March 23, 2019  
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Maine Environmental News
Action Alert - Saturday, March 23, 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
Maine State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan Survey
Action Alert - Saturday, March 23, 2019 

Every five years, Maine submits a SCORP plan to the National Park Service to meet planning requirements for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Since its inception in 1966, LWCF has injected $43 million into non-federal projects in Maine. The Maine Bureau of Parks & Lands wants to know what outdoors activities you engage in, and what you see as priorities for the future. To make your voice heard, take the Maine SCORP Survey:
Earth Hour, Mar 30
Action Alert - Saturday, March 23, 2019 

Join millions around the world to turn off the lights and speak up about why nature matters. March 30, 8:30-9:30 pm.
Hermit Island Hike, Mar 30
Event - Posted - Saturday, March 23, 2019 

Hike a mix of sandy beaches, cliffs, shore trails, woods walk and camp roads. At Hermit Island Campground, Phippsburg, March 30. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club.
MCHT looking for volunteers to mentor kids
Announcement - Friday, March 22, 2019 

Maine Coast Heritage Trust invites the public to volunteer orientation for individuals interested in mentoring families participating in a Kids Can Grow program at MCHT's Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport. The orientation will be at MCHT's Aldermen Farm, Rockport, April 6, 4-5 pm.
Managing Forests for Bird Habitat, Mar 29
Event - Posted - Friday, March 22, 2019 

Dr. Sally Stockwell, Maine Audubon conservation director, will speak about “Managing Forests for Bird Habitat.” At Keith Anderson Community House, Orono, March 29, 6:30 p.m. Sponsored by Orono Land Trust.
Solo thru-paddling the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Mar 28
Event - Posted - Thursday, March 21, 2019 

Laurie Chandler describes her 2015 solo thru-paddle of the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail. At Curtis Library, Brunswick, March 28, 7 pm. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club.
Interactions Among Plants & Insects, March 28
Event - Posted - Thursday, March 21, 2019 

Maine Master Naturalist Roger Rittmaster presents. At Ladd Center, Wayne, March 28, 7 pm. Sponsored by Kennebec Land Trust.
Why Going Native Matters, Mar 27
Event - Posted - Wednesday, March 20, 2019 

Heather McCargo, found and executive director of Wild Seed Project, presents "Why Going Native Matters: Beauty, Biodiversity and Resilience." At Portland Public Library, March 27, 5:30 pm.
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
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, Mar 26
Event - Posted - Tuesday, March 19, 2019 

Film followed by a discussion led by Brie Berry, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology and environmental policy. Part of a Human Dimensions of Climate Change film series. At Fogler Library, UMaine, Orono, March 26, 6 pm.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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News Items
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: Carbon fee and dividend should be federal policy
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Carbon pricing, a policy endorsed by scientists and economists, is an effective way to reduce dangerous greenhouse-gas production. It does not need to work through a tax. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 would apply a carbon fee at the source of production, then distribute this money directly back to all Americans in the form of a monthly dividend check. Farmers, fishermen and the military are exempt from the fee. The money received by low-income families would outweigh the additional cost at the pump. The bill adds no money to government coffers and acts as a signal to businesses to innovate toward a greener future, which is why it has significant bipartisan support. ~ Nina Trowbridge, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Cape Elizabeth
Letter: CMP’s money sways Gov. Mills into supporting transmission line plan
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, March 6, 2019 

Gov. Mills has come out in support of Central Maine Power’s New England Clean Energy Connect project. One, during the campaign, Janet Mills stated, “Until CMP demonstrates that their transmission line proposal offers concrete and long-term benefits to the people of Maine...I have very serious questions about the proposal.” Mills flipped after a backroom meeting with CMP. Two, Gov. Mills states that “we cannot afford to do nothing” in regard to our carbon emissions. There will be no global net decrease in carbon emissions; there will be an increase once 2,000 acres of Maine have been clear-cut. Three, Vermont has all the permits lined up for this project. CMP and Gov. Mills want to run it through Maine because Vermont will require them to bury the cable. This is not about the environment – this is all about profit. ~ Joseph Cousins, Glenburn
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
Reports find value in conserved land, and urge more protection
Working Waterfront - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 

Since the Land for Maine’s Future program was created in 1987, protected acreage has increased, according to the Maine Land Conservation Task Force report, released March 5. Much of this conservation is in the form of easements. While acknowledging this success, the task force, found “a pressing need for revitalizing land conservation in Maine and ensuring that it meets the future needs of Maine people.” In the current session, the legislature will consider a proposal to borrow $75 million for the LMF fund, and $20 million to pay for back maintenance at state parks. Additional bills would strengthen Maine’s landowner relations program so the state’s tradition of public access to private lands continues as property ownership changes.
From Egyptian Tombs to Toxic Corn, There’s More to Environmental Art Than What You See
Other - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 

A sweeping exhibition of 2,000 years of artworks at Bowdoin College in Maine challenges viewers to reconsider the relationship between art and nature. “Material Resources: Intersections of Art and the Environment” is on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine, through June 2.
Pew Launches Efforts to Protect, Restore Oyster and Seagrass Habitats
Other - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 

Over the past decade, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ U.S. marine conservation team has advocated for an ecosystem-based perspective in fisheries management—one founded on science and on advancing the public interest. One native Atlantic species, the eastern oyster, helps illustrate the problem and the opportunity. Oysters and their reefs are a foundation of estuarine ecosystems, where they improve water quality, provide habitat for other species, stabilize shorelines, and reduce erosion. While the population is estimated at under 10 percent of its historic size from Maine to Florida, a rebound is possible, with some states showing progress in recovering oysters in recent years.
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