Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) / via Associated Press

A team of researchers at the University of Maine has been awarded more than $1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to try to help protect forest workers from tick-borne diseases, such as lyme disease.

UMaine School of Forestry Resources Professor Jessica Leahy says the money will be used to study land management practices that in turn affect forest conditions conducive to higher tick populations.

New England environmentalists are speaking out against proposed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the federal law that has regulated fisheries in the U.S. since 1976.  

But the environmental advocacy nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation says a bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would create loopholes in the law.

The foundation's Jennifer Felt says the group is against the bill because it would allow catch limits to be set without using scientific data and would weaken requirements for rebuilding overfished species.

CONCORD, N.H. - A drought-tracking service says that dry conditions are expanding across the Northeast due to warmer than average temperatures.

Heavy rain is making its way through much of northern New England.

The National Weather Service says there's a flash flood watch in effect from Tuesday afternoon through the evening for the area of York, Maine, and in much of southeastern New Hampshire.

Storms were moving through the region Tuesday.

Updated 1:56 p.m.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

BIDDEFORD, Maine  - The invasive green crabs that cause havoc in coastal New England ecosystems might soon become more aggressive.

Travel to an island with popular trails near Portland has reopened three days after a powerful storm knocked down trees and power lines.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Mackworth Island welcomed visitors Friday when the causeway reopened, but people were warned that repairs on the island are ongoing.

The storm on Tuesday knocked out power to 3,000 customers in Portland. In Falmouth, telephone poles leaned over the causeway road to Mackworth Island.

Courtesy University of Maine

A ban on the movement of ash in northern Maine is imminent, in the wake of the discovery of the invasive emerald ash borer in the region earlier this year.

Officials with the Maine Forest Service say they're working on an emergency order that's expected to be issued within the next two weeks. That order could be followed by additional state and federal quarantines, officials say.

PORTLAND, Maine - A thunderstorm has knocked down trees and damaged some homes in parts of Maine and New Hampshire.
Tuesday night's storm brought wind gusts up to 60 mph and hail. Trees and power lines were brought down.
Nearly 4,000 customers in Maine were without power at one point, most of them in Portland.
In New Hampshire, damage such as trees falling on houses and overturned boats was reported in Northwood, Andover, and other towns.

PORTLAND, Maine - The state of Maine is locked in a legal battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a pair of American Indian tribes about the way clean water standards apply in and around tribal lands.
Maine is arguing in the lawsuit that the EPA is imposing heightened water quality standards in the tribal areas.
The state argues an EPA decision about the subject should be vacated because it exceeds the agency's authority and is not based on scientific evidence.

UNITY, Maine - One of the biggest and oldest state-level organic growing associations in the country has a new executive director who will start next month.
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association says its new head will be Sarah Alexander, who will take over for the retiring Ted Quaday. The group says Alexander lives in Portland and has worked as a sustainable food systems advocate for more than 15 years.

Several environmental groups have written a letter demanding that the town of Yarmouth and a mill owner fix a broken fish ladder at a dam on the Royal River.

The Conservation Law Foundation had previously filed a notice of intent to sue the town and the mill owner over the issue.

Sean Mahoney of CLF told the Portland Press Herald that the old dams are keeping the Royal River from being fully restored for recreation and for the return of critical keystone fish.

Northern New England is about to get a break from the heat and humidity,  but not before another day with heat indices inching toward 100.

Tom Hawley from the National Weather Service said Thursday will mark the seventh consecutive day that the temperature has hit 90 or higher in Concord, New Hampshire. That's the longest stretch in 17 years.

The Fourth of July was a sizzler, too. Portland, Maine, hit 93 degrees for a record for the date. In Vermont, an all-time record high was tied on Mount Mansfield, the state's tallest peak, at 84 degrees.

Federal ocean managers will implement a protected zone off the coast of Massachusetts until the middle of the month to try to help endangered whales.

The protected area is located south of Nantucket and is designed to protect North Atlantic right whales. The whales are among the most endangered marine mammals, and they have suffered from high mortality and low reproduction in recent years.

Maine State Parks Face Lifeguard Shortage

Jul 4, 2018
Mark Brennan / Flickr

State parks in Maine are again dealing with a shortage of lifeguards.

John Bott, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, says that although parks began recruiting last fall, there are still open lifeguard positions, especially in southern Maine.

Lifeguards employed by the state this summer will make $11.09 an hour. But Bott says state parks, which set wages according to state employment regulations, cannot compete with the private sector by increasing pay to attract lifeguards.

Maine Issues Air Quality Alert As Hot, Sticky Weather Persists

Jul 3, 2018
Emily Burnham / Bangor Daily News

An air quality alert has been issued in advance of a scorching Tuesday forecast that could see elevated ozone levels along the Maine coast.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection warns that an expected increase in the concentration of ozone levels along the coast Tuesday will put people at risk, especially those who already are sensitive to air pollutants.