Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Roads are slick and the vehicle crash count is up as northern New England copes with some heavy snow, with some places forecast for up to a foot and others expecting it to turn to rain.

Heavy snow was falling in parts of Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire on Tuesday. Hundreds of schools have closed and there have been some accidents reported. Speeds were lowered on highways. New Hampshire state troopers cleared at least six highway accidents by 10 a.m. There was no word of major injuries.

Meteorologist James Brown says most areas will experience a changeover to rain.

PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government wants to allow U.S. seafood harvesters to continue collecting the same amounts of some popular kinds of shellfish.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it wants to keep the quotas steady for surf clams, ocean quahogs and Maine ocean quahogs. Fishermen have harvested more than 38 million pounds of Atlantic surf clams every year since 1979. Quahogs are also a key seafood product in the Northeast.

New England Aquarium

This was a bad summer for North Atlantic right whales, with 17 deaths in waters off Canada and the U.S.

Many of the most productive shellfishing areas in Casco Bay have been shut down due to the presence of a rare late-season toxic algae bloom.

The closure stretches from Portland Harbor to the west side of Harpswell.  The Portland Press Herald reports that the ban affects hundreds of acres of productive clam flats in Freeport and Brunswick, as well as mussel and oyster farms in those locales and around Chebeague Island.

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

Dreams of excavating mineral riches in northern Maine have persisted since the late 1970s, when a geological survey confirmed significant deposits of zinc, copper, silver and lead in the region.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

PORTLAND, Maine - Federal fishing regulators are considering changing the way they manage one of the largest fisheries on the East Coast to better account for its impact on the environment and other industries.
The regulatory New England Fishery Management Council has released a group of alternatives for how it could change management of Atlantic herring. The small, schooling fish are harvested from Maine to Florida and are used for fish oil, food for humans and bait for fishermen.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

One day after President Donald Trump signed a proclamation to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his final recommendations for other monuments around the country, including Katahdin Woods and Waters here in Maine.

Scientists: Maine Coast Could See More Great White Sharks

Dec 5, 2017
Sharkdiver68 / via Wikimedia Commons

PORTLAND, Maine - Scientists say a great white shark detected in waters off Maine could be a sign that the big fish will become a more common sight in the years to come.
White sharks are near the northern edge of their range along the Maine coast, though they are not commonly seen in the area. One of the sharks was spotted in the waters off Kennebunkport in the summer of 2016.
University of New England marine scientist James Sulikowski says tracking devices discovered a different great white about 1.5 miles off Old Orchard Beach in September of this year.

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is giving a grant of nearly $100,000 to a Maine group that advocates for marine conservation and the livelihoods of small fishermen.
The grant is going to the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, which is based in Brunswick. The group says the money will help with its mission of restoring fisheries in the Gulf of Maine and preserving Maine fishing communities for the future.

PORTLAND, Maine - The commissioner of Maine's Marine Resources Department says next year the state won't participate in a research program that allows fishermen to catch some Northern shrimp.
Interstate regulators extended a moratorium on New England shrimp fishing for another year on Wednesday. They fishery has been shut since 2013.
But regulators did approve a "research set-aside'' program that allows fishermen to catch about 30,000 pounds of shrimp this coming winter. Some money from the sales of shrimp supports scientific research.

Visits To Maine's New National Monument Quadruple But Critics Say Turnout 'Underwhelming'

Nov 30, 2017
Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press/file

Maine’s national monument will likely draw almost 15,000 visitors by the end of the year, more than four times the number of people who visited during its abbreviated first season.

Scientists, municipal and state officials, consultants and concerned citizens gathered in Portland Tuesday to consider ways to protect against rising sea-levels and intense storms.

Sponsored by the Rockland-based Island Institute, the daylong forum highlighted work up and down the coast documenting the dangers sea-level rise and other climate-change-driven events pose for vulnerable ecosystems and infrastructure. The 60-plus attendees discussed strategies and standards that would foster coastal resilience, and how to finance solutions.

BERWICK, Maine - A tiny pest insect barely the size of a pinhead has been devastating Maine hemlock forests and forcing landowners to adapt to the pest's presence.

Abukar Adan / Maine Public

Climate activists rallied in Portland Monday evening in response to the Public Service Commission of Nebraska's approval of the alternate route for the Keystone XL pipeline.

But rally organizers, including Glen Bran of the Sierra Club, also saw the commission's 3-2 decision to reject TransCanada's preferred route as a partial victory.

Drought Means Another Tough Year For Maine Bees

Nov 18, 2017
Julia Bayly / Bangor Daily News

Phil Gaven at The Honey Exchange in Portland found himself getting less honey from some beekeepers than in past years thanks to the drought that hit parts of Maine this year.

“We are well stocked for the holiday season,” Gaven said. “But the drought definitely impacted honey flows in pockets around the state.”