Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

At his town meeting in North Berwick Wednesday night, Gov. Paul LePage blasted President Barack Obama for using his executive power to create the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in northern Maine.

“I am going to do everything in my power to have the next president reverse this decision,” he says.

Ragnhild Brosvik / Flickr/Creative Commons

By Michael Casey, The Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. — The drought conditions that have gripped much of the Northeastern U.S. this summer appear to have a silver lining — fewer ticks.

From Maine to Rhode Island, researchers say they expect tick numbers to be down from previous years especially for the blacklegged ticks, known as deer ticks, which transmit Lyme disease.

It’s too early to say, however, whether fewer ticks could mean a decline in Lyme disease cases.

While the monument designation has prompted a mixed reaction from Democratic lawmakers, Republicans in the Maine Legislature remain largely opposed to the plan that they say will actually turn out to be a job killer in the Baxter State Park region.

Jeff Pidot via Natural Resources Council of Maine

Supporters of what’s now known as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument are celebrating the addition of 87,500 acres to the National Park System Wednesday night.

A view of some of the land donated by Roxanne Quimby to the Federal Government.
C. Schmitt

It appears that philanthropist and entrepreneur Roxanne Quimby is finally getting her wish. Nearly 90,000 acres of land she owns east of Baxter State Park have been transferred to the federal government as of Tuesday morning. Quimby has been hoping to create a national park, and more recently a national monument in Maine’s North Woods, for nearly 20 years.

An adult Puffin on Eastern Egg Rock, with a haul of young  Acadian Redfish in its beak.
Jean Hall

The biggest Atlantic Puffin colony in the Gulf of Maine is having a tough year. Scientists studying puffin on Machias Seal Island say almost 90% of chicks born there this summer have died - and they expect the rest won’t live out the year.

The island - where both the U.S. and Canada claim sovereignty - is home to some 5,500 nesting pairs of puffins, the colorful seabirds which have made a comeback since their near extirpation in the Gulf of Maine a century ago.

PORTLAND, Maine — Scientists say Atlantic puffin chicks on Machias Seal Island in the Gulf of Maine have had the worst breeding season ever recorded with the majority of chicks starving to death in burrows.

Tony Diamond of the Atlantic Laboratory for Avian Research at the University of New Brunswick blames a drop in the puffins’ food supply. Some scientists say warming ocean water temperatures have decreased the availability of fish young puffins like to eat.

C. Schmitt via the Natural Resources Council of Maine

By Nick Sambides Jr., Bangor Daily News

BANGOR, Maine — The company owned by the family of Roxanne Quimby transferred more than 87,000 acres of land to the federal government on Tuesday, strongly indicating a North Woods national monument will soon be designated by President Barack Obama.

BANGOR, Maine — The federal government has agreed to pay Maine about $413,000 to clean up decades-old hazardous pollution at oil storage facilities.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills alleged two weeks ago in U.S. District Court that Maine faces $10.8 million in total cleanup costs for pollution at former Portland-Bangor Waste Oil Co. sites in Casco and Ellsworth.

The lawsuit claimed the Department of Defense had used the sites, which stored waste in tanks that leaked contaminants like lead into the ground.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A nonprofit formed by the co-founder of Maine-based personal care products company Burt’s Bees has donated roughly 100 acres of land to Acadia National Park.

The Portland Press Herald reports Roxanne Quimby and her foundation, Elliotsville Plantation Inc., had been working for years to acquire "inholdings" within the park on Mount Desert Island.

The inholdings donated by Quimby’s foundation were either inside or adjacent to the park boundary. The 13 parcels are valued at just under $2 million collectively.

State health officials are urging Mainers to take precautions as tickborne diseases surge in the state.

The Maine Center For Disease Control and Prevention says, as warm weather continues and Mainers enjoy outdoor activities, the state has received a record number of tickborne disease reports.

While mention of ticks often brings Lyme disease to mind, state epidemiologist Dr Siri Bennett says deer ticks can also carry other diseases such as anaplamosis and babesiosis, which are also on the rise.

By Michael Casey - The Associated Press
TILTON, N.H. - By putting tracking devices on ospreys, scientists are unraveling some of the mysteries behind the marathon migration of these fish-eating birds.

The brown and white birds spend their spring and summer in New England breeding before flying thousands of miles to South America. They spend their winters there.

Researchers at the University of Maine are using a $400,000 three year grant to study the survival of endangered Atlantic Salmon moving upstream in the Penobscot River as adults and moving downstream into the ocean as juveniles.

“Trying to understand the connectivity in the life history for these fish and certainly looking at that in the context of dams as impediments for movement in terms of delay as well as in terms of survival,” says Joe Zydlewski, a professor in the department of wildlife fisheries and conservation biology at the University of Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine - Maine's Department of Marine Resources has reopened the menhaden fishery, after closing it earlier this month.

Department spokesperson Jeff Nichols says the state closed the fishery because initial reports seemed to indicate that the quota of menhaden - or pogies - for Maine, Rhode Island and New York, had been used up.

But Nichols says that's turned out not to be true. "We determined that there still are more fish to catch."

If you drive by Portland’s Back Cove, you may have noticed a green slime on the tidal flats this summer.

Algae blooms have also been reported in other communities up the coast, and it’s a cause for concern to environmentalists, who point to nitrogen-rich wastewater runoff as a contributor.

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