Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

The National Weather Service says the rapid snowmelt is going to cause minor flooding on the Kennebec River in Maine and on the Connecticut River that separates New Hampshire and Vermont.

The temperature has climbed high enough to set a couple of records in New England - and to cause melting snow that's contributing to minor flooding.

The National Weather Service says the temperature climbed Tuesday to 87 degrees in Concord, New Hampshire, and 78 degrees in Augusta, Maine, both records for the date. The temperature hit 75 in Portland, Maine, coming within 2 degrees of the record.

On Monday, Montpelier, Vermont, had a record high of 77 degrees.

Tate Yoder / via Blue Hill Heritage Trust

PORTLAND, Maine - A Maine land trust says it has purchased more than 2,000 acres of forested land in Surry for preservation. Blue Hill Heritage Trust bought the land for $650,000, including $400,000 in public funding.

The parcel was heavily logged last winter, and the trust's executive director, Hans Carlson, says he's looking forward to seeing how it recovers now that it's been put in conservation.

Drought Was Tough on Farmers, But Good for Moose

Apr 11, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. - Last year's drought in New Hampshire was tough on farmers and towns. But it turns out to have been good for moose.
Preliminary numbers from a project that puts tracking collars on moose show that only one of the calves - the most vulnerable group - died from winter ticks this year. A year ago, nearly 75 percent of the calves tracked died.

NOAA Fisheries / via Wikimedia Commons

PROVINCETOWN, Mass. - Coastal researchers in Massachusetts say they found more endangered right whales in Cape Cod Bay recently than on any one day in recent history.
A spokeswoman for the Center for Coastal Studies says researchers found 112 of the rare whales in the bay Sunday. The spokeswoman says the next highest number for one day was 96 in 2014.

Proposed Closure of Coral Grounds in Gulf of Maine Has Lobster Industry on Edge

Apr 10, 2017
Gulf of Maine Deep Coral Science Team 2014/NURTEC-UCONN. / NOAA Fisheries

Over the past 10 years, the issue of how to protect endangered whales from getting tangled in fishing gear has been a driving factor in how lobstermen configure their gear and how much money they have to spend to comply with regulations.

Now federal officials have cited the need to protect deep-sea corals in a proposal to close some areas to fishing — a proposal that, according to lobstermen, could pose a serious threat to how they ply their trade.

Maine Audubon File Photo

PORTLAND, Maine - The number of loon chicks in southern Maine's lakes and ponds has increased dramatically over last year's count.

The count by Maine Audubon used almost 900 volunteer counters who looked at 304 lakes and ponds across the state.

They found a 76 percent increase in the estimate of chicks - to 384.

But Audubon wildlife biologist Susan Gallo says, contrary to appearances, the trend for chicks is flat.

BOSTON — Massachusetts scientists say they have reached the same conclusions as their federal counterparts in a study about the poor status of cod fish in the Gulf of Maine.

The Boston Globe reports the scientists found the region’s cod are at a historic low of about 80 percent less than the population from a decade ago.

Micah Dean oversaw the survey for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. He says he hopes fishermen who doubted federal government’s science on the issue will find the results credible.

PORTLAND, Maine — Wildlife biologists in Maine say it could take up to four years for the state’s wild brook trout population to fully recover from last year’s drought.

The Portland Press Herald reports the most affected areas were ponds and streams in central and southern Maine, the result of extreme drought conditions in nearly all of York and Cumberland counties.

The U.S. Drought Monitor says more than 7 feet of snow this winter has ended Maine’s drought conditions in all but the southern tip of York County.

Power crews are poised to respond to an April Fool’s Day storm that’s expected to dump some potentially problematic snow across Maine this weekend.

“So we’re watching it pretty closely,” says Central Maine Power spokeswoman Gail Rice. “We’re not seeing a whole lot of wind with this.”

While that’s good news, Rice says the storm does seem to feature heavy, wet snow.

“We are seeing some forecasts for more sticky snow, in some parts of our service area, particularly down in York and Cumberland Counties,” she says.

State fisheries officials have extended the ice fishing season in northern Maine by a couple of weeks.

The state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says that, due to unusually cold weather, the ice fishing season in northern Maine has been extended from April 1, to Sunday, April 16.

The Maine attorney general’s office says it’s ready to fight efforts by the Trump administration to postpone or weaken new, tougher fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks.

Maine is part of a coalition of states, led by New York, that says it will oppose any weakening of the Obama-era standards, which would require corporate fleet vehicles to get 54.5 miles to the gallon by 2025. The Trump administration has ordered that the rules be re-evaluated, and it’s expected to roll them back.

Jennifer Mitchell / Maine Public

Time is running out for nearly three dozen popular garden plants in Maine, and it’s not because another snowstorm is on the way.

PORTLAND, Maine - Environmental groups that want to save a marine monument created by former President Barack Obama in the ocean off of New England are asking to intervene in a lawsuit.
They say the nearly 5,000-square-mile monument area has "extraordinary scientific and ecological importance,'' including its rare deep-sea corals and endangered whales.

Barbara Cariddi / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine - Researchers at the University of Maine say hemlock trees will be at risk of accelerated decline as winters warm in the Northeast.

Bill Livingston is associate professor of forest resources at UMaine.  He says in northern New England,  cold winter weather has been able to keep the insect that causes hemlock decline in check.

"But because the model we had was something where we could vary the temperature, we warmed up winter temperatures by 2 degrees and found that, yes, that decline of hemlock then started creeping northward," Livingston says.