Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

Courtesy USDA

LINCOLN, Maine - Conservation experts in Maine are looking to bug the state's residents for the good of its forests.
The Penobscot County Soil and Water Conservation District is asking the public to come out for a free program about invasive forest pests. Forest pests are species that jeopardize the health of the state's working forests and can do physical and economic damage to industries and natural areas.

Susan Sharon / Maine Public

It may be back-to-school week, but summer doesn’t officially end until late September. That means here in Vacationland there’s still plenty of time to go camping.

Lucas St. Clair Says He's ‘Optimistic’ After Chat With Interior Secretary

Aug 28, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine — The leader of the successful effort to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument says he’s feeling optimistic after a telephone chat with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Lucas St. Clair said he spoke Monday with the interior secretary, who recommended last week that 27 monuments under review by the Trump administration remain open — but also left open the possibility of recommending changes.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Hunters are flocking to the woods of Maine to participate in the state's bear hunt, which is one of the key economic drivers of rural parts of the state.
The bear hunt begins on Monday and runs until Nov. 25. There are different parts of the season in which hunters can pursue bears with bait or hunting dogs.
Hunting with bait is allowed until Sept. 23. Bait is typically sugary human food such as doughnuts. Hunting with dogs begins on Sept. 11 and runs until Oct. 27.

The future of the first Atlantic marine national monument will likely be decided in court. A lawsuit that challenges the designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument remains on hold, as fishermen’s groups wait to hear specific recommendations from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

Cynthia Christman / NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is officially launching an investigation into the unusually high numbers of North Atlantic right whale deaths this year.

NOAA has declared an "Unusual Mortality Event," after at least 13 of the rare whales have been found dead this year off New England and Canada.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks with reporters with part of Mount Katahdin in the background at the Katahdin Woods And Waters National Monument near Staceyville, Maine, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
Patrick Whittle / AP Photo

Sometime in the next 24 hours, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is expected to recommend what, if any, changes he thinks should be made to Maine’s Katahdin Woods and

Waters National Monument. Friday marks the one year anniversary since the monument’s designation by President Obama and supporters have a celebration and fundraiser planned. But the party could turn into a strategy session depending on Zinke’s decision.

Where's the Kelp? Warm Ocean Takes Toll on Undersea Forests

Aug 22, 2017
Charles Krupa / Associated Press

APPLEDORE ISLAND, Maine - Kelp forests are critical to the fishing industry but are disappearing around the world.
The Gulf of Maine is the latest global hotspot to lose kelp. Other areas include hundreds of miles in the Mediterranean and off Japan, Australia and the California coast.
Scientists say the likely culprits are climate change and invasive species.
A recent study in the Journal of Ecology found introduced species from as far away as Asia were covering as much as 90 percent of the Gulf of Maine's floor.

PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government is designating critical habitat for the Atlantic sturgeon in a step regulators say will help the fish recover its population.
The National Marine Fisheries Services says the designation will apply in coastal areas from Maine to Florida.
The service says federal agencies will have to consult with the fisheries service if they operate or pay for activities that could affect designated critical habitat in nearly 4,000 miles of coastal river area.

Maine Audubon File Photo

The Portland-based Biodiversity Research Institute is reporting a development that could have broad implications for efforts to protect loons.

A loon chick that was relocated from Maine to a lake in Massachusetts last summer has returned to its second home, not the lake where it was born. And that’s raising hopes that loons could be restored to their former breeding range.

BOSTON - A right whale found dead in waters near Cape Cod this week has been identified as a frequent visitor to the area that was first spotted off the Cape in 1992.
The Cape Cod Times reports the 26-year-old female whale named Couplet was identified Thursday through photos in a database at the New England Aquarium.

'Spectacular' Autumn Foliage is Forecast for New England

Aug 18, 2017

BOSTON - New England's fall foliage forecast is looking so fine it's enough to make a maple leaf blush.
For the first time in several years, little has conspired against a truly glorious autumn. There's no more drought, the summer has been mild and the leaves - largely spared by marauding gypsy moth caterpillars - look healthy.
Foliage experts say all that suggests an optimal season for leaf peeping seems to be shaping up.
Yankee Magazine's annual forecast being released Friday predicts a particularly "strong and vibrant'' display.

UMaine Team to Launch High-Altitude Balloons for Live Broadcast of Solar Eclipse

Aug 17, 2017
Courtesy University of Maine / via Bangor Daily News

From the comfort of your own couch or cubicle, you can have a front-row seat to next week’s total eclipse thanks to a team from the University of Maine and a balloon floating three times higher than a commercial airliner flies.

The UMaine High Altitude Ballooning group will travel to Clemson University in South Carolina, where it will be one of many teams documenting the eclipse as part of the NASA-sponsored Great American Eclipse project.

Accidental Deaths of Endangered Whale Threatens Its Survival

Aug 15, 2017
Peter Duley / NEFSC/NOAA

PORTLAND, Maine - Marine conservation groups say accidental deaths this year among the endangered North Atlantic right whales threaten the species survival.

Right whales are among the most imperiled marine mammals on Earth. No more than 500 of them still exist in the wild.

Biologist Regina Asmutis-Silvia says at least 12 whales have died since April, or about 2 percent of the population in just a few months.

PORTLAND, Maine - Fishery regulators are meeting with commercial and recreational fishermen around New England and New York to talk about upcoming assessments of key fish stocks.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has scheduled the port outreach meetings'' to talk about the assessments of 20 groundfish stocks. Groundfish are commercially significant fish species such as cod, haddock and sole that live near the ocean floor.