours, will present an engaging review of the 2017 whale watch season. At Schoodic Institute, Winter Harbor, December 14, 12 pm.
Olive oil tasting, Dec 13
Event - Posted - Wednesday, December 6, 2017 

FIORE Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars will host an evening to support the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust at its tasting room in Brunswick, December 13, 5-7 pm.
The Arctic Needs Your Help
Action Alert - Tuesday, December 5, 2017 

Buried deep within the Senate tax bill is a provision to open the pristine Arctic Refuge, a national treasure, to oil and gas drilling, which will cause widespread pollution and harm to the wildlife and people who call this place home. Express your disappointment to Senator Susan Collins and urge her to protect our natural legacy by working to remove this damaging language before the tax bill becomes law. ~ Maine Conservation Voters
Birds from the Footbridge in Belfast, Dec 9
Event - Posted - Saturday, December 2, 2017 

Join Ron Harrell and Gary Gulezian to watch ducks, loons and other birds in the harbor. At the Belfast Footbridge, December 9, 8-10 am. Organized by Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
Win $1,000 L.L.Bean shopping spree and an outing with David Sibley
Announcement - Friday, December 1, 2017 

Wildlife Acoustics, makers of the Song Sleuth bird identifying app, launched the Sibley Sweepstakes on December 1. Ends March 1. No purchase necessary to enter.
Baxter State Park sign auction, ends Dec 6
Announcement - Thursday, November 30, 2017 

Auction of retired Baxter State Park signs, plus the historic dinner bell from Kidney Pond Camps. Friends Baxter State Park will donate half the proceeds to Baxter State Park, and half will support FBSP programs. Ends December 6.
Blazing Ahead: the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail, Dec 7
Event - Posted - Thursday, November 30, 2017 

Jeffrey Ryan tells the story of the unlikely creation of the Appalachian Trail. At Bangor Public Library, December 7, 6 pm. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club Maine Chapter.
Celebrate CREA and the Season, Dec 7
Event - Posted - Thursday, November 30, 2017 

Meet new Executive Director Wendy Van Damme, hear about new programs and plans, and contemplate the joy of winter activity at the Cathance River Education Alliance’s 235 acre nature preserve in Topsham. At Frontier Cafe, Brunswick, December 7, 4:30 to 6:30 pm, RSVP.
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News Items
Flash freeze facility hopes to meat demand
Kennebec Journal - Monday, February 29, 2016 

The flash-freezing tunnel that Central Maine Meats uses in its Brunswick Avenue facility is relatively small by industry standards, but it is mighty. It can flash freeze up to 3,300 hamburger patties a day, and that’s the technology that the owners of the Gardiner-based slaughterhouse see as the key to preserving Maine agricultural products for year-round consumption in Maine and anywhere else the food can be shipped.
New England fishermen to begin paying for at-sea monitors
Associated Press - Monday, February 29, 2016 

Under new rules, fishermen of important commercial species such as cod and haddock must pay the cost of fishing monitors, who collect data to help determine future fishing quotas. The cost of the monitor service can run as high as $700 per day. The federal government had been paying the bill, but fishing regulators say there isn’t enough money to do so anymore because of other obligations within the National Marine Fisheries Service.
LePage urges feds to approve new natural gas pipelines
Bangor Daily News - Monday, February 29, 2016 

Gov. Paul LePage has asked regulators to move quickly in considering a $5 billion natural gas pipeline proposal from Kinder Morgan, and others, in order to get more of the fuel into New England. LePage wrote last week to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking them to “expeditiously move forward” in considering Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct project, which would connect Dracut, Massachusetts, to the gas-rich Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania. LePage has made similar requests of FERC for other natural gas pipeline proposals, including three expansion projects from Spectra Energy. The Kinder Morgan proposal has elicited opposition from environmental groups denouncing new infrastructure to move gas obtained by hydraulic fracking and from others near the path of the proposed project.
2015-16 is warmest winter on record for Caribou area
Bangor Daily News - Monday, February 29, 2016 

This winter is officially going down in the books as the warmest winter on record in the Caribou area, with an average temperature of 21.6 degrees, officials at the National Weather Service said Monday. In Bangor, where the average temperature over the last three months has been 26.8 degrees, the winter was the fourth-warmest on record. The top five warmest winters in Caribou, where records date to the 1940s, all have occurred since 2000, according to the weather service. In Bangor, the average temperature this winter was 5.5 degrees above average.
Opinion: Maine is opening its water supply to bulk water mining
Bangor Daily News - Monday, February 29, 2016 

In August 2012, Fryeburg learned that Swiss corporation Nestle Waters North America (for its Poland Spring brand) was pursuing a U.S. precedent-setting, exclusive contract with a private municipal supplier, Fryeburg Water Co., that could last up to 45 years. After a long struggle, the Public Utilities Commission approved the case, which led to an appeal on behalf of residents who believe this contract is not in the best interest of our community. The contract under appeal clearly gives Nestle the upper hand over control of our water and limits our community’s authority over future allocations. If a Maine Supreme Judicial Court appeal fails, Nestle will have unfettered access to our community’s groundwater, which gives this multinational corporation authority over our life-giving resource for decades to come. All of Maine is at risk. ~ Nickie Sekera, Fryeburg Water District
Effort to save Fort Gorges gets a boost from new partnership
Portland Press Herald - Monday, February 29, 2016 

Plans for the restoration of Fort Gorges in Casco Bay received a boost Monday after the city of Portland announced a public-private partnership between the city, preservationists and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Beginning next spring, the Army Corps will initiate hazard mitigation at Fort Gorges in hopes of restoring it as a historic site. In addition, the city of Portland has secured a $20,000 grant from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to help pay for a master plan that will identify possible future uses.
Oil truck rolls down hill in Freeport
Portland Press Herald - Monday, February 29, 2016 

A Down East Energy oil truck rolled down a hill on Hunter Road in Freeport Monday morning, authorities said. It was not known yet if anyone was injured when the oil truck left the roadway near 30 Hunter Road, according to the Freeport Fire Department. A hazardous materials response crew has been called to the scene. The roll-over was reported shortly before 9 a.m.
Maine seed potato growers contend with new bacteria
Bangor Daily News - Monday, February 29, 2016 

A little-understood bacteria is bringing back an older potato disease and threatening the reputation of Maine seed potatoes, which farmers up and down the East Coast buy to grow their own spuds. Since last summer, Tim Hobbs, the Maine Potato Board’s director of development and grower relations, has been spending a lot of his time on Dickeya, a bacteria that was responsible for an outbreak of the potato disease Blackleg in the Mid-Atlantic last year.
Bag fee, plastic foam ban take effect Tuesday in South Portland
Portland Press Herald - Monday, February 29, 2016 

Two new ordinances take effect Tuesday, imposing a ban on plastic foam food containers and a 5-cent fee on all single-use paper or plastic shopping bags. The South Portland City Council approved the ordinances unanimously last September, following in the footsteps of neighboring Portland and hundreds of communities nationwide that have taken similar steps. Communities are banning plastic foam or polystyrene packaging, also known as Styrofoam, because it breaks into smaller non-biodegradable pieces that are harmful to wildlife and the environment and there’s no economically feasible way to recycle it locally. Customers at local supermarkets and other retailers will have to buy or bring their own reusable shopping bags if they don’t want to pay a 5-cent fee for single-use bags. The fee will go to the businesses.
Opinion: It makes sense to use Maine’s forest biomass to produce energy
Portland Press Herald - Monday, February 29, 2016 

Our state is a national leader in renewable energy, and biomass accounts for 60 percent of Maine’s renewable energy portfolio and 27 percent of its electricity generation. Without healthy biomass markets, low-grade wood and sawmill residue will clog Maine’s forests or landfills and, as a recent Telegram story reported, the state could lose hundreds of logging and trucking jobs. Despite recent criticism in the Portland Press Herald by Mary Booth and Michael Kellett, Maine’s senators have shown real leadership on energy and the environment. ~ Patrick Strauch, Maine Forest Products Council
Deal Completion: Weyerhaeuser Acquires Plum Creek For $8.4 Billion
Other - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

This week, Weyerhaeuser Co. completed its acquisition of Plum Creek Timber Co. and is now known as a $23 billion timber REIT that holds the largest private ownership of timberland in the U.S. with assets adding up to more than 13 million acres [including over 900,000 acres in Maine]. The agreement to merge was announced last November. Weyerhaeuser purchased Plum Creek for $8 billion. Weyerhaeuser also paid off Plum Creek's $225 million outstanding term loan plus a $500 million revolving credit line. The new company will keep the Weyerhaeuser name and ticker symbol. A new 165,000 square foot headquarters in Seattle, WA, will be up and running by midyear.
Snowmobile towns in Maine struggle through lackluster winter
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

This time of year on Interstate 95, a good hour north of Bangor, you’ll usually find high snowbanks, ice-covered lakes and miles of hard-packed snowmobile trails. Not this winter. Brown grass and puddles cover the landscape. “It’s just the die-hards out around here,” said Mike Carlton of Hebron while snowmobiling in Millinocket last weekend. “They say you’ve got to go to Caribou to find snow. And that’s another 21/2 hours.” Northern Maine towns that depend on snowmobile traffic to fuel economies are seeing little. Snowmobile registration at the end of January was down about 23 percent from last year.
Surf-casting call: There’s no reason to wait for summer to catch a rising wave
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

Temperatures in the 50s in February certainly prompt daydreams of shorts and tank tops while walking the beach, hiking a mountain, biking a trail or maybe just relaxing in the backyard. But for a few hardy souls, the calendar is irrelevant, the thermometer a mere decoration. Staff Photographer Carl D. Walsh captured a few surfing scenes last Sunday at Scarborough Beach and Higgins Beach, both in Scarborough.
Column: Three small areas worth a trip
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

As you make plans for the rest of the ski season, let me suggest you consider a visit to three of Maine’s smaller, lesser-known areas that are more than worth the trip: Baker Mountain, Mount Jefferson and Hermon Mountain are affordable alternatives to large areas. ~ John Christie
Editorial: State’s forest products industry depends on biomass plants
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

The future of Maine’s biomass plants is being threatened by changing energy policies in the states where they sell their output, and by the low price of oil and natural gas. In the long run, biomass encourages properly maintained forests, which offset the carbon produced when wood waste is burned. If they are forced to shut down, the plants could take with them the sawmills and logging companies that depend on biomass to maintain slim profits, and deal yet another hit to the communities that rely on the forest products industry, and that are already struggling to survive. Maine cannot afford to lose these jobs, particularly in areas with higher-than-average unemployment, where the loss of traditional industries has hit especially hard. Maine should pursue policies favorable to biomass, even if that means marginally pushing up energy rates with above-market contracts.
Column: Solar deal shows rare spirit of collaboration in Augusta
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

Over the last six months an extraordinary conversation has been underway in Augusta, outside the glare of politics, about how to aggressively grow solar power in Maine. At the table were a wide array of stakeholders in the solar energy field, including installers, users, environmental groups, municipalities, the Public Advocate’s Office and Central Maine Power. What they ultimately produced isn’t perfect, but it is nonetheless extraordinary. It is an ambitious goal to increase solar use by tenfold over the next five years, including large, “grid-scale” projects, municipal landfill projects, community solar and small-scale home and business systems. ~ Alan Caron
Letter: North Woods national park would benefit all
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, February 28, 2016 

Growing up, I didn’t know much about Maine, but I could see dark green lines around Acadia National Park and the Allagash National Wilderness Waterway and knew that those were places I wanted to visit. The “national” status literally put them on the map. As a former chaplain and hotel employee in the national parks, I have seen their spiritual and economic value. National parks are places of beauty, refreshment and renewal not just for ourselves but for future generations to come. On top of this, a national park in the Maine North Woods will use bring much-needed economic growth and business to Maine. ~ Benjamin Shambaugh, Portland
Change in farmland values prompts wider discussion in Sidney
Morning Sentinel - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

An abrupt increase in the property tax bills of some farmers in town is raising questions about how the town assesses agricultural land for taxes. Farmers last year were surprised to find that the amount of property tax they owed the town had doubled. The sudden increase came after the town’s assessor corrected a decade-long mistake in farmland valuation. But landowners weren’t told about the change.
Fans mourn closing of DeLorme’s map store
Portland Press Herald - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

Hundreds of people stopped by the DeLorme headquarters on Saturday to pay their respects to Eartha and search for a deal at the DeLorme map store, where everything was 50 percent off. Employees said business at the map store had been brisk, ever since it was announced two weeks ago that the Yarmouth mapmaker had been sold to Swiss GPS giant Garmin. Garmin is keeping on most of DeLorme’s 92 full-time employees, who will focus on research and development. But the company decided to close the map store.
Opinion: No to Fiberight for Bangor’s trash: 2 reasons, 1 question
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

After attending two recent Bangor City Council workshops on the PERC and Fiberight proposals and reading Craig Stuart-Paul’s BDN OpEd giving “330” reasons to choose Fiberight for the region’s waste disposal needs, I have two solid reasons not to choose Fiberight and one fundamental question. First, despite the assertion there are 300-plus mechanical/biological treatment plants in Europe, there is no facility in North America that does what he is proposing for Maine. The even more compelling reason not to build Fiberight is that a key component of the proposed Hampden facility, an anaerobic digester for processing organic waste, already exists just a few miles up the road in Exeter. It comes down to one fundamental question: Why would any other MRC community spend millions of taxpayers’ dollars to build a facility that seems unlikely to live up to its promises or the state’s solid waste management hierarchy when there already exists a world-class, fully funded, and more environmentally responsible solution right in their own back yard? ~ Dan Bell, Exeter Agri-Energy
Editorial: Maine voters settled senior housing debate.; LePage should respect that
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

The need for additional affordable housing for Maine’s senior residents is clear: A recent study found that 9,000 households headed by someone over 55 are on waiting lists for housing that is within their financial reach. Maine residents understood the problem, and last November overwhelming supported a $15 million bond to construct more affordable housing for seniors. Immediately after the vote, Gov. Paul LePage criticized voters for approving the borrowing. The governor has held voter-approved bonds hostage for ideological reasons for years. He refused to authorize the sale of Land For Maine’s Future bonds that had strong voter support. It is important to protect access to fishing piers and open space and to help farmers and woodlot owners keep their properties, which LMF does. It is even more pressing to have more affordable housing available to Maine’s aging population. That’s why the senior housing bond money should not be hung up.
No ice means no winter smelt-shack fishing for Mainers
Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

The ice fishing shacks that normally dot the Kennebec River and Merrymeeting Bay in the winter have folded up for the year, curtailing a Maine tradition because there’s no ice to be found. Winter ice fishing for smelt is a beloved pastime in central Maine, where fishermen squat for hours to catch the tiny fish to be fried and eaten whole. But fishermen and camp operators said mild weather made this the shortest season in decades. Camps that normally remain open until mid-March have shut down for the year, and some didn’t bother opening at all.
New fish hatchery proposed to expand fish stocking
George Smith's Outdoor News Blog - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

Will an increase in stocked fish define Maine’s fishing future? The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee apparently thinks so. The Committee, by a unanimous vote, endorsed a proposal for a $28 million bond issue to construct a new hatchery. When the IFW Committee sought a recommendation from Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, he could not give them one. So they voted without any guidance from the agency. The IFW Committee voted to seek a $28 million bond issue, without a lot of discussion after the motion was made, but the vote seemed to be based on a desire to build a new hatchery, without seeking the improvements recommended for Casco and Grand Lake Stream. This probably doesn’t matter, because the chance of convincing the legislature and governor to support a $28 million bond issue for a fish hatchery are slim to none. Well, none actually.
Letter: Pacific trade pact a bad deal for America
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

If Congress passes the Trans-Pacific Partnership, there will be five more countries (the U.S. already has free-trade agreements with six of these nations) whose corporations and governments can sue the U.S. for any law they feel harms their industries. If they win in a tribunal, the U.S. will be assessed a fine and Congress will be pressured into changing U.S. law. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Rep. Bruce Poliquin have not yet decided on how they will vote. We know they are hearing a lot from the corporate side. Now is the time to let them know what you think about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. ~ Bob Lodato, Charleston
Letter: Thanks to Congressman Poliquin
Sun Journal - Saturday, February 27, 2016 

This is in response to an article in the Sun Journal (Feb. 25) "King, Pingree earn top conservation scores." It is amazing how a single word can change the meaning of a sentence. Rather than insinuating that Congressman Bruce Poliquin has been representing the interests of polluters, the director of Maine Conservation Voters could just as easily have said that Congressman Poliquin has been representing the interests of employers. Obstructing economic development may be lucrative for alleged conservation organizations, who do little more than sell memberships and rake in greenbacks from the gullible, but the vast majority of Americans need jobs in or associated with industry and manufacturing. Only a small pool of connected individuals are able to enrich themselves by milking the red herring of climate change. I give thanks to Congressman Poliquin for representing the rest of Maine's people. ~ Mark Armstrong, Lisbon
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