Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

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.

mainefoliage.com

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.

Susan Sharon

This week, representatives from eight Arctic nations are meeting in Portland to discuss environmental issues and promote sustainable development in the Arctic region. Representatives of indigenous groups are also at the table. But the meetings are being held in private.

Today, a small group of mostly retirees protested what they say is too much emphasis on the economic opportunities of a melting region and not enough on the fundamental issue: addressing climate change.

The National Weather Service says the latest forecast for Hurricane Matthew has it traveling east of New England with little, if any, rain this weekend.

Meteorologist Margaret Curtis says the projected track has changed in the last 24 hours, with the most likely scenario sending the storm and rain offshore.

The region can use some rain, with extreme drought conditions in parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

A new grassroots wildlife advocacy group is opposing a plan advanced by the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to extend the season for hunting bobcats and trapping beavers.

Karen Coker of WildWatch Maine says the department wants to add a week in February to the bobcat season and an additional two weeks to the beaver trapping season to provide more opportunity for hunters and trappers.

A new rule is now in effect in Maine to try to protect loons from lead poisoning.

Prior to 2002, lead was responsible for nearly a third of all adult loon mortality. So in 2013, Maine lawmakers passed An Act to Protect Maine Loons By Banning Lead Sinkers and Jigs.

Susan Gallo is with Maine Audubon which is part of a coalition of groups trying to encourage the purchase and use of lead-free fishing tackle. She says one provision of the law didn’t take effect until September of this year.

Maine Audubon

There’s an unusual conservation effort underway involving loons from Maine called Restore the Call.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The owners of a campground in Scarborough, Maine, have agreed to pay a $227,500 penalty and restore wetlands for environmental violations.

Bayley’s Camping Resort, Bayley Hill Deer and Trout Farm Inc., and related entities signed a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice over claims they illegally polluted and filled in wetlands.

The consent decree won’t become final until after a public comment period.

Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News

By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News

GOULDSBORO, Maine — A month after she donated 87,000 acres in northern Penobscot County to the National Park Service to create Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, philanthropist Roxanne Quimby has bought an oceanside campground near here that she plans to reopen.

E.R. Gundlach / oil-spill-info.com

It was 20 years ago Tuesday that the tanker Julie N crashed int the bridge connecting Portland and South Portland, spilling 180,000 gallons of oil into the Fore River in the worst oil spill in Maine’s history.

Courtesy Campobello Whale Rescue / Maine Public/file

The recent death of two right whales in the Gulf of Maine and the discovery of another entangled in fishing gear is bringing renewed attention to the plight of the endangered species.

Last Thursday, a right whale was spotted off Provincetown, Mass., swimming, but entangled in gear. Friday, a dead female whale was seen off Boothbay and towed to shore, where its death was determined to be from stress caused by entanglement. Saturday a dead whale was spotted off Mount Desert Rock, but could not be recovered.

Maine is one of 18 states that defended the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., Tuesday. Supporters of the plan say it’s a landmark move to impose limits on carbon pollution and help address climate change.

If the Clean Power Plan holds up in court, it would require power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says upholding that standard is critical.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's moose hunt begins today, but with several hundred fewer permits issued. Nearly 49,000 hunters entered the lottery for 2,140 moose permits, 675 fewer than last year.

State moose biologist Lee Kantar says the state issued fewer permits this year because certain targets for the number of moose - such as three moose per square mile -- and the number of moose that can be killed to reach those targets, changes from year to year.

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