Rural Maine Reporting Project

The Rural Maine Reporting Project is made possible through the generous support of the Betterment Fund.

As a part of its strategic efforts in local journalism, Maine Public presents a year-long series of news reports on Maine Public Radio and digitally that highlight the benefits, challenges, and opportunities of life in today’s rural and western Maine.

Reporting on rural and western Maine is decreasing. Most local media outlets have diminished in size, capacity, and reach, to only cover the higher profile stories from Augusta, Portland, Lewiston and Bangor. This shrinking level of coverage widens the gap in what listeners, viewers, and readers know about their fellow Mainers. And the need to connect with our neighbors and understand people everywhere in our state is entirely evident now, more than ever.

This series will showcase the best that rural Maine has to offer, while also featuring the stories that show how these communities have challenges unique to each.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

With harvest on the horizon and the summer slipping away, COVID-19 continues to wreak new havoc on Maine farms in diverse ways. Some farmers say the pandemic is dealing blows to their business plans and complicating an already complex labor market — even driving some to the brink of disaster.

National Weather Service

Hot conditions since May coupled with very little rainfall have caused not just drier than average conditions in Maine, but actual drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The University of Maine at Machias is suspending its athletic program indefinitely as it faces budget challenges partially caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

INDIAN STREAM TWP, Maine-  A Maine woman died Saturday while white-water rafting on the Upper Kennebec River.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

Every year, several thousand adventurous souls set out to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail. But this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, thru-hikers have been advised to put their dreams on hold.

Some have refused.

That refusal has created tension between those who want to push personal boundaries and those who say there should be limits on public safety.

Supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, were a major worldwide concern in the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Four months after COVID-19 was first identified in Maine, the situation has improved — But many health care providers say finding PPE is still a struggle, and they worry that if there’s a surge of the disease this fall, there won’t be enough on hand.

Rebecca Conley / Maine Public File

A Jay pulp and paper mill that was rocked by an explosion in April is laying off almost 60 workers, with more layoffs on the way.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

The state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands has signed a revised deal with Central Maine Power to lease a public parcel for the utility’s controversial power line through western Maine. It makes some key changes, but opponents say under the state constitution, the lease still needs to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Legislature.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

A technician with CN Brown has been fined, reprimanded, and had his license suspended for his part in a chain of events that led to the deadly September 2019 explosion at the nonprofit LEAP office in Farmington.

The town of Lincoln has been roiled by a number of racially insensitive or racist social media posts made by town and school officials and a local policeman in the last few days. Tony Hallett, a reporter for The Lincoln News, has been following the issue. Hallett talked with Maine Public's Morning Edition host Irwin Gratz about the posts and how the town is being affected by them.

The Maine Center for Disease Control reported 19 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, for total cumulative case number of 2,957. No new COVID-related deaths were recorded. That number still stands at 102.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public File

Molly Neptune Parker, a Passamaquoddy elder and master basketmaker, died Friday at the age of 81.

courtesy Conservation Fund

A coalition of land conservation groups is buying and preserving a 15,000-acre tree farm in western Maine that's been in one family for 12 generations.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public File

Maine's Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says those three sectors have been underserved by the federal pandemic relief programs.

Rebecca Conley / Maine Public

President Donald Trump on Friday returned to Maine for a visit designed to reaffirm his appeal with rural voters and to reframe his heavily criticized response to a coronavirus pandemic that threatens his bid for a second term.