environment

Group Looking Up at Chestnut Tree
MPBN/Susan Sharon

A century ago American chestnut trees dominated the eastern woodlands from Georgia to Maine. Growing straight and tall they were prized for timber. Wildlife depended on the nuts they provided every year.

People ate the chestnuts, too, scooping them up by the sackful every Fall. Then came an exotic blight accidentally introduced from Asia and the species was virtually wiped out.

That's why scientists are excited by a recent find in western Maine, a record-breaking find that is raising their hopes for the future.

The unusual discovery was made from the air. Dr. Brian Roth, a forest scientist with the University of Maine was surveying areas most likely to have habitat conditions favorable for chestnut trees and - voila! Flying over some woods in Lovell he saw a telltale sign.

"In July, when nothing else is blooming, this tree will have a large amount of white flowers in its crown," says Roth. "The old timers talk about the hillsides in the Appalachian Mountains being covered in flowers as if it was snow and so we were able to key in on the particular weeks that these were blooming and did find this tree."

This is not just any tree. This is an American chestnut tree worthy of the record books. And this week, a gaggle of reporters, photographers and members of the American Chestnut Foundation, trudged out on a rainy December day to see Brian Duigan of the Maine Forest Service confirm some crucial measurements.

Gina McCarthy (l.) U.S. Senator Angus King (r.)
Irwin Gratz/MPBN

The Environmental Protection Administration chief was in Maine this morning, trying to re-assure Maine's smaller farmers that a new, clean water rule won't affect them. But national farm groups are saying they don't buy it.

A recycling bin next to a trash bin in Biddeford, Maine.
www.biddefordmaine.org

Studies indicate that every person in Maine generates at least four pounds of trash a day. That adds up to millions of pounds that to be disposed of, somehow, every year.

Jennifer Mitchell / MPBN

MAPLETON, Maine — For decades, states like California have been synonymous with "agriculture," but as western graze lands dry up, producers and distributors are looking for fertile new places to grow crops and produce food.

Environment advocates are watching about 140 bills out of 1500  being proposed this session, ones dealing with everything from microplastics to alewives. But one of the bigger discussions, they say, will be over renewable power.

Speaking in Maine takes us to Orono and UMaine for the annual George J Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability. The speaker is Bill Clark, professor of international science, public policy and human development at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He speaks on “Sustainability Science” — linking knowledge with action in support of sustainable development.

WALPOLE, Maine — The Maine Ocean Acidification Committee is ready to hold its first meeting.

The committee is charged with studying the impacts of ocean acidification on the state's environment. Its first meeting is scheduled for Friday in Walpole.

The council has 16 members and is slated to meet at least four times before wrapping up its work by Dec. 5. Officials say the panel will report its findings to the state legislature's Marine Resources Committee.

ConAgra Grocery Products Co. LLC, a food giant that includes a wide range of products such as Chef Boyardee and Swiss Miss, is on the hook for environmental cleanup costs in South Paris.

ConAgra will pay the Environmental Protection Agency $5.7 million for efforts to remediate the old A.C. Lawrence Leather site in South Paris. Federal regulators say ConAgra is the successor to the defunct tannery through a complex series of corporate mergers.

Tom Porter / MPBN

BRUNSWICK, Maine — One of North America's most common species of frog could be under threat. A Maine biology professor has uncovered worrying evidence of a mass die-off of wood frog tadpoles. And it all happened virtually on his own doorstep, just a few short steps from his house.

A panel of experts told senators Tuesday that climate change will have real budget implications for governments and individuals if carbon emissions are allowed to continue to grow. U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine agreed, but said the problem must be addressed globally.

"The big question here is, what is the rest of the world going to do?" King said. "I have a hard time telling people in Maine they are going to pay $6 for a gallon for gas if China and India do nothing."

Susan Sharon / MPBN

The South Portland City Council has voted to ban the export of Canadian tar-sands crude through the city, effectively ending any attempt to bring the crude from western Canada through a pipeline into the city. While there are no such plans in the work, Portland Pipeline Corporation Vice-President Tom Hardison spoke against the proposal.

Getting Down to Business on Climate Action panel discussion
Natural Resources Council of Maine

  The Natural Resources Council of Maine and the Portland Regional Chamber hosted a panel discussion about climate change focusing on how the regional climate initiative (RGGI) has impacted Maine businesses. Also discussed was the brand-new U.S. EPA carbon pollution standards that ask the rest of the country’s power plants to adopt the standards adhered to by Maine. The panel consisted of Senator Angus King (I-Maine); U.S.

www.grist.org

On June 2nd, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its new clean power plan for regulating electric power plants. The goal: a 30% reduction in emissions from America’s single largest source of carbon pollution. But what will this plan look like in Maine? How will it affect Maine businesses? And will it be enough?

Guests:  Stephen Mulkey, President of Unity College, and has directed Environmental Science Programs at The University of Idaho and the University of Florida.

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.

Jellyfish on the Rise in Casco Bay

Jun 23, 2014
Carrie McCusker

Earlier this month there was a notable increase in jellyfish sightings in southern Maine waters. The reason for this phenomenon is not entirely clear, say scientists, but it's prompting some of the state's hardiest swimmers to think twice before jumping in the water.

  Carrie McCusker, an endurance athlete and coach from Cape Elizabeth, says she saw unusual looking jellies last week, just a short boat ride from the South Portland marina toward Peaks Island.

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