Environment and Outdoors

Environmental news

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.

Nora Flaherty / MPBN

PORTLAND, Maine - With colony collapse disorder decimating honeybee colonies across the United States, environmentalists are looking to raise awareness of the problem.

At a Portland press conference this morning, Environment Maine's Andrew LaVogue said if something's not done, colony collapse could seriously impact the food supply.

"We rely on bees to pollinate 71 of the 100 crops that provide 90 percent of most of the world's food." LaVogue said.

MONSON, Maine - The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is opening a new visitor center for hikers preparing to enter Maine's fabled 100-mile Wilderness.

The visitor center, which opens Monday in Monson, is aimed at helping the ATC and partners better manage the increased volume of long-distance hikers, especially after the film "A Walk in the Woods'' premiered last year.

ELLSWORTH, Maine- A plan to better manage facets of the Northeast's ocean and coast will be the subject of a hearing in Ellsworth, Maine.

The hearing about the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan is scheduled for Monday night at Ellsworth Public Library. The ocean plan is an outgrowth of the National Ocean Policy established by presidential executive order in 2010.

The plan deals with many aspects of ocean planning, including marine life and habitat and commercial and recreational fishing. It also discusses national security.

PORTLAND, Maine - A group of wildlife researchers will meet with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September to discuss a conservation plan for the salt marsh sparrow.

Researchers with a group of universities have been tracking the little birds and say eight out of every 10 of the sparrows has disappeared in the last 15 years.

The sparrows live in coastal areas from Maine to Virginia during breeding season. University of Maine professor Brian Olsen says coastal construction and sea-level rise have hurt their populations.

Maine’s 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has introduced legislation to exempt a hydro system in Washington County from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licensing requirements.

In a press release, Poliquin says the purpose of the bill is to protect jobs and block what he calls “unfair overreach” by FERC. But others say the bill bypasses necessary oversight.

A.J. Higgins / MPBN

It took 16 years and more than $60 million, but the Penobscot River Restoration Project is now complete, and one of the state’s mightiest rivers has been reconnected to the sea.

Courtesy MDI Laboratory

PORTLAND, Maine - The MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor is asking citizen scientists for help figuring out why eelgrass is disappearing from coastal Maine.

But people don't have to wander the coastline and gather samples; MDI Senior Staff Scientist Jane Disney says they can go to the citizen science website anecdata.org and put a green marker where they've seen eelgrass recently, or a red one where there used to be eelgrass.

For the first time, wildlife officials in Maine are trapping and collaring great blue herons in an effort to determine why their numbers seem to be falling in certain areas of the state.

Danielle D’Auria, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says the department is being assisted by visiting bird experts as well as a number of Maine students in grades 1 through 12.

For the last month, students have been catching fish and setting up bait bins to lure the birds.