Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is warning of unhealthy air in parts of the state.

The agency has issued an air quality alert for Friday because ground-level ozone is expected to reach unhealthy levels.

The alert applies from Kittery, Maine, to Acadia National Park.

The National Weather Service says the air quality alert accompanies a shift in the weather pattern, with hot and humid air coming in from the south.

Patty Wight / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - Advocates for solar power say Maine is falling behind most other states in its ranking for solar capacity.

Environment Maine today released its fourth annual report on solar energy in Maine. Owen Mansfield is a campaign organizer for the group.

"In this year's ranking, Maine dropped to 27th in per capita solar capacity, and 34th in total solar capacity," Mansfield says, "after ranking 24th and 29th respectively in both categories last year."

BOSTON - Federal authorities say much of the Northeast is experiencing drought conditions, with sections of New York and Massachusetts among the driest.

The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday that western New York, the state's Finger Lakes region, as well as much of central and northeastern Massachusetts are experiencing severe drought conditions. The severe conditions extend into southern New Hampshire and southwestern Maine.

"Severe'' is the third most serious of five drought intensity levels.

BOSTON — The federal Environmental Protection Agency is warning that Friday’s air quality in parts of New England could be unhealthy for some people.

The regional branch of the EPA says air in coastal Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and southern and central coastal Maine could have exceed the Federal air quality standard for ozone.

The agency is recommending people in those areas limit strenuous outdoor activity.

It has been a dry spring and summer so far across New England. Southern New Hampshire and parts of Maine are coping with parched conditions, but it’s not all bad news.

In New Hampshire, several municipalities have instituted water restrictions through October. In Maine, Portland’s rainfall levels are lagging by about 4 inches.

“Southern Maine here is in what we’d consider a moderate drought category right now,” says Tom Hawley, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Gray. “Extreme southern York County is in a severe drought.”

Chris Ford / Flickr/Creative Commons

When it comes to communicating climate change, there can be a thin line between making things seem completely hopeless in the world and making adaptation and even mitigation seem possible.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine wildlife officials are looking for help researching the decline of bats in the state.

Biologists with the state Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife say white-nose syndrome has hit Maine’s bat population hard, and some bat species have declined by as much as 98 percent.

The state is asking residents to report bat colonies to the Maine Bat Colony Identification Program via an online survey. They say the survey will help biologists locate existing colonies and assist with understanding the health of the state’s bat population at large.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — Acadia National Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

The park began its life as the Sieur de Monts National Monument, created on July 8, 1916, by President Woodrow Wilson. It became a national park in 1919 and assumed its current name 10 years later. Later, John D. Rockefeller Jr. directed the construction of the popular network of carriage roads.

Acadia was the nation’s first national park in the East, and it was the first park created entirely through private donations.

WESTBROOK, Maine - Police in Westbrook say a snake the size of a car in length was found feasting on an animal believed to be a beaver on the banks of the Presumpscot River.

An officer patrolling the Riverbank Park area spotted the snake, which has been dubbed "Wessie'' and the "Presumpscot Python'' by residents on social media, at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

After a second officer arrived on the scene, police say the snake finished its meal and swam across the river to the Brown Street side before disappearing.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

Millions of Americans visit Maine’s Acadia National Park each year expecting a quality outdoor experience featuring some of the state’s most iconic landscapes. But unhealthy air quality in the region is forcing some hikers to change their plans.

PORTLAND, Maine - The University of Southern Maine is hosting a day-long conference about the impact of ocean acidification on the state's coastal waters.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes ocean acidification as a change to the chemistry of the ocean over an extended period of time due mostly to uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some environmentalists refer to it as the "evil twin'' of global warming.
Wednesday's conference is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hannaford Hall in the Abromson Center.

Two days after a kayaking guide and one of his customers died after waves swamped their boats off the village of Corea, the state’s kayaking community is taking stock of the sport’s inherent dangers, and paddling on.

It’s a beautiful, mildly breezy day on Casco Bay on Friday, and Oxford Hills resident Saphire Robinson is getting ready to put an open-cockpit kayak in at Portland’s East End ramp.

This is her second time out ever, and she says the deaths of a New Jersey man and his Maine guide Wednesday has sharpened her awareness of the risks involved.

PORTLAND, Maine - A water company that serves much of southern Maine is proposing a new, $50 million treatment plant on the Saco River.  
The Maine Water Company's existing water treatment plant in Biddeford is more than 120 years old. Company officials say it's time to build a modern plant to serve 21 communities from Biddeford to Scarborough - and maybe beyond.

By Michael Casey, The Associated Press
DOVER, N.H. - An ambitious program to bolster the population of the threatened New England cottontail in New Hampshire and Rhode Island appears to be working.

About 36 rabbits have been released in New Hampshire since 2013, and upward of 1,000 acres of young forests, shrub land and thickets that the rabbits depend upon for shelter and food have been restored. Around 70 rabbits have been released in Rhode Island, while a Maine release is pending state approval.

A proposal by the National Park Service to change its rules concerning naming rights in the parks is drawing fire from lawmakers – including members of Maine’s Congressional delegation.

Think of a big sign at the beginning of one of the carriage roads at Acadia proclaiming: “You are about to bike on the Coca Cola Carriage Road.” Or when you go to Jordan Pond at the park to grab a sandwich you see a sign that reads: “You are at the Verizon Jordan Pond House.” Far fetched? Many lawmakers don’t think so.