Here are some highlights from February 2023 news stories and opinion pieces related to Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife. News & Noteworthy from the Natural Resources Council of Maine is updated weekly with the latest news related to the nature of Maine.
February 24, 2023
Let's start this week off with some beautiful Maine wildlife photos by NRCM member Dave Small of Old Town. Dave was featured in a recent Bangor Daily News story (thanks for the NRCM shout-out, Dave!). And we have featured some of Dave's photos in a slideshow on our website, as well as in publications, including our Nature of Maine calendar.
While we are on the topic of Maine wildlife, we encourage you to read this Portland Press Herald article about species that the state wants to add to the endangered species list. Those species include the Saltmarsh Sparrow, Ashton's cuckoo bumble bee, and more. NRCM supports the bill (LD 57), and Dr. Jeffrey Wells recently testified at the hearing. Read his testimony.
And finally this week, NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett is quoted in this article and this article about Wolfden's new mining proposal for Pickett Mountain and how the Patten Planning Board members are skeptical of promises made by the company. Learn more about this proposal and why NRCM opposes it.
February 17, 2023
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of landowners against the Nordic Aquafarm proposed for Belfast. It was decided that the rights to the intertidal zone belong to the landowners, many of whom opposed this project. Another salmon aquaculture project is being proposed for Millinocket.
This winter, Maine temperatures are breaking records — coldest day and warmest day records were broken less than two weeks apart! Now, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute reports that the ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine almost beat the record for the warmest year, just short of the 2021 total by less than a half a degree. So, 2022 was the second warmest year on record for the Gulf of Maine, which is warming at a rate faster than 99% of the world's oceans.
Read this powerful op-ed by Darren Ranco of the Penobscot Nation about climate change and its potential for devastating effects for Indigenous people in Maine.
Did you know that Maine has one of the largest networks of female hunters in the United States? Read this Portland Press Herald article about Christi Holmes, a Registered Maine Guide, and her work.
Wolfden has submitted a new application to create a mine at Pickett Mountain near Baxter State Park and the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. The company says it has made major changes, but NRCM and others concerned about Maine's environment disagree.
This isn't a Maine news story, but NRCM has been involved for years in the Aveda Institute's Earth Month Trashion Show where students create outfits out of recyclable materials. Money from the show is donated to NRCM to help support our clean water work. Well, Miss Thailand in the recent Miss Universe pageant had a similar dress — check it out.
ICYMI, Fortunat Mueller, cofounder and president of ReVision Energy, wrote a recent Bangor Daily News op-ed about how Maine-made solar power is saving Mainers money and fighting climate change at the same time.
We've mentioned climate change in several news stories this week, but right now, as we look out our windows at heavy rain in mid-February, it's a good reminder that climate change is stealing our winters and the money to our economy and to local businesses who focus on winter recreation.
But let's end on a positive note: Governor Mills announced in her State of the Budget address this week that she has set a goal of 100% of Maine's electricity coming from renewable energy sources by 2040. She will submit legislation related to this goal soon.
February 10, 2023
We've shared a lot of news stories and editorials about the need to remove four dams from the Kennebec River between Waterville and Skowhegan in order to protect the endangered Atlantic salmon. NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett is quoted in this latest piece from Trout Unlimited. Learn more about what you can do to help protect salmon and other sea-run fish.
Have you installed a heat pump in your home? How did they do during last weekend's record-setting cold temperatures? We've heard from several people that their heat pumps worked perfectly despite temps in the double-digit negative numbers. Read more about Mainers and their heat pumps in this Washington Post story.
NRCM's Josh Caldwell testified early in the legislative session in support of a bill that would give free State park admission to all Indigenous people. The bill passed through Committee this week.
Josh, NRCM's climate & clean energy outreach coordinator, also testified in support of a bill to add electric bikes (e-bikes) to the electric vehicle rebate program through Efficiency Maine.
Speaking of electric vehicles, soon there will be fast-charging electric vehicle chargers in Baileyville, Presque Isle, and Fort Kent in northern Maine.
And now speaking of northern Maine: a grant from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Recreational Trails Program will help pay for a new 0.3-mile trail in Patten, in Aroostook County. The trail will be located behind the Patten Lumberman's Museum.
NRCM Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Todd Martin testified this week in support of a bill to require new regulations for above-ground oil tanks, including the ones in South Portland.
February 3, 2023
Did you know that NRCM has a Regional Outreach Coordinator in Franklin County? Well, we do! His name is Marc Edwards, and he and other NRCM staff are working with Franklin County communities and beyond on a variety of projects, including bringing Atlantic salmon back to the Sandy River. Read more in this Sun Journal story.
The Maine Legislature will discuss many bills this session related to protection of Maine's environment and climate. One bill had a public hearing yesterday. This bill would establish a zero-emission vehicle-to-grid pilot program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. NRCM supports this bill. You can read our testimony on this and other bills throughout the session on our bill tracking page.
Another bill NRCM supports is one to fully fund a pilot project called the Maine Climate Corps. NRCM Climate & Clean Energy Outreach Coordinator Josh Caldwell testified on the bill and is quoted in this Sun Journal news story.
Electric cars and trucks can qualify for rebates from Efficiency Maine, and a new bill would add electric bikes (e-bikes) to those rebates.
Maine's lakes are treasured by Mainers and visitors alike. They are also a large part of Maine's economy. A bill (LD 164) being discussed would increase funding for lakes protection and restoration. NRCM Staff Scientist Nick Bennett testified in support of this bill this past week.
Five more Maine public schools will be getting the majority of their electricity from a new solar array in Livermore Falls. Those schools are: Camden Hills Regional High School and the Camden-Rockport School District, Mount Blue Regional School District (Farmington area), Hope Elementary School, and RSU 73 (Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls).
A new report shows that if companies are made to pay for the waste that they produce, recycling could increase by almost 50%. Maine was the first state in the nation to pass an Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging law that will require companies to pay for that waste, saving Maine taxpayers millions of dollars. Learn more about EPR for Packaging and NRCM's involvement in Maine's first-in-the-nation EPR for Packaging law. And, if you live in a state that hasn't passed such a law, we encourage you to check out our resources to help you work to get a law like this passed.
This winter and spring, make plans to visit the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland to view works by Maine artist Mariah Reading who takes trash and turns it into beautiful artwork. This Bangor Daily News article better explains her art: "As part of her artistic practice, she takes refuse found in nature and paints it to blend in with the landscape — things like an Adidas slide sandal from Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota; a scuba flipper from Channel Islands National Park in California; and sunglasses from the Grand Canyon." Mark your calendars to view this exhibit, along with 35 other artists from or with ties to Maine, from January 28 through May 7.
The other news today is the record-breaking cold temperatures predicted for today through tomorrow. My fingers are cold already as I type this. Please stay warm and inside as much as possible. Bundle up. Check on your neighbors. And many Maine communities are offering warming centers for anyone who needs them. Here is a list to find one close to you.