Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

A 30-year-old land conservation program, whose last two rounds of voter-approved bond funding were delayed in a political battle with Gov. Paul LePage, says it should have the cash in hand this fall.

Land for Maine’s Future Director Sarah Demers says the group is putting out a call for new project proposals focused on protecting important land resources.

ELLSWORTH, Maine - Fishing regulators who are looking to ban most fishing from proposed deep sea coral protection zones off of New England are taking feedback from fishermen and the public before they vote.
The New England Fishery Management Council cast a vote in favor of the protections in April. The council also voted to allow some lobster fishing in the coral zones.
The proposal is the subject of a public hearing in Ellsworth on Thursday and an online public hearing on Friday.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press File

Following several decades of management, including a total hunting ban in some states, bobcat numbers nationwide are now estimated to be well over 3 million, and growing. In Maine, where limited trapping is allowed, populations are also healthy.

“Our indexes suggest that for the past 15 years, 20 years, the population has been steady to increasing,” says Cory Mosby, a specialist in fur-bearing animals with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine officials are reminding the state’s many all-terrain vehicle users that ATVs wider than 5 feet are not allowed on many pieces of the state’s vast trail network.

ATVs are a major tourism draw in Maine and are made possible by agreements with private landowners who allow them on their land. State agencies say they brokered a deal with landowners based on a maximum width of 5 feet for ATVs.

But now many new vehicles, are up to a foot wider, according to Cpl. John MacDonald, a spokesman for the Maine Warden Service.

Avian Haven

The oldest eagle ever documented in Maine is going to need a new nickname.

The 34-year-old bird found in Trescott Township was dubbed “The Old Man.” Rehabilitators are now almost certain the eagle is a female, not a male.

The bird was rescued in early April. Wildlife officials say a band was put around the bird’s leg shortly after hatching on June 21, 1983, on Grand Manan Island in Canada.

Rehabilitators say the bird is doing well at Avian Haven in Freedom. Officials say the old bird had a fairly serious wing injury and that it’s also recovering from lead exposure.

Patty Wight / Maine Public

Last year, 28 people in the Northeast died from paddle craft-related deaths. That’s more than double the national average, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

CONCORD, N.H. - Coastal Maine and Southeast New Hampshire are part of a poor air quality alert for Thursday, as the hot, summery weather sticks around a bit.
The Environmental Protection Agency and state air quality forecasters are predicting areas of unhealthy air quality in parts of New England.

State wildlife officials say nuisance bear complaints, an annual rite of spring in Maine, have begun this year.

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife black bear biologist Jennifer Vachon says natural foods are fairly limited in the spring and that’s when people start having black bear problems.

“The most common types of problems that we have are usually bears getting into bird feeders and birdseed and garbage,” she says.

The Island Institute is receiving $240,000 from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to fund a project about disaster preparedness in Maine related to sea level rise.

The Institute says the money will help pay for a project that benefits Maine’s island and coastal communities by addressing threats from natural disasters and environmental change stemming from rising sea levels.

Island Institute marine scientist Susie Arnold says island communities have no choice about where much of their working waterfront infrastructure is located.

Moose Healthy in Maine Despite Struggles in Recent Years

May 16, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine - It was a good winter to be a moose in Maine.

Despite struggles in recent years, Maine's state animal had a high survival rate over the winter. State moose biologist Lee Kantar says state data show about half of moose calves studied in western Maine have survived this year.

That's much better than last year. Moose calves studied in northern Maine also did well, and survival rates were improved for adult moose.

ROCKLAND, Maine - A Maine nonprofit group is receiving $240,000 from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to fund a project about disaster preparedness in the state in the era of sea level rise.
The Island Institute says the money will help pay for a project that benefits Maine's island and coastal communities by addressing threats from natural disasters and environmental change stemming from sea level rise.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Point Lepreau is a nuclear power plant just across the border in Saint John. Next month its operating license expires, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is considering whether to renew it for another five years. While that’s not a long amount of time for a 30-year-old plant, there are passionate arguments for and against its operation and implications for an entire region.

Northern New England is getting a rare treat: Sunlight and warmth.
The National Weather Service says it's going to be sunny Tuesday with temperatures approaching 70 across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. By Thursday, it'll approach 90 in parts of the region.

It'll be a dramatic turnaround after several weeks of gloomy weather.

Tom Hawley, from the National Weather Service in Gray, says there's been either rain or a trace of rain on 12 of the first 14 days of the month in Portland.

Maine Board Approves 3 Types of Genetically Engineered Potatoes

May 16, 2017
Courtesy University of Maine Extension Service

With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved on Friday morning the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company.

The state of Maine has launched a website about destructive plants and animals that have invaded Maine or could be on their way.

State officials say invasives are wreaking havoc on Maine’s ecosystems and resources. Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry spokesman John Bott says the problem of invasives in Maine is increasing.

“The No. 1 issue here is preventing these species from getting here because, in many cases, once they’re here they’re virtually impossible to eradicate,” he says.