Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

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State forestry officials want people to know why many white pines in Maine, and throughout the Northeast, have turned yellow and brown and lost a lot of needles over the past two to three weeks.  

The culprit is White Pine Needle Disease, which is caused by one of several needle fungi.  Maine Forest Service Pathologist Bill Ostrofky says needles that come out in early June are infected, but don't drop off until the next growing season.   

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ State forestry and entomology experts say a fungal disease affecting white pines is growing worse.

William Ostrofsky, forest pathologist for the Maine Forest Service, said Wednesday that white pine needle disease, possibly exacerbated by above-average rainfall, has reached epidemic proportions in Maine, mostly in southwestern and central-western parts of the state.

Canadian Officials Search for Injured Whale

Jul 2, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Canadian fishery officials are searching for a badly injured North Atlantic right whale that appears to be entangled in fishing lines.

North Atlantic right whales are severely endangered, with the population believed to be about 400. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada began an aerial search for the injured whale on Tuesday.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials spotted the whale on Sunday entangled in multiple fishing lines and in poor condition.

Smilla 4 / Creative Commons

An analysis by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission finds that American eel stocks are being depleted.  The group was in the state today, taking testimony on ways to preserve the species over the long term. But Elver fishermen and dealers say strict measures like additional quotas aren't needed to protect eels along the eastern seaboard.

Courtesy Friends of Acadia

Marissa Gray of Mount Desert Island stepped off an Acadia National Parks Island Explorer Bus to discover that she was the system's 5 millionth passenger.

Park representatives, along with officials with retailer L.L. Bean, the Maine Department of Transportation, the group Friends of Acadia, and Downeast Transportation presented Gray with a goodie bag and an L.L. Bean gift card, along with a membership to Friends of Acadia.

Calling all swimmers! Here's how to coexist with our gelatinous friends.

North Atlantic right whale breaching in Cape Cod Bay, May 2009.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia/WDC

A new rule designed to reduce whale deaths from fishing gear entanglement has been finalized and published in the Federal Register.
 

  The National Marine Fisheries Service rule seeks to limit the number of ropes connecting lobster traps with their marker buoys which float on the surface. Conservation groups say marine mammals, including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, can become entangled in these floating, vertical lines and drown.

A beach in Maine during summer.
MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ Maine environmental protection officials say the number of samples that tested positive for fecal bacteria at the state's beaches rose slightly from 2012 to 2013.
 

Volunteers, municipal and state officials test samples from Maine beaches for enterococcus bacteria, which indicates fecal contamination from humans and animals. Officials say the number of times the limit was exceeded rose from 156 in 2012 to 176 in 2013. Nearly 85 percent of those instances happened after a rainfall.

King Speaks About Melting Sea Ice

Jun 29, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP)     Sen. Angus King of Maine says the melting polar ice cap represents an opportunity for U.S. security, economic and diplomatic interests.

Herring Thrive After Dam Removal

Jun 28, 2014

 AUGUSTA, Maine (AP)    Environmentalists say the removal of the Edwards Dam in Augusta and Fort Halifax Dam in Winslow has allowed river herring populations to prosper in the Kennebec River.

Marine scientists and representatives from the state gathered along the waterfront in Portland on Friday to announce a sixteen member panel, chosen to tackle what they say is a growing problem for shellfish producers: ocean acidification. 

Following Portland's recently passed plastics ordinance, the town of Kennebunk may be the next to impose a fee on the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags provided by retailers.   But Kennebunk would be taking a slightly different approach.  On advice from the Board of Selectman, the town's Energy Efficiency Committee will draft language for a non-binding resolution that could go to voters in the fall, if approved by the board.

PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, environmentalists and fishermen will gather on Portland's waterfront to discuss the impact of ocean acidification on the Gulf of Maine.

Pingree and others will hold a news conference at 1:30 p.m. Friday behind the Pierce Atwood building off of Commercial Street. Pingree backs a bill in Congress she says would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to identify communities that have a "high economic dependency" on ocean resources and how ocean acidification would affect them.

Federal fisheries regulators have announced measures intended to reduce the number of large whales getting entangled in fishing gear along the Atlantic seaboard.

In the Northeast, the measures include increasing the number of lobster traps hooked to each trawl line that fishing vessels release into the water. The aim is to reduce the number of vertical lines in places where whales are most abundant, and fishing activity is highest.

Other areas, including the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast, face different whale-protecting requirements.

BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) _ A group of Bar Harbor, Maine whale watchers took the Save The Whales slogan to heart.
 
    The group of 200 whale watchers helped release a humpback whale that was entangled in fishing gear near the entrance to the Bay of Fundy on June 10. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports the whale watchers and on-board naturalists alerted the Canadian Coast Guard about the distressed animal. NOAA says the whale watchers were also able to provide whale biologists with information about what they could do to help the whale.
 

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