March 19, 2019  
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Maine Environmental News
Action Alert - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Thanks for visiting Maine Environmental News, a service of RESTORE: The North Woods. MEN is the most comprehensive online source available for links to conservation and natural resource news and events in Maine (and a bit beyond). We have posted summaries and links to 60,000 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
Urge Maine's Agencies to Investigate and Halt PFAS Contamination
Action Alert - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Highly persistent and toxic chemicals known as PFAS may be lurking undiscovered in farmlands across Maine. State records show that at an Arundel dairy farm, PFOS was in milk at the highest level ever reported anywhere. Urge Maine Ag and DEP commissioners to test the fields, stop sludge spreading, and phase out PFAS products. ~ Environmental Health Strategy Center
Retired Game Warden Randall Probert, Mar 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Author, raconteur, and retired game warden Randall Probert will speak to the Hebron Historical Society on “Maine Tales and More.” At Hebron Town Office, March 26, 7 pm.
The Forests of Lilliput: The Miniature World of Lichens & Mosses, Mar 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Maine Master Naturalist Jeff Pengel talks about the natural history of lichens, mosses and similar plants. At Topsham Library, March 26, 6 pm. Sponsored by Cathance River Education Alliance.
Celebrating Maine’s Wild Creatures, Mar 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Speaker: Ed Robinson, author of “Nature Notes from Maine: River Otters, Moose, Skunks and More.” At Curtis Library, March 16, 7 pm. Sponsored by Merrymeeting Audubon.
Ocean Acidification, Climate Change, and You, Mar 25
Event - Posted - Monday, March 18, 2019 

Friends of Casco Bay staff scientist Mike Doan talks about warning signs and Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca shares the impacts to marine species and how Mainers are responding. At Southern Maine Community College, South Portland, March 25, 5:30 pm.
Mount Pisgah winter trek, Mar 24
Event - Posted - Sunday, March 17, 2019 

Kennebec Land Trust Stewardship Director Jean-Luc Theriault will lead an off-trail excursion on Mount Pisgah to visit special places that are typically less accessible. Meet at the Mount Pisgah Community Conservation Area parking lot in Winthrop, March 24, 1 pm.
Winter Family Fun Day at Lily Bay State Park, Mar 23
Event - Posted - Saturday, March 16, 2019 

Ice fishing, snowmobile tote rides, winter camping demo, bonfire, scavenger hunt and free loan of cross-country skis, snowshoes, ice skates, snow tubes and sleds. At Lily Bay State Park, Moosehead Lake, March 23, 10 am - 3 pm.
Winter wildlife tracking workshop, Mar 23
Event - Posted - Saturday, March 16, 2019 

Naturalists and certified wildlife trackers Brendan White and Matt Dickinson lead a winter wildlife tracking workshop. At at Long Ledges Preserve, Sullivan, March 23, 9-11:30 am. Sponsored by Frenchman Bay Conservancy.
Maine Grass Farmers Network Conference, Mar 23
Event - Posted - Saturday, March 16, 2019 

Livestock producers are invited to learn about grass-based production and how grazing systems can become more profitable and environmentally sound. At Kennebec County Community College's Alfond Campus, Hinckley, March 23, 8:30 am - 3 pm.
Maine becomes a state, Mar 15
Announcement - Friday, March 15, 2019 

On this day in 1820, March 15, Massachusetts lost over 30,000 square miles of land as its former province of Maine gained statehood. Mainers had begun campaigning for statehood for years following the Revolution. The Massachusetts legislature finally consented in 1819. What no one foresaw, however, was that Maine's quest for statehood would become entangled in the most divisive issue in American history — slavery.
Maine Land Conservation Conference, Apr 5-6
Event - Posted - Friday, March 15, 2019 

Maine’s robust land conservation community comes together to train on best practices in all aspects of land trust work, connect with peers, and grapple with the most pressing issues facing land conservation today. At Topsham area, April 5-6.
Thoreau Society & Thoreau Farm Trust online auction, thru Mar 29
Announcement - Friday, March 15, 2019 

This auction contains many rare books written about Henry David Thoreau and other items for every Thoreauvian.
MITA Open House and Getch Celebration, Mar 22
Event - Posted - Friday, March 15, 2019 

Toast the extraordinary life of MITA founder Dave Getchell, Sr. At Maine Island Trail Association, Portland, March 22, 5:30-7:30 pm.
Call for Artists: Paint for Preservation 2019
Announcement - Friday, March 15, 2019 

The Cape Elizabeth Land Trust is accepting artist submissions for Paint for Preservation 2019, the organization’s twelfth annual juried Wet Paint Auction and one of Maine’s premiere art auction events. This 3-day (June 28-30) plein air event raises money for land conservation in Cape Elizabeth. Deadline is March 22.
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News Items
International students bundled up to go ice fishing, but they didn’t catch any fish. Instead, they ate hot dogs.
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

As the wind roared down Perch Pond on Wednesday, a hardy group of international students from Orono High School bundled up and learned about a traditional Maine activity: Ice fishing. No fish were caught and while the students got a good look at a traditional Maine activity, they did not receive an entirely authentic Pine Tree State experience. When Mackenzie Hanson, the director of the Orono High School international program, pulled out a package of hot dogs for the students to roast over a roaring campfire, each grabbed a dog or two, found a stick, and went to work.
A global restaurant group sided with Maine fishermen in their battle with a luxury resort developer
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Luke’s Lobster, a restaurant group with more than 40 locations founded by Cape Elizabeth native Luke Holden, has taken over operation of the historic Sea Pier on the east side of Boothbay Harbor. The pier, since renamed Carter’s Wharf, was purchased by the Boothbay Region Maritime Foundation with the intent to maintain it as a commercial fishing wharf. Luke’s Lobster will buy all of the catch, which will be served to its customers. Southport developer Paul Coulombe has proposed rezoning the east side of the harbor into a limited commercial district, which would allow hotels, recreational marinas and housing. But Coulombe has pulled his proposal to purchase Cap’n Fish motel and restaurant, just up the road from the Sea Pier, after the Board of Selectmen hired an independent planner to weigh in on the proposed rezoning.
Bar Harbor has turned its attention to vacation rentals amid affordable housing crisis
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Years after its restrictions on short-term vacation rentals caused legal trouble for Bar Harbor, the town is wading back into the question of how it can balance tourists’ demand for short-term rentals with the need for affordable housing for full-time and seasonal residents. A consultant recently found that property owners market at least a fifth of the town’s housing stock on short-term rental websites, and workers at The Jackson Laboratory and in the town’s sizable seasonal tourist sector frequently encounter a lack of affordable housing. The town is taking steps to get a handle on the vacation rental issue.
What to know about Maine’s upcoming bicentennial celebration
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Preparations for Maine’s bicentennial year are already well underway. A Tricentennial Pine Grove would take place in 2020, and would encourage any municipality, business, school or organization to plant a minimum of three eastern white pine trees on its property. By 2120, those trees planted in 2020 would be about the same size as the trees first encountered by the first European settlers to Maine in the 17th century.
Easy ways to ditch plastic in your garden
Bangor Daily News - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Plastic takes hundreds of years to degrade, and most of it does not even make it to the recycling bin. A 2017 study showed that of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic ever created, only 9 percent has even been recycled. The majority — about 5 billion metric tons — is languishes in landfills or litters the natural environment. The same study predicts that by 2050, 12 billion metric tons of plastic will be in the world’s landfills. With a little careful planning, you can go completely plastic-free in your garden:
• Replace your plastic pots
• Switch your hose for a watering can
• Buy compost in bulk (or make your own)
• Consider cardboard weed suppressants
• Make your own labels
• Buy metal or wooden tools
Opinion: Maine farms have key role to play in combating climate change
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

Many people understand that woodland can sequester carbon, yet don’t realize how beneficial well-managed farmland can be. In Maine Farms, the journal of Maine Farmland Trust, three years ago I wrote, “Farming…has the potential to help mitigate climate change….The right farming practices applied in the right places can make a real difference.” I now have a deeper understanding of the role agriculture can and must play: First, agriculture can reduce its own greenhouse-gas emissions. Second, farmland can sequester vast amounts of carbon. Lastly, farmland that remains in farming can prevent higher future emissions. In all these areas, Maine has a key role to play. ~ John Piotti, president of American Farmland Trust and past president of Maine Farmland Trust
Letter: Carbon-dividend bill will help move the needle on climate change
Portland Press Herald - Thursday, March 7, 2019 

I thank Gov. Mills for insisting on urgent climate action. Decisive and effective action that is good for people is now within reach with the introduction of the bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 763) in the U.S. Congress. The bill provides a cash “carbon dividend” to be distributed to all American households every month. The dividend is funded by an emissions pollution fee charged to oil, coal and gas companies. Please ask Congress to act on climate. Join your local chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Call on Rep. Chellie Pingree to support HR 763 and ask Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to introduce a similar bill in the U.S. Senate. ~ Liana Wolk, Portland
Western Maine woman takes Outdoor Channel’s reality TV challenge
Sun Journal - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

After competing in more than 25 extreme adventure races, Tracyn Thayer figured she’d collectively spent a year’s worth of nights in the woods. But not like this. Last summer, the 49-year-old joined nine strangers trekking 750 miles through the Canadian woods, through whitewater and over mountains, for the new Outdoor Channel reality show “The Brigade: Race to the Hudson.” The goal: Reach the finish line in 28 days and they split half a million dollars. Thayer lives in Mason Township with two sons and works part-time at Sunday River Resort in Newry. How many reached the finish line — or even if any reached the finish line — won’t be clear until the show debuts April 22.
Birds of a Feather — Why Crows Congregate in Winter
Maine Public - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

This time of year, there's an evening spectacle taking place in tree tops in cities, towns and around the countryside. Hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of crows are congregating in winter roosts. Many of them are local birds that will go on to raise extended families in suburban backyards and nearby woodlots. Others are migrants from as far away as Canada who will return home once spring arrives to stay. Either way, the crows create an impressive sight and sound around Lewiston and Auburn. Doug Hitchcox, a staff naturalist with Maine Audubon, says the crows aren't gathering for any nefarious reason. They do it, scientists believe, to stave off predators like the Great Horned Owl, stay warm, look for mates and possibly share some news.

Maine lawmakers end the flap over Maine’s state bird
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

The Maine state bird will remain the chickadee – not the boreal chickadee or the black-capped chickadee or any other specific species of chickadee, just “the chickadee.” A bill brought to the Maine Legislature by fourth-graders at Margaret Chase Smith School in Skowhegan that would have clearly identified which species of chickadee is Maine’s state bird was killed Wednesday by the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government in its work session by a unanimous 10-0 vote. Only two members of the public testified in favor of the bill, including Nick Lund of Maine Audubon, who asked that the committee consider giving Maine its own state bird rather than have people assume it shares the black-capped chickadee with Massachusetts.
Coalition to study Greater Portland transit, with eye to the future
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Transit officials in Greater Portland are kicking off a study of the region’s bus, rail and ferry services to guide transportation planning for the next three decades. The study, called Transit Tomorrow, will involve housing agency officials and developers to help make sure that transit plans can be adjusted to accommodate growth in the region.
Mills forms task force to study impact of ‘forever chemicals’ in Maine
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order Wednesday that creates a task force to determine the scope of contamination in Maine from a chemical compound linked to cancer and other health problems. The chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, were used for decades in nonstick cookware, stain-resistant carpeting, food packaging and firefighting foam. There is growing concern about drinking-water contamination – particularly near military bases – from a long-lasting chemical that accumulates in the body over time. Maine has several known PFAS contamination sites, including the former Brunswick Naval Air Station and in a source well for a York County water district. But there are likely other sites.
Twin Rivers names new CEO, board chair
Fiddlehead Focus (St. John Valley, Aroostook County) - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Twin Rivers Paper Co. on Friday named Ken Winterhalter its new chief executive officer. Winterhalter, the company’s current president, succeeds Robert Snyder, who has transitioned to chairman of the board. “While so many paper companies across Maine — and throughout the country — have closed their doors and lost thousands of jobs, we continue not only to survive, but thrive,” Winterhalter said in an email. Today, Twin Rivers employs more than 1,000 people, owning and operating six paper mills, two pulp mills, a sawmill and a co-generation plant in the U.S. and Canada.
Opinion: Conservation is a Maine value our lawmakers must uphold
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Demonstrating a value for conservation and common sense, Maine’s congressional delegation voted to approve a bipartisan bill that will protect more than 2 million acres of wild public lands across the U.S. and permanently reauthorize the historic Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired last fall. On another vote, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King wisely opposed the confirmation of Andrew Wheeler as director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, Wheeler was confirmed. He supports policies that are favorable to coal burning energy and mercury pollution in the air and greenhouse gases that worsen climate change. Another crucial vote looms: the nomination of David Bernhardt as Secretary of Interior, the agency that oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public land across the nation. The U.S. Senate should not confirm Bernhardt. ~ Jeremy Sheaffer, The Wilderness Society, Hallowell
Regulators to approve Seabrook nuclear plant’s license extension
Associated Press - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it plans to approve a license extension for New Hampshire’s Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant next week. Regulators made the announcement Tuesday after holding another public hearing on concerns they were moving too quickly to approve the extension through 2050. Some people want the license extension delayed until a hearing this summer on how cracks that have formed the plant’s concrete foundations have been evaluated.
1985 West Branch Big A Dam Controversy
Other - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Plans for a proposed dam by Great Northern Paper Company at Big Ambejackmockamus Falls on the West Branch of the Penobscot River were ultimately dropped by the company. [video]
Aging Sentinels: the roadside maples of Maine
Forests for Maine's Future - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Giant sugar maples are New England’s signature trees, now that most of the old elms are gone. Sometimes they are blackened from a lightning strike, hollowed out by rot, or with a crown snapped out. But still alive. Many people, wanting to keep the giants around as long as possible, invest in pruning of dead limbs, cabling up weak ones and other extreme measures to prolong the tree’s life. But many experts say that, depending on how serious the tree’s decline is, you’re probably better off planting a new one.
State To Review Bid For Solar Panels At Governor's Mansion
Associated Press - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

One company has submitted a bid to install solar panels on the grounds of the Maine governor's mansion. Maine's Division of Procurement Services said Tuesday that a team will now review Maine-based solar company ReVision Energy's proposal. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills hopes to complete the installation this year in a demonstration of her commitment to renewable energy.
Maine Senators Want A Bump In Work Visas Due To Tight Market
Associated Press - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Maine's U.S. senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, are asking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to bump the number of H-2B visas. Those are the visas for temporary non-agricultural workers. Collins and King say the increase is necessary because of the tight labor market, which is making it difficult for businesses to fill seasonal job openings. They want the department to increase the 66,000 cap on the visas to more than 135,000. The senators say the increase is especially important for states that depend on the tourism sector, such as Maine.
Discord among opponents adds complex twist to CMP corridor debate
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

A coalition fighting Central Maine Power’s proposed $1 billion energy corridor from Quebec to Massachusetts through western Maine rankled proponents last month by rolling out a political-style ad that hit Mills for a “backroom deal” with CMP. After that, two groups in the coalition that still oppose the corridor sent letters to the Democratic governor signaling regret for the ad and at least one group left it. Groups in the coalition haven’t dropped their opposition to the project, but the ad signaled a change in the structure of their campaign. Opposition to the corridor is still fierce and the discord underlines how groups that oppose it still want to work with Mills on climate issues.
Aroostook County town still sees potential for biomass after plant announces shutdown
Fiddlehead Focus (St. John Valley, Aroostook County) - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Despite ReEnergy’s plans to close Aroostook County’s last biomass plant this April, economic development leaders in the Ashland area are hopeful that a biomass plant could be a part of the region’s future. “It’s a devastating blow,” said Don Tardie, chairman of the Ashland Area Economic Development Committee, of ReEnergy’s plans to shut down the 39 megawatt biomass plant. “It basically upsets the whole integration we had in our working forests for northern Maine,” Tardie said. “Northern Maine’s plants have a future if we could convert them to combined heat and power.”
Column: Reform ballot referendum process
Kennebec Journal - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Our ballot referendum process desperately needs reform. Well-financed out-of-state groups have taken over, finding it easy to get their bad ideas on our ballot. But there is an easy fix. Require a percentage of the required signatures to come from each county, based on that county’s percentage of our population. And prohibit paying signature gatherers. There is no need to limit the initiatives available to the people of Maine, if they go with my suggestions. ~ George Smith
Maine farmers are taking extreme measures to protect their farms for future generations
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Maine Farmland Trust has protected over 60,000 acres of farmland in Maine through the creation of agricultural conservation easements. They now hold easements on land in every single county, and they support farmers through a variety of programs, such as services to assist in farm business planning. “If we don’t have land to feed ourselves, people are going to go hungry,” Andrew Sevey, owner of Broadcrest Farm in Ripley, said. “We would be totally reliant on food being transported in here from different parts of the country.”
Your doctor’s office may soon be less germy because of a Maine paper mill
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Sappi, once synonymous only with large forests and paper mills, during the past 30 years has turned its expertise with wood to the fashion runways and even doctors’ offices. At its Westbrook Technology Center, scientists research, test and manufacture textured paper products that can be used to embellish designer handbags, running shoes, wood veneer, privacy filters for windows and even imitation leather for cars. More recently, Sappi’s texturing expertise is being tested in the medical world to create surfaces with miniscule textures on them. Potential uses are in doctors’ offices and in ambulances. The physical structure of the surfaces inhibits microbial growth without requiring chemicals.
Letter: CMP project bad for future Mainers
Morning Sentinel - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

We do not have the right to take away from future generations the opportunity to experience the natural world in the same way that we have had. We are obligated to vigorously demand a more energetic development of the free resources of wind, sun and tide to produce the clean energy we need. We need to urge our governor to think again about what we will lose if we agree to the clean energy connect. Every child born after this will never know how beautiful “it used to be.” ~ Joan Farnsworth, Skowhegan
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