Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

The National Weather Service says record or near-record warmth is in store for northern New England for a day.
Temperatures were expected to rise into the 50s and 60s, and possibly 70 in parts of southern New Hampshire on Wednesday.
In Burlington, Vermont, it was 61 on Wednesday morning, already breaking the record for the date. It reached a record 59 degrees in Burlington on Tuesday.
The snowmelt may lead to some ice jam flooding in the region.
Typical winter weather is returning Thursday, with highs in the 30s.

Portland is joining forces with South Portland to develop a collaborative climate action plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Troy Moon, Portland’s sustainability coordinator, presented the plan before the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee on Thursday.

Moon, who has been working on the plan for six months, says their goal of reducing CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2050 is no easy task.

Jack Kennealy / Maine Land Trust Network

Governor LePage used a portion of his 90-minute State of the State address Tuesday to attack one of his favorite targets: land trusts.

Governor LePage is behind a bill to gut most of the state's fast-track permitting process for commercial wind power projects.

The Portland Press Herald reports the governor's bill is part of his recent efforts against Maine's wind power industry.

LePage recently announced a moratorium on new wind permits in Maine and created a commission that would study the economic impact of wind turbines on western Maine mountains, coastal areas and along migratory bird pathways.

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

PORTLAND, Maine — An exhibit that participants can really sink their teeth into has come to town.

The Portland Science Center recently opened its doors to “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey,” which traces the evolution of sharks and highlights their significance in the ecosystem.

Joe Gold, who heads the Portland Science Center, says he’s pleased to bring the exhibition all the way from Australia. He says people are generally enamored with sharks and this topic is both exciting and timely.

Courtesy Maine Audubon

SCARBOROUGH, Maine - Maine wildlife biologists say conservation programs and state partnerships helped more than 100 piping plover chicks fledge in the state last year.
The piping plover is a shorebird that is on the state endangered species list and is listed as threatened at the federal level. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says southern Maine beaches hosted 64 nesting pairs last year and 102 chicks fledged.

COLUMBIA, Maine - Two Maine game wardens and two hunters have come to the aid of a moose that was trapped in a muddy spring.
WGME-TV reports two hunters were searching for deer antlers in a cedar swamp in Columbia last week when they discovered the moose. Authorities say the female moose was stuck up to her neck in the spring hole and couldn't move her legs.

Project Aims to Keep Maine Tribe’s Land from Washing Away

Feb 3, 2018
Bridget Brown / Bangor Daily News

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposes to spend $3 million next year to save Passamaquoddy Tribe land in Down East Maine from shoreline erosion.

Scientists say last year was one of the coolest this decade in the Gulf of Maine, but the temperature in the body of water is continuing to trend upward.

The Gulf of Maine is a piece of ocean that touches Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Canada. Scientists have said it is warming faster than most of the world's oceans.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute says the average sea surface temperature in the gulf was the lowest since 2011 last year. But the Bangor Daily News reports last year's temperatures were still above normal for the gulf.

Feds Investigating High Number Of Minke Whale Deaths On East Coast

Feb 1, 2018
Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News/file

An unusually high number of dead minke whales reported along the East Coast in the past year has prompted federal officials to launch an investigation into what’s killing the protected animals.

Northeast fishing managers say offshore drilling for oil and gas off of New England and the mid-Atlantic states could jeopardize marine life and industries.

The New England Fishery Management Council agreed to send a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management on Tuesday calling for the exclusion of East Coast waters from oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf region. The council reports to the federal government and its recommendation applies from Maine to North Carolina.

Charles Krupa / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Officials at the Portland International Jetport say migrating snowy owls and the human admirers following them are causing trouble for the runway.
Officials at the airport say they've seen an increase in snowy owls migrating from Canada, and birders are spreading news about their sightings quickly through social media. WGME-TV reports birders coming to the airport are blocking emergency access points and illegally parking on the roads.

Gulf of Maine Deep Coral Science Team 2014/NURTEC-UCONN, NOAA Fisheries, UMAINE

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal fishing regulators are set to vote on a proposal that could protect nearly 90 percent of the coral habitat in a key commercial fishing area off New England.
The New England Fishery Management Council is expected to vote on the proposal on Tuesday. The council approved protections in another key fishing area, the Gulf of Maine, in June.
The same council has held off on voting on protections for an area south of Georges Bank until it could get more information about how the protections would impact commercial fisheries.

Salt, The Solution To Winter's Dangers, Threatens US Waters

Jan 29, 2018
Bill Sikes / Associated Press/file

CONCORD, N.H. - Truckloads of road salt used to keep highways ice-free in the winter are starting to take a toll on the environment.
Researchers say they're finding rising salt levels in hundreds of lakes, especially in the Northeast and Midwest where sodium chloride is used most. The findings are raising fears that salting roads could put everything from microscopic zooplankton to fish at risk in coming decades.

Maine Public/file

EASTPORT, Maine - Maine fishing regulators say they have shut down a few areas to scallop fishing, including parts of the state's most fertile scalloping ground.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources says it has shut down Johnson Bay and Eastport Breakwater in the Cobscook Bay area. Cobscook Bay is the most important fishing area for Maine scallopers.
The state says it's also shutting down Casco Passage, which is in the northwest corner of the Swan's Island fishing area.