Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ A team of American and Canadian scientists is about to depart on a two-week study of deep-sea corals in the canyons in the northern Gulf of Maine.
    Martha Nizinski of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Anna Metaxas of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, will lead the scientists. They depart Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on Wednesday aboard the NOAA ship Henry B. Bigelow and return to Newport, Rhode Island, on July 1.

Bodvar Eggertsson

At 7:00 tonight, five seals will emerge from kennels and flop across a Biddeford beach into the ocean. It will be the final release of rehabilitated seals from the University of New England's Marine Animal Rehabilitation and Conservation Center. UNE announced last month the center would close due to financial constraints and a shift in programming. Those who rescue stranded marine animals say they're scrambling to figure out how to continue helping animals in distress.

The Portland City Council last night adopted two measures designed to cut down on waste that are believed to be threats to the environment.

On identical, 6-3 votes, the council enacted a ban on single-use foam packaging. In the other measure, it imposed a nickel-a-bag fee on grocery bags.

The idea is to encourage people to use, and reuse, cloth and other bags that won't go into the waste stream.

Backers of the new restrictions say much of that plastic and foam winds up littering the landscape and finding its way into the ocean where it poses a risk to wildlife.

UNITY PLANTATION, Maine (AP) _ A two-year quest by Unity College students to fit a black bear with a video collar has achieved success.
    The Morning Sentinel reports that professor George Matula and about a dozen students trekked deep into a 4,000-acre patch of woods off Route 139 on Thursday to fit the collar on a trapped bear.
    Although the team had hoped to capture a female so they could get video of it raising cubs, they were still satisfied to fit the collar on an 180-pound male.

A Washington, D.C., consulting group says a less costly, less damaging dredging plan would still allow Searsport's Mack Point to accommodate larger tankers and cargo ships.

  The Isleboro Islands Trust opposes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' dredging plan for the channel off Searsport and hired the firm Dawson and Associates to research alternatives.

In its report, released today in Augusta, Dawson also calls for further environmental and economic study before any dredging is allowed to move forward.

Ocean Acidification

Jun 12, 2014

Scientists and fisherman worry about changes in the chemistry of the ocean, and the impact on clams, lobsters, oysters, shrimp and sea urchins. The Maine Legislature recently passed the first law in the East Coast that addresses the issue. Learn more about the ocean acidification and what might be done to protect Maine's fisheries and environment.

Host Jennifer Rooks speaks with:

Tom Porter / MPBN

Later this month a special commission will convene in Maine to study ocean acidification and look for ways to mitigate it. It was established by legislation passed in April, making Maine the first state on the East Coast to enact a law specifically to study the threat posed by the changing chemistry of the seas. The lawmaker behind the measure says ocean acidification is a problem he witnesses on a daily basis.

Last year, Maine set a record no one really wanted — we had more confirmed cases of Lyme disease than ever before. Eleven-hundred people were diagnosed with Lyme. Well, tick season is upon us yet again, and with the warm weather finally here, a lot of people are headed outdoors. And now, there's not just Lyme disease to be aware of, but other tick-borne diseases as well — including the Powassen virus, which claimed the life of a well-known artist in Maine last year.

State of Maine

A long-awaited trial over mercury contamination in the southern end of Maine's second-largest river system got underway today in U.S. District Court in Bangor. A now defunct, Orrington-based chemical company dumped mercury into the Penobscot River years ago. The lawsuit, filed by the Maine People's Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council, asks the federal court to order Mallinckrodt US LLC to clean up contamination around the mouth of Penobscot Bay and along the river.

Glennia / Flickr/Creative Commons

Several environmental leaders, scientists and business representatives in Maine have welcomed new rules for cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. This follows the announcement today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Supporters say Maine already has a head start on complying with the new rules.

Paul Schaberg marshals a small team of scientists, surveying a stand of red spruce in Colebrook for frost damage from last winter.

“So what are you guys seeing, are you seeing any injury yet?” he calls out.  

“We’re just seeing green needles,” hollers back one of his helpers.

“Happy, happy trees,” responds another.

Report: Maine's Solar Potential Going Untapped

May 28, 2014
Margaux Rioux

Alternative energy advocates today unveiled a national study which puts Maine's biggest city in a less-than-flattering light when it comes to the development of solar power. Environment Maine held an outdoor press conference near Portland's working waterfront, where despite wet and cloudy conditions, the message was that Maine has great solar potential.

New Carbon Rules: Is New England Already Complying?

May 20, 2014
iStock Photo/Thinkstock

Coal-burning power plants are bracing for new carbon regulations due out in June. In the Midwest where there are states that get as much as 70 percent of their electricity from coal, many are worried that these new regulations will cost jobs.  But New England may already be compliant with the rules before they are even written.

You know it's springtime in Maine when the birds wake you up before your alarm clock does. Right now is peak season for the spring bird migration. That means bird watchers -- both amateurs and experts -- are out with their binoculars in woods and fields all over Maine. Jennifer Rooks headed out to Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park with ornithologist Jeff Wells.

When Jeff Wells heads into the woods, he hears things most of us don't.

"That super-high pitch sound, 'zzzz,' that's a blackburnian warbler," Wells says.

Not background noise. But discrete, individual voices.


May 19, 2014

Where to birdwatch in Maine and which birds to look for. Birdwatching is one of the fastest-growing pastimes in America. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service estimates that 48 million of us are birders, the same report shows that Maine is second only to Montana in the percentage of people who are bird-watchers. And why not? By many measures, Mainers are living in bird-watching paradise. Especially right now, during the spring migration season, when songbirds arrive from South and Central America.