May 25, 2019  
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Maine Environmental News
Action Alert - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

Thanks for visiting Maine Environmental News, a service of RESTORE: The North Woods. MEN is the most comprehensive online source available for links to conservation and natural resource news and events in Maine (and a bit beyond; hey, we're all connected). We have posted summaries and links to 60,000 news articles and announcements. We also post breaking stories and exclusives. Be sure to check not only today's news, but take a look at the headlines from the past several days as well. Articles often come to our attention a few days after they are published. Follow us on Twitter @MaineEnviroNews. ~ Jym St. Pierre, Editor
Hike Little Bigelow, Jun 1
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

Little Bigelow is the most eastern peak of the Bigelow Range, round trip 6.5 miles. Views of Flagstaff Lake, Sugarloak, Bigelow range. At Carrabassett Valley, June 1, pre-register. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club.
Hike Little Deer Hill & Deer Hill, Jun 1
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

5.4-mile hike to open summit with great views, Evans Notch, June 1, pre-register. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club.
Public Ownership vs. Private Rights in Maine’s Public Reserved Lots, Jun 1
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

Panel presentations during Maine Bicentennial Conference. At UMaine, Orono, June 1, 1:30-3:30 pm. Registration fee.
Little Ponds Preserve Celebration, Jun 1
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

Celebrate the opening of Harpswell Heritage Land Trust's newest preserve. At Little Ponds Preserve, Harpswell, June 1, 10 am.
Maine Entomological Society Field Day, Jun 1
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 25, 2019 

Join MES to explore the world of insects. At Hutchinson Pond Conservation Area, Manchester, June 1, 10 am. Sponsored by Kennebec Land Trust.
Maine Bicentennial Conference, May 30-Jun 1
Event - Posted - Friday, May 24, 2019 

In addition to scholarly panels ($60), several elements (museum exhibits and the keynote event by two Pulitzer Prize winning historians on May 31) are free to the public. A Maine History Festival for students and cultural organizations to present their own research and planning for the state bicentennial will be part of the conference just prior to the keynote event.
Great Maine Scavenger Hunt
Event - Posted - Thursday, May 23, 2019 

The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt is back (year 3). Use this list as your Maine summer vacation guide! Do as much or as little of it as you want. Sponsored by Down East magazine.
Maine Trail Finder 3.0
Announcement - Thursday, May 23, 2019 

The Center for Community GIS has launched the third version of Maine Trail Finder with the same great trail maps and descriptions and lots of new features.
Climate action
Action Alert - Tuesday, May 21, 2019 

Urge legislators on the legislature's Environment & Natural Resources Committee to support climate action via the governor’s bill, LD 1679. ~ Natural Resources Council of Maine
Ban Aerial Herbicide Spraying for Deforestation
Action Alert - Tuesday, May 21, 2019 

Before May 23, urge legislators on the Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry Committee to support LD 1691, An Act To Ban Use of Aerial Herbicide Spraying for the Purpose of Deforestation. ~ Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Oyster Farms & Seal Watching Tours, May 25-27
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 18, 2019 

Oyster Farms & Seal Watching Tours will run every day, 2-4 pm, during Memorial Day weekend. At Damariscotta. Benefits the Fish Ladder Restoration Project.
Birding for Kids, May 25
Event - Posted - Saturday, May 18, 2019 

A hands-on workshop for families. At Curtis Farm Preserve, Harpswell, May 25, 9 am. Sponsored by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust.
L.L.Bean & Maine Audubon Birding Festival, May 24-26
Event - Posted - Friday, May 17, 2019 

Boat trips, guided walks, live bird presentations, workshops, kid’s crafts, and activities with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. At Freeport vicinity, May 24-26.
Forestry for Maine Birds, May 23
Event - Posted - Thursday, May 16, 2019 

Free workshop on forestry management for bird conservation. At Head of Tide Preserve, Belfast, May 23, 12-3 pm.
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News Items
All 4 MDI towns now have banned plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam food containers
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

All four towns on Mount Desert Island have now banned commercial distribution of single-use plastic retail shopping bags and polystyrene takeout food containers. On Monday, voters in Tremont heavily favored both bans. Last month the Legislature approved a statewide ban on polystyrene food containers, but that ban does not go into effect until 2021. The bans are seen as environmental measures that will reduce the amount of plastic that gets into the environment, especially into the oceans, where the substances break into ever smaller pieces and then are ingested by fish and other sea life.
Column: Inspiration found all over Maine
Kennebec Journal - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

There are a lot of inspiring people, groups and projects in Maine. As an outdoors person I’m inspired by all the land trusts and environmental groups working to protect everything we love about Maine. Local land trusts are particularly inspiring, including my favorite, Kennebec Land Trust. And groups like The Nature Conservancy have protected a large amount of Maine’s best lands. Dianne Winn and Marc Payne at Avian Haven in Freedom have inspired me. Avian Haven has treated more than 26,000 birds over the years, plus lots of wild animals. ~ George Smith
Opinion: Program that protects America’s outdoor places deserves full federal funding
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Appropriations meets to decide what the Land and Water Conservation Fund is worth. The fund was reauthorized March 19, but days later the Trump administration proposed draconian cuts to LWCF. In Maine, LWCF has invested approximately $190 million over the past five decades, helping to ensure recreational access for outdoor activities in places like Acadia National Park. LWCF state assistance grants have supported hundreds of projects across Maine’s state and local parks and forests. All of this plays an important role in growing Maine’s outdoor recreation economy, valued at over $8 billion annually. LWCF does not cost taxpayers. The money is from a small portion of the royalties paid by oil and gas companies to drill offshore. ~ Michael B. Murray, Brunswick, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Letter: Legislature must step up to stave off climate change
Portland Press Herald - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

I find it disheartening that businesses are reluctant to endorse a bill that requires 50 percent of Maine’s electricity to be generated from new, renewable sources by 2030. We face catastrophic climate change, and yet some are quibbling about a few cents added to our electric bills. Small wonder schoolchildren are marching in the streets. In southern Maine, most new homes are still designed to be heated by oil or gas, and insulated with rigid foams that have a huge carbon footprint. As for transportation, the short-term outlook is not much better. If the average Mainer isn’t ready to alter his or her behavior, then we have to rely on the Legislature to set standards that will get us where we need to go. ~ Joe Hardy, Wells
Letter: Roadside cleanup
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

I, along with many others, recently participated in roadside clean up. As expected, we griped about and wondered why anyone would throw out their trash inappropriately. In the May 2 edition of the BDN there was an article on Boston Brands large investment in Maine and how Fireball “nips” have taken off. I can attest that sales are indeed doing well by the amount of empties on the roadside. While wanting and needing business investment in Maine, perhaps businesses could help discourage the “swig and toss/eat and toss” mentality. ~ Katherine Olson, Northeast Harbor
Letter: Salmon farm opponents not an enemy
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

Contrary to some of the statements by proponents of the Nordic Aquafarms proposed project in Belfast, both Local Citizens for Smart Growth and UpStream Watch are two groups of concerned residents working hard to promote conservation, protection and restoration for this part of midcoast Maine and Penobscot Bay. They are not the enemy of Belfast city government or of residents with differing opinions about the proposed project. They have spent much time and concerted scientific effort in considering the real possibility of many decimating impacts on the bay, the land, the fresh water supply and the Little River’s ecosystems that such a project could bring about. They have been transparent with their findings and stand by the results of their legal and scientific research. ~ Conny Hatch, Belfast
Letter: Carbon fee can help secure stable climate
Bangor Daily News - Wednesday, May 15, 2019 

It’s encouraging to read that electric vehicle charging stations are being installed at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. In addition, Bangor Savings Bank has built an energy efficient-building utilizing solar energy and geo-thermal heating along with charging stations in its parking garage. Both initiatives demonstrate leadership and a vision to a clean energy future. There is a bipartisan, revenue-neutral, market-driven bill right now in the U.S. House of Representatives: H.R. 763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. It places a gradually increasing fee on carbon, and returns the money to households, thereby actually growing the economy and creating jobs while incentivizing the transition away from fossil fuels. This is a great opportunity. ~ Connie and Paul Potvin, Hampden
Opinion: Safer food packaging will benefit all Mainers
Bangor Daily News - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Two groups of ubiquitous chemicals that threaten human health: phthalates and PFAS. Consumers can urge national retailers to make changes to ensure that phthalates and PFAS is not in packaging. But states must also take action to create protective policy, especially in the face of inaction at the federal level. LD 1433 would update current Maine law by requiring manufacturers to phase-out PFAS and phthalates by 2022. It would also authorize the DEP to name other priority chemicals in food packaging and require disclosure, assessment of alternatives or phase-out. State governments have a responsibility to protect the people of the state. We in the faith community affirm that task. ~ Rev. Richard Killmer, Yarmouth
Arctic Ocean region tops out at 87 degrees as carbon dioxide hits record high
Washington Post - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. Taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change. Eighteen of the 19 warmest years on record for the planet have occurred since 2000.
Power companies and their critics clash over proposal for consumer-owned utility
Portland Press Herald - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Creating a public power authority in Maine could lower rates and improve the reliability of electric service, or it could plunge the state into an unknown and risky undertaking and costly litigation, a legislative committee was told Tuesday. The idea of Maine buying the state’s two investor-owned utilities – Central Maine Power and Emera Maine – and creating a consumer-owned power authority surfaces periodically, but it has failed to gain traction in the past. CMP’s fumbling of a recent billing system changeover, however, as well as lingering frustration from widespread power outages following a 2017 storm, have breathed new life into the concept.
Lawmakers Hear From Public On Proposal To Buy Maine’s Private Electric Companies
Maine Public - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

An ambitious proposal to convert Maine’s private electric utilities into a consumer-owned entity got its first public hearing in Augusta on Tuesday. Rep. Seth Berry, a Bowdoinham Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s utility committee, says the state should create a new, public grid authority, along the lines of others in Maine and the nation. It would be called Maine Power. But critics warned that the buyout’s price tag could hobble the plan right from the start. Emera and CMP in 2017 pegged their combined book value at more than $4 billion, which observers believe is far lower than what they might ultimately have to be paid in a state-mandated sale.
Portland to treat Deering Oaks Park trees to stop spread of destructive moths
Portland Press Herald - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Officials in Maine’s largest city say they’re getting ready to deal with an infestation of a destructive forest pest in one of the Portland’s most prominent public spaces. Portland officials say the parks department has been monitoring oak trees in Deering Oaks Park and has identified a “limited infestation” of browntail moths. The moths are capable of killing trees, and their caterpillars have poisonous hairs that can cause a rash in humans.
Is sea rise wrecking coastal home values? The answer: Maybe
Associated Press - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Some research suggests rising sea levels and flooding brought by global warming are harming coastal property values. But other climate scientists note shortcomings in the studies, and real estate experts say they simply haven’t seen any ebb in demand for coastal homes.
Maine's High Court To Hear Appeal In 10-Year-Long Fight Over Access To Southern Maine Beach
Maine Public - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

A ten-year-long fight over access to Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport returns to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court Wednesday. Kennebunkport won a lower court ruling that found the town does hold title to the beach, the result of deed language that pre-dates the development of homes along the beachfront. But an attorney who represents the beachfront homeowners says the lower court erred in not recognizing the language in newer deeds as being valid. In an earlier stage of the case, the town tried to argue that longtime public use of the beach earned it ownership rights. The Supreme Court rejected that argument.
MDI man will let bugs eat dead whale’s flesh. Then he’ll salvage the skeleton.
Bangor Daily News - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

The skeleton of a well-known humpback whale whose corpse washed ashore on Cape Cod earlier this month will be preserved by a Mount Desert Island man who plans to clean and reassemble her bones. And if it is granted permission from federal officials, the Maine State Museum hopes to add Vector’s skeleton to its collection and display it inside the Augusta museum.
Opinion: Maine towns should have a say in for-profit transmission projects
Portland Press Herald - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

Unlike the power lines that provide reliable electricity for Maine consumers, the Central Maine Power corridor is a commercial, for-profit project, and just like any other business or developer, CMP should have to abide by the rules of the municipalities in the region that are affected. These local ordinances were enacted democratically. No utility should have the right to supplant local control simply because it seeks greater profits for its shareholders. That’s why the Legislature must pass L.D. 1383 to protect towns and property owners. The bill gives local government a say in whether eminent domain can be used. ~ Elizabeth Caruso, first selectman, Caratunk
Letter: Merrymeeting Trail deserves support
Kennebec Journal - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

I would like to express my enthusiasm for the Merrymeeting Trail. L.D. 1141 would direct the Department of Transportation to put Merrymeeting Trail into its work plan, a critical first step toward its construction. The idea of having a beautiful path from Topsham to Gardiner is exciting on many levels. The benefits include increased physical and social well-being, increased economic activity, as well as providing everyone — Mainers and tourists — the opportunity to enjoy nature and have more access to the beautiful Kennebec River. We are all encouraged to get more exercise, and this path would provide such a fantastic avenue to do that. If you’d like to see the Merrymeeting Trail become a reality, let your legislators know. ~ Carol Minnehan, Richmond
Letter: Rockweed harvest still valuable
Bangor Daily News - Tuesday, May 14, 2019 

In March, the Maine Supreme Court issued a decision that shocked those who make their living from marine resources. The court ruled that rockweed in the intertidal, unlike clams and worms, was not held in trust by the state but owned by the landowner. Seaweed harvesters and aquaculture folk have supported a bill, LD 1323, that would essentially overturn the court’s decision. But the court did not say that rockweed could not be harvested, only that harvesters needed the landowners’ permission to cut the seaweed growing on the rocks of their privately-owned intertidal land. Maine rockweed harvest in 2018 was valued at approximately $1 million. Why can’t the harvesters gain the landowner’s permission by paying for the privilege of harvesting this valuable resource? ~ James Knowles, Kittery
Scientists link warming of Gulf of Maine to decline in right whales’ food supply
Portland Press Herald - Monday, May 13, 2019 

Scientists have established firm links between the warming of deep waters in the Gulf of Maine and the reduction of food for the North Atlantic right whale, the world’s second-most endangered marine mammal. The researchers, led by Nick Record of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay, showed the warmer water in the eastern gulf has sharply reduced the numbers of the whales’ favorite prey, the copepod Calanus finmarchicus, a tiny flealike creature they scoop up by the millions with their sieve-like baleen. The rapid warming since 2010 has triggered winter population declines of the copepod of as much as 90 percent.
Auburn council may suspend curbside recycling for a year
Sun Journal - Monday, May 13, 2019 

The Auburn City Council is expected to vote next week on whether to suspend its curbside recycling program for a year after officials questioned rising costs and declining participation. During a workshop Monday, officials debated the merits of zero-sort recycling, with some suggesting the city’s bimonthly pickup be suspended temporarily in order to completely restructure the system. A growing number of municipalities across the state, facing tough markets for recycled materials, have halted or reduced recycling programs, even as officials from environmental organizations are urging patience.
Jay rejects special town meeting on CMP project
Sun Journal - Monday, May 13, 2019 

In a tie vote Monday, the Select Board rejected a citizens’ petition requesting a special town meeting to vote on Central Maine Power’s 145-mile hydroelectric transmission line through Western Maine. The 2-2 vote meant the motion to advance the petition failed. Selectpersons have voted twice to support the nearly $1 billion project, once unanimously and once with a majority. Most of the more than 40 people at the meeting spoke against the project, saying it was a bad deal, while one resident spoke in support of it.
Activists hold ‘Goodbye CMP’ party in Lewiston
Sun Journal - Monday, May 13, 2019 

A group of environmental activists, including one dressed as a spotted salamander, rallied Monday to press for a plan to create a public utility by buying out Central Maine Power. The privately-owned electricity delivery company has had its chance, said Rob Levin of Portland, “and they’ve blown it.” About 20 people gathered beside a Central Maine Power facility on Monday to show their support for a bill introduced by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, that would create a consumer-owned utility to replace the longtime power provider.
Cape Elizabeth to charge nonresidents for prime parking at Fort Williams
Portland Press Herald - Monday, May 13, 2019 

About 1 million people visit Fort Williams Park every year, and now most of them will have to pay to park in prime spots closest to Portland Head Light and scenic paths overlooking Casco Bay during the park’s busy season. Driven by increased tourism and rising maintenance costs, the Town Council decided Monday to install a pay-and-display parking system at the 90-acre park. Starting in July, nonresidents who park in “premium” parking areas will be charged $2 per hour for a two-hour minimum or $10 for a full day. Three parking areas to the rear of the park will remain free to all visitors during the tourist season, and parking will be free throughout the park November through April.
Bangor to ban single-use foam containers 1 year before statewide ban
Bangor Daily News - Monday, May 13, 2019 

The Bangor City Council has agreed to ban the sale of food and drinks in polystyrene foam containers starting next January — a full year before a similar, statewide ban is due to take effect. On Monday night, the council voted 5-3 to pass the ban, which will apply to Bangor vendors that sell food and drinks in plates and cups, along with stores that sell repackaged food. It will also prohibit stores from re-selling polystyrene foam containers, and the city government won’t be able to either purchase such containers or contract with companies that do. In April, Gov. Janet Mills signed into law a similar, statewide ban that will take effect in January 2021 — and that made Maine the first state in the nation to pass such a ban. But the Bangor councilors who voted in favor of implementing the local ban in January 2020.
Company planning to make insulation at former Madison mill receives $250,000 grant
Morning Sentinel - Monday, May 13, 2019 

A company planning to produce wood fiber insulation out of the former Madison Paper Industries mill has received a $250,000 grant for product testing and marketing. GO Lab Inc., a Belfast-based building products manufacturer, received the grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Wood Innovations Grant program, according to a news release from the company Monday. Although the sale of the former mill is not yet final, GO Lab is planning to take over ownership by the end of the year and start renovations in 2020 to outfit the site for wood fiber insulation manufacturing.
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