Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

In Explain Maine, an occasional series, we look at some of the things that are unique, interesting and quirky about our great state, and we hope to solve some mysteries as well.

How will policies to combat climate change fare under Donald Trump’s administration? It’s one of many questions being raised after the president-elect’s stated positions on the campaign trail.

Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the science of climate change, even famously suggesting it was a Chinese hoax. At a climate change solutions conference in Biddeford on Friday, U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine says he’s optimistic that Washington won’t be the final arbiter. Local environmental groups are planning for that scenario, too.

A petition for Maine to take stronger measures to reduce its carbon footprint has been rejected by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

More than 200 Maine voters as well as nearly 200 youth submitted the petition in September.

Curtis Morrison of the climate change advocacy group Our Children’s Trust says Maine is not adequately protecting the rights of Maine youth to a healthy future.

“We’re not just saying do better. We’re saying, no — adopt a prescription that gets us to where we need to be,” he says.

Mark Picard / via NRCM

President-elect Donald Trump could do something no president has done before if he attempts to undo the newly christened Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. But there are big questions about whether a president has the legal authority to make such a move.

BANGOR, Maine - The dry conditions that have plagued much of New England this summer are expanding, and will persist through the harshest months of winter.

That's according to the latest predictions released by the National Integrated Drought Information System, which also show drought conditions pushing north of the state's central highlands and into Aroostook County.

The news is especially unwelcome by those who rely on private wells. "You'll see people running out of water," says Hydrologist Tom Hawley with the National Weather Service.

Suppermoon in Bejing, China
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

As stargazers look up at an expected “supermoon” Monday night, folks in flood-prone areas of southern coastal Maine could get their feet wet.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The state's Drought Task Force says October rains have eased Maine's drought, but parts of the state are still parched.

“The rain we got in the last few weeks has eased the situation - of course we really needed it, and any bit helps," says Tom Redstone is with the Maine Emergency Management Agency. "But with that said we have a long ways to go before recovery.”

Eric Kilby / Flickr/Creative Commons

Oral arguments begin Thursday in a federal lawsuit over protection of Maine’s threatened Canada lynx. Trappers and environmentalists say it could set a precedent for the country, as they battle in Bangor’s federal court over whether state and federal governments should permit lynx to be killed in traps intended for nonendangered species.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The rare New England cottontail rabbit and other shrubland species are getting some new help from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency is targeting 15,000 acres of land in six northeastern states, including Maine, to be included in a new Great Thickets National Wildlife Refuge.

It has been almost 15 years since environmentalists and others noticed a decline in the shrub-loving New England cottontail. Since then, a growing, multistate conservation effort has attempted to prevent further decline.

Dead fish below the Brunswick dam from October 15 and 16, 2016
Ed Friedman, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay

Conservation groups are raising red flags about what they say are two significant fish kills in Ellsworth and Brunswick over the past week.

Contents of a recycling bin at the Casella Waste Systems depot in Vermont
File: AP Photo/Toby Talbot

The process has been going on for more than four years, but Casella Waste Systems and the state moved closer today to getting a decision on their planned expansion of the Juniper Ridge Landfill near Old Town.

PORTLAND, Maine - Water flows in the Mattawamkaeg, Piscataquis and Saint John Rivers have fallen to levels not seen in 80 or more years of record keeping.

National Weather Service forecaster Maureen Hastings, in Caribou, says the low-flow readings are a sign of growing drought conditions in parts of northern Maine.

"Something interesting we had seen coming through some local social media is that the rivers are so low people are able to walk across them," Hastings says. "And that includes the Saint John River, so, of course, that may have some issues there."

PORTLAND, Maine - It rained Sunday - all day if you were along the coast.   And that's news, of course, because of the drought that has been intensifying across the state.

As much as an inch of rain fell along the coast from Portland to Bar Harbor. But Tom Hawley, the hydrologist at the National Weather Service in Gray, says not everyone got wet. 

"The most rain fell right along the coastal plain.  Once you got up into the mountains there was very little.  A tenth of an inch of less.  Some places up in the mountains didn't get anything."

A.J. Higgins / Maine Public

State wildlife regulators are taking steps they say are designed to manage growing populations of bobcat and beaver.

Bobcats, they say, are showing up in areas of the state where they were once rarely seen, while beavers are working to take over areas claimed by humans. Opponents of the expanded hunting and trapping policy say that people are the real problem in the woods.


All of a sudden, Maine is awash in color as leaves change from green to red, orange and yellow across the state.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says this Columbus Day weekend, northern Maine and the western mountains are expected to be at peak with moderate or high color change to the south and along the coast.

Fall foliage spokeswoman Gale Ross says the color seems to have emerged overnight and is increasing daily. She says color levels were very low just a week ago.