Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Bill Blevins / Flickr

Brunswick has been a hotbed of activity for rabies in Maine this summer.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust

Less than one percent of Maine's coastline offers guaranteed public access. It's a near-historic low that the Maine Coast Heritage Trust wants to reverse.

Ida Kinner / Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences

A Maine-based scientist is leading an international expedition of some 40 researchers to the top of the world, where they will explore the poorly understood dynamics of Arctic weather in an era of rapid warming. The scientists want to test whether processes now underway might serve to slow global warming, at least a bit.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

After a spill of more than 1.5 million gallons of partially-treated wastewater into Casco Bay last week, a report on the incident from Portland Water District says human error was to blame.

The report also says that there weren't any alarms on the tanks that would have indicated they were getting close to overflowing. Scott Firmin is the director of Wastewater Service for the Water District. He says the tanks weren't alarmed because they're regularly cleaned to prevent buildup of material on the bottom.


Brunswick-area residents are being warned to steer clear of wild animals acting oddly after six separate fox attacks within the past six weeks.

Several foxes have been confirmed rabid. In the meantime, several state agencies are collaborating on a plan to target raccoons by distributing more than 350,000 baits laced with oral rabies vaccine throughout northern and eastern Maine.

Willis Ryder Arnold / Maine Public

The Peaks to Portland fundraising swim will go on as scheduled Saturday.

On Thursday about one million gallons of partially-treated sewage from the city's wastewater treatment plant spilled into Casco Bay.

Dave Madore of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection says the primary concern is bacteria in the water.

“The cove itself has a high dilution rate, so with one time behind it, a lot of that is going to move out and away. It may take some time for that to actually move out,” says Madore.

Downeast Salmon Federation

A biologist for the Downeast Salmon Federation is monitoring what he says is another sizeable fish kill on the Union River below a Brookfield Asset Management dam in Ellsworth.

Fisheries biologist Brett Ciccotelli says that he was alerted to the fish kill Friday afternoon and arrived to find hundreds of dead and dying baby alewives, also known as river herring, near the bottom of the Leonard Lake Dam.

Julia Bayly / BDN

For the third year in a row, most of Maine is abnormally dry.

The Maine Emergency Officials says Washington County is the one exception, but that may soon change.

National Weather Service Hydrologist Tom Hawley, in Gray, says it appears that Maine will start to see more rainfall over the next four weeks or so.

“We're hoping that this forecast for above normal precipitation over the next four weeks will verify, and help us to slowly get out of this very dry period.”

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

They're big, they're wide — and they’re definitely not your grandfather’s all terrain vehicles. 

Hot Weather Is Baking Aroostook County Crops

Jul 25, 2018
Julia Bayly / BDN

Amanda Mathieu has spent the past week or so lugging 30-gallon buckets of water to her strawberry field in an attempt to save some of this year’s crop.

“The berries are literally cooking in the field, Mathieu said Tuesday afternoon from her Mathieu Berry Farm in Grand Isle. “We have a 300-gallon rain barrel [in the fields] that is full after the winter and we never usually go through it, but this year we emptied it.”

Mathieu is not alone.

Trapping Effort Shows Wild Salmon Are Thriving In East Outlet Of Kennebec River

Jul 23, 2018
John Holyoke / BDN

Madison Killian says she uses a pretty simple technique when she’s netting the frisky landlocked salmon that she and her colleagues have trapped in the fishway of the East Outlet Dam.

“You stay kind of cautious and still for a little bit, then you go in and snipe ’em and net ’em right up,” the seasonal fisheries assistant for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife said. “They will swim away. It’s more luck than anything. They like to try to hide under the fyke.”

Robert F. Bukaty / Maine Public

Maine fishery managers are awarding $340,000 in grants for programs designed to better understand the state’s signature crustacean, the lobster.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources says that it’s awarding the money in the form of six grants from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Fund. The fund gets money from the sale of lobster license plates.

Five of the six awards are going to proposals submitted by University of Maine researchers. Three are going to UMaine marine science professor Yong Chen.

Scientists in Maine are investigating the death of a 24-foot Minke whale that washed ashore over the weekend.

Marine Mammals of Maine Director Lynda Doughty tells WGME-TV the dead whale that was found in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday morning had previously been spotted floating in Casco Bay. Doughty says there's no obvious cause of death, but that samples were collected from the whale.

Warm weather and water temperatures accelerated the whale's decomposition.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public File

Did your parents ever order you to “just go play outside”? Studies show that kids are spending less time outdoors — far less than their parents and grandparents did.

Scientists no longer have to collect poop to get key data on the health of endangered right whales.

A new study indicates that under the right conditions, scientists can quickly obtain hormonal data by collecting the spray from whales' blowholes at sea.

The study by scientists with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium was published Tuesday in the journal, Scientific Reports. The team used a boat with long poles to capture 100 blow samples from 46 right whales.