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News Items
Feds Setting Up Designated Habitat For Endangered Sturgeon
Associated Press - Monday, August 21, 2017 

The federal government is designating critical habitat for the Atlantic sturgeon in a step regulators say will help the fish recover its population. The National Marine Fisheries Services says the designation will apply in coastal areas from Maine to Florida. Federal agencies will have to consult with the fisheries service if they operate or pay for activities that could affect designated critical habitat in nearly 4,000 miles of coastal river area. The sturgeon was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2012. The species suffered overfishing in the 20th century when it was harvested for eggs for caviar.
Climate change consequences hot topic in Acadia, global news
Acadia On My Mind Blog - Monday, August 21, 2017 

With the United States planning to pull out of the Paris climate accord and Al Gore’s new movie, climate change is a hot issue this summer. The topic is also sharply in focus at Acadia National Park, where an exhibit at the Sieur de Monts Nature Center explores current and future climate change consequences at the park including the flooding of salt marshes, the survival of a parasite that is killing hemlock forests and the threats of rising temperatures on summit plants, trees like red spruce and balsam fir, and nesting sites of Puffins, Arctic Terns and Loons.
Trump’s national monument review to test key land protection law
Reuters - Monday, August 21, 2017 

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will recommend on Aug. 24 whether to eliminate or shrink nearly two dozen national monuments, creating the first major test for a 111-year-old law that gives presidents the power to protect swaths of public land. Zinke is expected to recommend that at least some of the national monuments under review be rescinded or shrunk in size. Environmental groups are prepared to challenge any changes in court.
Ben Polito: Clean-technology entrepreneur and co-founder of Pika Energy
Mainebiz - Monday, August 21, 2017 

Ben Polito grew up on a farm in the midcoast village of Five Islands with no electricity, and was raised using oil lamps, pumping water by hand and using generators for power tools. He is now a clean-technology entrepreneur based in Westbrook. In 2010 Polito teamed up with his good friend and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology classmate Joshua Kaufman to found Pika Energy, a venture capital-backed start-up making products for buildings to collect, store and consume energy from solar and wind sources. Though the 18-employee company does not disclose revenues, Polito said it achieved in the first quarter what it did in all of last year.
New RGGI guidelines could earn Maine up to $22.5M a year in pollution-cutting credits
Mainebiz - Monday, August 21, 2017 

Maine could stand to earn a maximum of $22.5 million and a minimum of $13.7 million a year through 2030, depending on how much and how fast the state plans to cut pollution in coming years, a recent National Resources Defense Council analysis shows. Maine and the five other New England states are among the nine states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as RGGI. The nine would gain a total of $3.2 billion in clean energy funding annually by taking the most ambitious power plant pollution cuts now being considered in the next phase of the RGGI program, NRDC found.
Lots of law changes from snowmobiles to guns to hunting
George Smith BDN Outdoor News Blog - Monday, August 21, 2017 

Each day this week, I’ll post columns about all the new laws and law changes that govern firearms, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and other outdoor activities. Here is column number one.
How Maine could reap far more from the craft beer craze
Bangor Daily News - Monday, August 21, 2017 

Brent, Joshua, Jacob and Caleb Buck, who own and operate a 1,000-acre potato and barley farm in Aroostook County, had grown barley in rotation with potatoes for decades since it’s good at replenishing nutrients in the soil. They’d sell their raw barley to a big commercial buyer for a low price. But in 2015 the Bucks started malting their barley and selling it to Maine’s growing number of craft breweries for far more than what they’d been getting for the raw grain. Today demand for the Bucks’ malted barley is outstripping what they can supply, so they’re investing in more equipment.
Maine steers new course for cruise ship industry
Portland Press Herald - Monday, August 21, 2017 

Maine wants to shift its approach to the cruise ship industry to generate more economic benefit for the state, rather than just promote it as a cruise destination. The change reflects a move by the Office of Tourism to grow the number of ships coming to Maine by coordinating the state’s marketing efforts and adding new products and excursions for cruise passengers. Previously, the focus had been to increase the number of ships making Maine a destination, but there was little attention paid toward enhancing visitors’ experience once here, or encouraging them to come to Maine again.
Abandoned wooden fishing vessel plagues island off Bristol
Portland Press Herald - Monday, August 21, 2017 

More than nine months have passed since The Columbia – an eastern-rigged dragger that served several decades in the New Bedford, Massachusetts, scallop fishery – escaped its mooring and went aground on Louds Island just off the coast of Bristol. The Columbia has become a minor tourist attraction among paddlers and recreational boaters drawn to the sight of a rusted-out ship beached in an area of Maine’s midcoast best known for lighthouses, waterfront restaurants and expensive vacation homes. But for Louds Island property owners the vessel is at a minimum an eyesore and, at worst, a potential environmental threat.
Letter: Die-off of whales may hint of greater trouble at sea
Portland Press Herald - Monday, August 21, 2017 

I am worried by this unprecedented die-off of rare right whales off the coast of New England and Canada. There are multiple theories about this particular die-off, but most troubling is that it could be an issue originating at the bottom of the food chain. This could disrupt delicate balances within the entire food web and may be a sign of future population changes or die-offs to come in other seemingly unrelated species. We need to understand what is happening in our changing ecosystems and anticipate as much of the change as possible so we can prepare for it. We should not allow our president to cut critical funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and other important research and environmental institutions. ~ Julia Gesensway, Environment Maine, Portland
Kennebec Land Trust celebrates another year
Kennebec Journal - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

The Kennebec Land Trust’s annual meeting that drew about 85 members Sunday following a morning of activities at Camp Winnebago in Fayette. The organization honored:
• Donna Buck and Jane Davis, 2017 Volunteers of the Year
• Jed Davis, 2017 Stewardship Award
• Ken Laustsen, 2017 Henry Dwyer Forest Stewardship Award
• Hodgkins, Drew Perlmutter and Jane Tekin, 2017 Summer Internship Award
• John and Lisa Rosmarin, Kelly Byron and Karrie Lykins were honored for the donation of the 342-acre Rosmarin and Saunders Family Forest in Readfield
• An anonymous donor was recognized for the gift of 28 acres to add to the Horseshoe Island Preserve on Cobbosseecontee Lake
State Officials Giving Pest Talks
Associated Press - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

Maine conservation and forestry officials are going around the state in August and September to educate the public about how to recognize and help control invasive forest pests. Maine Soil & Water Conservation District is offering the free presentations for landowners, forest professionals, landscapers and others. State officials say the sessions are designed to help residents understand the threats to forests and woodlands posed by the pests, and how to report suspected sightings. The presentations began on Aug. 15 and are scheduled to continue until Sept. 16. There will also be forest pest displays at events all over the state until mid-November.
More Delays for Low-Flying Fighters Over Western Maine
Associated Press - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

A National Guard proposal to expand airspace for fighter jet training low over Maine has dragged on for so long that many of the aircraft currently used for training could be retired by the time the plans are completed. Vermont-based F-16 fighters account for the bulk of the training flights and are due to be replaced by stealthy F-35 fighters that figure into the National Guard proposal to hold training exercises over a larger area. F-35 fighters aren't allowed to fly low to the ground and the guard says that means less noise from fighter jets screeching overhead. Some locals aren't so sure. The plans are now in their 14th year and an environmental impact statement is being revised, which could take another couple of years.
Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change
Washington Post - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government’s climate analysis into long-term planning. Other Trump Cabinet officials have either altered the makeup of outside advisory boards or suspended these panels in recent months, though they have not abolished the groups outright. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt decided to replace dozens of members on one of the agency’s key scientific review boards, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is “reviewing the charter and charge” of more than 200 advisory boards for his department.
One year later, national monument stands its ground
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

For years, Mainers debated whether a tract of land near Baxter State Park was worthy of designation as a national park or monument. President Barack Obama ended that discussion on Aug. 24, 2016, when he designated the park as Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Or so supporters had hoped. This Thursday marks both the one-year anniversary of Katahdin Woods and Waters’ creation and the due date for a report to President Trump that could shape the future of Maine’s newest national monument and more than two dozen others across the country. While Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is not expected to recommend shrinking Katahdin Woods and Waters or reversing the designation, he could suggest changes such as opening areas to logging or allowing additional snowmobiling.
Maine fishermen, scientists combine forces with goal to save shrimp fishery
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

For more than 20 years, Dana Hammond made close to half his annual income shrimping. But his shrimping profits began to dwindle in 2013. That season, regulators were alarmed by the lack of shrimp biomass in the Gulf of Maine, and the amount he was allowed to catch was cut 72 percent. The fishery was closed entirely in 2014. It hasn’t reopened since and Hammond, who fishes out of Portland, has been trying to make up the deficit from his other main source of income, groundfishing. But Hammond isn’t ready to let shrimping go. It’s an ideal winter fishery for him, allowing him to stay close to shore during rough and cold weather. He’s so vested in the future of the fishery that this summer he went to sea with the Northeast Fisheries scientists who conduct the annual summer survey, the main source of data that determines the status of the fishery every year.
Shrink wrap may protect Maine boats, but it can harm the environment
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

Before long, the recreational boating season will draw to a close and owners will batten down their craft for the winter. Many will choose the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic better known as shrink-wrap. It works well to protect boats from the elements, but comes at a high price. The boat owner pays the financial fee; we all pay the environmental. “Disposal is problematic to say the least,” acknowledges Susan Swanton, executive director of the Maine Marine Trades Association. Every spring, boat yards and boat owners pull tons of this plastic off watercraft, and most of it goes to landfills or incinerators. If Maine legislators want to encourage greater reuse and recycling of boat shrink wrap, they could direct the Maine DEP to set up a system and determine a fair means of funding it. There’s a dire need for innovation and support so that all boatyards and boat owners can do the right thing.
New life for old guitar strings
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

Betina Clark got tired of watching her musician boyfriend toss out used guitar strings. There must, she thought, be something she could do with them to save them from the trash. Clark, a jeweler who lives in Portland, started experimenting and now her business, Stringin’ Along with ME, is based on jewelry made out of recycled guitar strings. She’s expanded from the guitar and also uses strings from cellos, the bass, violins and fiddles.
Dishing with food scientist Mary Ellen Camire
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

Mary Ellen Camire is professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. She’s also the director of the University of Maine Sensory Evaluation Center, where much of her research focuses on how consumers respond to Maine-specific commodities, like seaweed, potatoes, berries and grains. We talked with her about her background in nutrition, why where you eat matters when you are taste testing and how the lab works with new local foods.
Column: Salt Pond free-for-all, fun for all
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

If you want a beautiful place to paddle where you can have fun yourself while also watching other do the same, Salt Pond in Blue Hill is the place. This tidal, saltwater pond is a very entertaining place on the incoming tide when a powerful flow of water under the Route 175 bridge fills Salt Pond. The faucet is wide open, and paddlers near and far converge at the small cove west of the bridge to test and hone their whitewater skills at Blue Hill Falls. ~ Michael Perry
Column: Preparations for bear season start months before opening day
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

For a small but dedicated cadre of the hunting community, the season has already been open for nearly a month. The process actually began long before that, as it does with most types of hunting for the more dedicated practitioners. It might have started with poring over topo maps – or more likely Google Earth – for potential hunting locations. Next is seeking the landowner’s identity, followed by their permission, a process that could take minutes, days or even weeks. With that done, it’s time for some boots-on-the-ground scouting to hone down specific stand sites. ~ Bob Humphrey
Column: DNA technology gives us new insights into taxonomy
Maine Sunday Telegram - Sunday, August 20, 2017 

Humans have a penchant for organizing. We like order. This need for organization certainly drove Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish naturalist, to publish the first catalog of life, the Systema Naturae, in 1735. He devised the framework we still use in our taxonomy. Taxonomists do have methods for defining a species. The problem is that there is more than one method, and the different approaches do not always get to the same conclusion. ~ Herb Wilson
Don’t Miss the Evening for the Environment
George Smith BDN Outdoor News Blog - Saturday, August 19, 2017 

The Maine Conservation Voters will host their annual Evening for the Environment on Wednesday, October 25, from 5:30 pm to 8 pm at Brick South, Thompson’s Point, Portland. This year’s keynote speaker is Brian Deese, a Senior Advisor to former President Obama who oversaw climate, conservation, and energy policies. I am also very honored to be receiving an award that night, the MCV’s 2017 Environmental Leadership Award.
Removing mercury from Penobscot River likely won’t be easy
Bangor Daily News - Saturday, August 19, 2017 

Exactly how does someone clean toxic mercury deposits out of a section of a tidal river more than 30 miles long? That’s the main question a federal judge is expected to decide next year as part of a court-ordered cleanup of mercury dumped over decades into the Penobscot River, by operators of the former HoltraChem chemical plant in Orrington. But any cleanup effort will likely include leaving some mercury in the river since removing it altogether could be too complicated and expensive.
Rollback of stream rules greeted with cheers, jeers
Portland Press Herald - Saturday, August 19, 2017 

The Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have proposed dropping an Obama administration policy that protected many tributaries, intermittent streams and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. The June 2015 policy sought to clarify the scope of the 1972 Clean Water Act – a legacy of Maine’s late Sen. Edmund Muskie – after years of debate and conflicting court opinions over the regulation of pollution and discharges into smaller waterways. But courts suspended the Clean Water Rule and President Trump directed the EPA to begin the regulatory process to dismantle rules. Maine agriculture groups and conservation organizations were on opposite sides of the Obama administration regulations – and still are. The EPA is accepting public comments on the proposal through Aug. 28.
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