Apr 29, 2008

Sears Island: Natural Areas Program says 'Nothing special here, JUPC, party on!'.

Maine Natural Areas Program has produced an important if misleading report on Sears Island's marine and upland wildilfe and habitats for the Joint Use Planing Committee. Read it here: BayBlog's html version __ MNAP's pdf version

The Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee appears to have accepted it as proof that their proposed container port and recreational facilities would have little if any impact on the island's upland, intertidal and marine resources.

Thus satisfied, the Committee has moved on to quibbling over the details: dimensions of their planned rail yards, how many education center buildings, how many acres of port pavement, the nature of the "wetland mitigation bank" value that the island's natural areas would have when MDOT markets the island to would-be port developer.

But, not so fast there. Let's examine this report, written by Lisa St. Hilaire of the Maine Natural Areas Program that purports to show that JUPC's development plans would have no environmental impacts.
It begins with a general description of Sears Island including the island's geology, soils, and history of land use (did you know the Penobscot Indians of today translate the name Wasumkeag quite differently from their ancestors?); summarizes the island's marine fisheries and its upland wildlife; ponders what rare animals and plants might be there - and what common? Then a look at the bigger picture of what natural communities of these plants and animals exist on and around the island, and finally, consideration of the island's wetlands, fresh and salt.

St. Hilaire then crunches the above data and predicts the port and a recreation center's impacts. Her prediction?

"Effects on regional biological diversity due to the cargo terminal project are expected to be minimal because the species and communities on Sears Island are common for the Penobscot Bay area."

But precisely how does a container port that would be bigger in size and service bigger ships than Angus King's '90s cargoport, have minimal to no impacts, when King's plan was shot down for threatening far less harm to marine, intertidal and upland wild resources than a Port Baldacci would have?

As any honest ecologist will say, some species and communities are individually common, but there is nothing like the combination of them all in one location on the Maine coast . EPA tore Maine DIFW a new one in a 1995 letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, then Maine DMR too , after DMR and DIF&W made feeble claims of 'nothing but common Maine species there' back then, at King Angus' bidding.

Nor are estuarine nursery waters along an island at the head of Maine's biggest bay, that nourishes and replenishes the bay's reviving nearshore schools of groundfish a "common" phenomenon...They are at the far end of the Penobscot River plumeentering the bay that collects larvae from the island nurseries and shunts like a conveyor belt down the west side of the bay, to disperse in the fertile waters lying between the Saint George peninsula, Monhegan and Matinicus Island. An area that in addition to cod and haddock, hosts New England's largest lobster populations.

By not looking at Sears Island's important ecological role in the ecology of Penobscot Bay, Lisa St. Hilaire has failed to see the forest for the trees. JUPC-ites have been given false assurance that their proposal for a container port will be benign with only minor localized impacts, when it most assuredly will not.

Apr 28, 2008

Why lobster drag fisheries are a bad idea.

When the introduction of fossil-fueled fishing boats made mobile bottom trawling of the Gulf of Maine possible in the 1870s, the US Fish Commission's first report to Congress warned against allowing "this evil" to be used here. The state of Maine shortly thereafter had to ban lobstering with dragger gear in her waters.

The ban still holds in Maine waters and with good reason. Check out some of these sequential images of two dragger hauls of lobster made near the mouth of Penobscot Bay a few years ago graphically illustrating how this method of fishing - still legal in Massachusetts and Federal waters - can cause easy overharvesting of these crustaceans. The catches were made lawfully as part of the twice-annual Maine/New Hampshire trawl survey

The survey is controversial among lobstermen who once drove the survey vessel off their fishing grounds off downeast Maine.

Big issue for them: about 12 percent of lobsters captured by dragger gear, then bounced along the rocky seafloor in the cod end, claws and spines puncturing each others bellies and faces, breaking each others legs, then dumped on board, die from their injuries.

Others, particularly young and new shell (newly moulted) lobsters, are crushed by the cables and trawl doors scraping the bottom while the gaping bag between then flips aboard those .

There are also culls (non-lethal claw amputations) among young and moulting lobsters caught up by draggers in their nets.

From the stand point of lobstermen, regulators, environmentalists and many researchers, dragging for lobsters is unacceptably damaging to the stocks.

It also captures older broodstock lobsters that cannot fit into traps, removing a large portion of that important age group from the lobster community.

DMR's response to public release of videotapes documenting the research trawl expeditions was to stop taking them, beginning in2002 -- a dreadful loss to scientific posterity and a stupid reaction to the good natured public jokery about some of the antics on the tapes by a PPH columnist who viewed a copy.

Public interest anger by Penobcot Bay Watch about censoring the tapes in late September 2001 wasmet with silence, then a Coop-Extension mediation meeting/encounter session with John Sowles, state Marine Ecologist, followed by more silence. Perhaps these people of the future will see things in these hours and hours of research trawl catch videos that we in our primitive early 21st century ignorance cannot.

Fluttering herring and flatfish accent the eruptions of startled lobsters from the net.

They are often joined by muscular young cod and hoary old barnacled lobster behemoths doing pratfalls down the squirming mass of their wild neighbors.

Sturgeon, sponges, the whole panoply of marine life along our shores is laid before the eye in undignified dishabille.

All are telling us something. We should be paying close attention. Not censoring the survey videos to protect an occasional epithet (horrors!) from one of the fishermen and scientists carrying out the elaborate trawl survey in all weathers.

Please re-start videorecording your trawl survey catches, Maine DMR!

Apr 25, 2008

Sears Island: Lines in the sand.

Someone upset with the Sierra Club's position on Sears Island made his or her own position clear while visiting Wassumkeag. The writing says " Sierra Club Betrays Sears Island"

Apr 23, 2008

'90s Sears Island activists up in arms over JUPC "deal"

A groundswell of concern is becoming a wave of anger as activists and others who stopped Angus King's 1990's Sears Island port plan and Governor Baldacci's 2004 LNG port plan learn the details of the deal that conservationists on the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee have struck with the shipping industry and Maine Department of Transportation.

The Sierra Club in particular has drawn fire for being signatory to the agreement, which has yet to be ratified by an increasingly suspicious Maine Legislature.

The Club was instrumental in preventing a port from appearing on Sears Island in the 1980s and 1990s, and again in 2005.

Now? Sierra Club's present position (in an email from Conservation Chair Ken Cline to a port critic) is

"We have ensured that 2/3 of it will be protected for ever, but we need all the help we can get to protect the remaining part."

But Ken...Didn't Sierra Club read the fine print before signing the MaineDOT agreement? The agency has clearly stated over and over that protection of two thirds of THEIR island - remember MDOT is on the deed as agency in control of Sears Island - is contingent on the other third of the island becoming a cargo port. No port = no park. Its as simple as that.

What can we non-signatories to the deal do that doesn't bring the whole deal tumbling down? Would it better to bring it down?

Time to hit the beach! Unconditional surrender by Maine DOT! We'll accept no less.

Outta the way, Sierra Club!

Apr 22, 2008

Sears Island: Legislature says - Fix JUPC plan and get back to us in December

Evidently the Maine Legislature is not terribly enthused by the output so far of the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee.

According to the final few paragraphs in the latest Sears Island article by Waldo County Citizen reporter Tanya Mitchell, about the April 11 meeting of the committee in Searsport, there is...

"some division within the Transportation Committee about whether to support the process."

"Some of the representatives had misgivings about what the ultimate success was going to be here" Duane Scott, JUPC administrator for MDOT is quoted as saying. Scott observed that Transportation Commissioner Cole's report to the Maine Legislature's Transportation Committee on the JUPC's progress "went well, despite interruptions".

'Interruptions?' Duane's not referring to citizen hecklers in the audience. Rather the legislators were interrupting Cole's delivery.

MDOT's Scott fretted, according to reporter Tanya Mitchell, that "Some were caught up in all the history that has brought us up to this point in time."

And what a history that is.

At least, according to Mitchell, MDOT's Duane Scott appears to believe the committee members were "supportive of what we have accomplished up to now."

Ah but now the bottom may fall out of the plan. What about the impact of inevitable eelgrass loss and its well-predicted negative effect on lower Penobscot Bay fin and shellfisheries, that the National Marine Fisheries Service objected to 13 years ago? The Joint Use Planning Committee has yet to discuss the impacts to marine resources that should have played a role in the committee's delineation of a potential port zone right from the start two years ago.

That it hasn't bodes ill for meeting the legislature's December '08 deadline

Apr 20, 2008

Plastic pollution-a problem at the marine microbe level

Plastic pollution is one of the tragedies of modern technology. Example: on the macro scale, for example, untold millions of plastic cigarette lighters float in our rivers, lakes and seas.

Swallowed by seabirds, fish and and marine mammals, they may stay there, indigestible. Once the host has expired and decayed, the little ovoid cylinders pop loose and return to the surface, tempting yet another fish, bird or mammal to continue the ugly cycle until...? Plastic is well nigh indestructible, in biologic time.

Going from nature's macrocosm to her microcosm, a new study done for KIMO, a consortium of European coastal towns and associations focusing on marine pollution, found that microplastic particles are being found in in great number in Swedish and other coastal waters. Small enough to be eaten by larval fish and shellfish, as well as by protozoa and other marine microanimals. With...similar results?

While this problem has been known for the past few years, the new study found that the amount in seawater is actually up to a thousand times more than had been understood. The new study used a plankton net with a finer mesh than others had, and lo and behold, many more plastic particles. Small enough to be devoured by marine microorganisms.

Please read the KIMO report, (link below) if you've time. It's an 11 page pdf file. Well worth the reading and viewing. You'll gain a understanding of the nasty little plastic strands and blobs that we as a species release into the world's waters.

Small plastic particles in Coastal Swedish waters. (11 page pdf file)
By Dr. Fredrik Norén, marine consultant, N-Research www.n-research.se

About the marine protozoa who are ingesting microplastic

The KIMO report notes the sad physics of micro-plastic as pollution accumulators:

"Given the fact that organic pollutants accumulate on the plastic particles (Mato et al. 2001), this amount of small particles is extraordinarily serious since the area/volume quota of the particles increases with smaller particle volume (a large amount of small plastic particles may be a larger vector of organic pollutants than fewer large ones)."

Plastic microparticles attract pollutants onto their surfaces. Then the little one celled animals ingest them; themselves being consumed; the pollutant biomagnified or concentrated each strand higher of the food web. So consider polluted microbes, bioaccumulating whatever pollution adhere to the plastic microparticles they innocently ingest.

Isn't it time we began caring for our micro-ecosystems? The one-celled are the most abundant living organisms on earth, after all.

Image: Science Daily

Apr 19, 2008

Sears Island: don't worry, be happy.

Here's the scoop from the Soup's Tanya Mitchell
Read her article "Coast Guard: No 'show stoppers' in Sears Island joint use."

The Coasties say there may be boat exclusion zones (presumably kayak exclusions zones too)
They say that only vehicles entering the island will be subject to search. Pedestrians won't. Given enough surveillance cameras, they say, even a fence between the port zone and natural areas won't be necessary. .Big brother, it seems, will be watching

Apr 18, 2008

Gulf of Maine EBM Toolkit Survey Report

The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment was established in 1989 by the Governments of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts to foster cooperative actions within the Gulf watershed, with a mission to "maintain and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations."

The Council has a new report out on Ecosystem-Based Management. As most of its members are planning agencies from the 5 different political entities, GOMCME has no direct power to change the way fishing, development and waste discharges are handled.

But it does come out with useful publications, though they tend to be....repetitive. Their latest publication is entitled "Gulf of Maine Ecosystem-Based Management Toolkit Survey Report"

Ecosystem-based management often seems unnecessarily mysterious or technically rarified. It isn't. Its the way that intelligent natural people have done it for millenia:

Don't foul your own nest. Be aware of the effect of your actions on the rest of the ecosystem of which you are a part. Don't take more than Nature can bear losing. Live lightly upon the earth, our collective nest.

Modern humanity, though, needs something a bit more techie. Enter EBM.

What one does, to practice Ecosystem Based Management is as follows:
Use data from informed stakeholders and other high quality sources to assemble virtual ecosystems or key ecosystem processes. Then generate scenarios showing the likely consequences of different fishery, pollution of development actions on these ecosystems and processes and on the economic users of the ecosystem. Use the knowledge gained to inform decisions about development, fishing, pollution, etc.

Can we/willwe apply EBM to our regulatory system? The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment certainly hopes so.

Be kind to tadpoles; don't use atrazine herbicides

Tadpoles aka baby frogs, develop deformed bodies and gonads from exposure to the popular weed killer atrazine, and now Tufts university researchers have discovered, damaged hearts and impaired kidneys and digestive systems when exposed to the widely used herbicide in their early stages of life, . See media release here.

Atrazine is used to control broadleaf and grassy weeds on golf courses and residential lawns,. Farmers use it to treat corn and soybeans. Atrazine blocks photosynthesis once it is absorbed by plants.

Organ morphogenesis is a brief, extremely sensitive phase in the tadpoles' growth cycle when they are starting to develop organs:brain, heart kidneys etc. Exposure to atrazine during organ morphogenesis, the researchers found, caused the tadpoles to develop the damages noted above as well as brain damage.

Will our spring peepers and wood frogs vanish as lawns and crops are kept uniform monocultures through herbicides?

Apr 14, 2008

Sears Island as container port.

The nightmare unveiled... Just popping up on the Maine Department of Conservation website is a review of setting up a container port on Sears Island. Read it here (short pdf)

The 'white paper' is called Container Terminal Parameters: A White Paper Prepared for Maine Department of Transportation January 30, 2007 By The Cornell Group.

The two images from the report shown here depict , below: the layout for a two berth container ship port and top: a standard one-berth container ship port at work.

Needless to say, the "white Paper" is entirely mum about the sorts of environmental impacts that might be expected from one of these operations. No mention of fish, lobsters.

Sadly, even the word "environment" doesn't appear.

Apr 12, 2008

Bagaduce River slowed by 15% if tidal turbines installed?

The Tidal Energy Device Evaluation Center (TEDEC) operated by a consortium that includes Maine Maritime Academy proposes to run a variety of experimental turbines and other kinds of water energy devices in the Bagaduce river.

The idea is to take advantage of the powerful flow of water through the Bagaduce Narrows; turbines and other devices will collect energy from the water moving into and then out of the tidal Bagaduce River.

Another capital idea for electricity sans burnt hydrocarbons.

Don't let's forget to look at the bigger picture. Not much bigger; the Bagaduce is a small pocket watershed. Perched near the top of Penobscot Bay with Castine at its mouth, the Bagaduce River stretches a dozen miles in a shape best described as a lower case "h" with Castine at the bottom of the main stem of the "h", vast mudflats at the top of the stem, and oysterfarms inteh curving part of the h.

Consider this. A report written by the power consortium notes that the Bagaduce Narrows power operation could result in a "15% Energy Withdrawal" from the river at the narrows.

If that means that the Bagaduce River could face a 15% drop in current velocity, then there are implications for the filterfeeders upriver; both the natural and the aquacultured ones. Would the amount of planktonic prey delivered to these shellfishes' fixed locations per tide cycle be reduced by 15%? That would be problematic for the river's oyster farmers, whose productivity and hence income would decline by $15%. Not to mention the natural mussels, clams and other filterfeeding invertebrates residing in the river, all of whom rely on spot-on delivery of food at just the right time and in the right amount.

Reduced current=less prey species=less shellfish. Yes or no? Who can say? Nothing in the MMA materials available so far appears to examine this vital question. Just keep in mind that the energy taken from the river is energy no longer available to things living in the river.

No free lunch. We are simply be taking the oysters, clams and mussels' lunches!

Let's get this answered before going too much further.

Sears Island - an end-point for Atlantica?

A recent report in New Hampshire Business Review notes the Maine DOT's desire to have a port on Sears Island part of the "Northeast CanAm Connections project"

In the article Hope glimmers for regional east-west highway by Elizabeth Penney, Penney writes:

"The Northeast CanAm Connections project is looking at both adequacy and opportunity in highway, rail, air and marine infrastructure, said Fred Michaud of the Maine Department of Transportation, sponsor of the project. ..... Michaud would like to see development of the deep water ports in Searsport, Maine, and Halifax. “Ports on the West Coast are backed up. New York is congested. With increased ship traffic through the Suez Canal, we have an opportunity to attract trade.”

Uh oh. That plural used in that phrase "ports in Searsport, Maine" should be ringing warning bells. Read complete article

Apr 11, 2008

Sears Island - new advisory council will ignore likely container port impacts

Below is a transcription of the April 10, 2008 draft of a "Concept Paper for a Sears Island Conservation Area Advisory Council" that will considered at Friday's meeting of the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee.

The Council would evolve from the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee, which in its planning ostensibly reviewed all elements of the proposed joint uses: port, natural areas and educational center.

The new entity, a "Conservation Area Advisory Council" will focus solely on the natural areas and educational center while washing its hands of the element most likely to harm the bay's environment. The element most in need of public oversight - the container port plan. That element will be overseen by....well, nobody but the porties themselves.

But don't worry! The Advisory Council will oversee licensing of the Sears Island 'brand', so one needn't fret about unauthorized Sears Island teeshirts and bumperstickers. The Council would do well, though, to consult with the Penobscot Indian Nation if it seeks to license "Wassumkeag" - the island's name for most of the past 5 thousand years. Its the least they can do, since they've declined to consider protecting the archaeological assets that document the Penobscot's many generations who occupied the island.

Draft Concept Paper for a Sears Island Conservation Area Advisory Council

1. Background
Sears Island, a 941-acre island in upper Penobscot Bay, is owned by the State of Maine and managed under the jurisdiction of the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT).

As proposed by the Joint Use Planning Committee, an initiative established by the Governor of Maine, and if approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on Transportation, the island will be divided into two different areas: a 341-acre potential Transportation Area and a 600-acre Conservation Area that will be placed under a perpetual conservation easement and managed for outdoor recreation, education, and protection of ecological resources.

Construction and maintenance of trails, parking areas, buildings, and other structures necessary to deliver services for the intended uses are expected improvements in the Conservation Area. Such improvements will be allowed and limited under the terms of the conservation easement and are subject to all applicable local, state and federal land use regulations.

Management of the Conservation Area will likely be conducted under a license agreement between the MDOT and one or more other entities. For instance, an environmental education institution or agency might enter into a license agreement that covered the construction and use of a visitor-education center, while a non-profit organization might enter into a license agreement to manage the trails and lands outside of the building area.

Because the MDOT is neither statutorily charged with managing lands for the uses of the Conservation Area nor has staff and other resources relevant to such management, the Joint Use Planning Committee has proposed that an Advisory Council be established to assist the MDOT in the decision process concerning appropriate management of the Conservation Area. This Concept Paper will outline the role and composition of the Advisory Council.

2. Role of the Advisory Council
The Advisory Council will provide the knowledge and experience of its members to the MDOT with the goal of facilitating effective management of the Conservation Preserve. In its effort to meet that goal, the Advisory Council will review and comment to the MDOT on the following matters concerning the Conservation Area:

• policies and practices concerning management;
• management plans;
• plans concerning buildings and other substantial improvements;
• issues arising from the terms of the conservation easement;
• license agreements; and
• other matters that will arise from time to time that have significant impacts on

The Advisory Council does not have the power to approve or disapprove of final decisions concerning management of the Conservation Area. Its role is to counsel the MDOT in that agency's jurisdiction of the Conservation Area and related management decisions. However, MDOT reserves the right to convey or assign certain decision-making authority to the Advisory Council as MDOT deems appropriate.

3. Composition of the Advisory Council
The Advisory Council will be composed of one representative from each of the following, or comparable, agencies or non-governmental organizations:

• Maine Department of Transportation, which will act as chair;
• Maine Department of Conservation;
• Town of Searsport;
• Town of Stockton Springs;
• Licensee(s) of the Conservation Area;
• Holder of the Conservation Easement;
• Friends of Sears Island;
• Penobscot Bay Alliance; and
• Coastal Mountains Land Trust.

4. Term of the Advisory Council and Schedule of Meetings
The Advisory Council is intended to be a continuing committee in providing its counsel to the MDOT, and is not established with a specific term of years of operation. The Advisory Council will meet as often as necessary to fulfill the role described above, and not less than once per year.
End of draft concept paper

Apr 9, 2008

Sierra Club supports industrializing Sears Island

Say it ain't so, Joan !

Shocking but true, the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club under the leadership of Joan Saxe has endorsed the building of an industrial port on Sears Island - a natural island long a preservation jewel in Sierra Club's crown. (The area in green would be sacrificed to industry.)

Read A summary of the present and a historic record of the past Sears Island situation

How the Sierra Club - which almost singlehandedly prevented the creation of a port there in the 1990s, and again in 2004 - allows its Maine chapter to spend meeting after meeting debating with captains of industry and government officials at meetings of the Sears Island Planning Initiative, tamely acquiescing in converting a third of the 900 acre island into an industrial sacrifice zone, with dreadful consequences for downbay fisheries--has perplexed many.

Sierra Club re-founder David Brower must be spinning in his grave!

Maine Sierra Club member Ken Cline, whose legal wizardry saved the island from woodchip port-dom in the 90s, now hunkers down on Mount Desert Island, tending his student flock at COA. His powerful defiance of the collective furies of John McKernan, Angus King, Olympia Snowe and the global transportation industry in steadfast defence of Sears Island and Penobscot Bay now oddly damped to conspicuous silence.

Vivian Newman - toughest and smartest of them all, Vice-Chair of the Sierra Club's National Marine Wildlife and Habitat Committee, frequent visitor to Sears Island, sworn to defend that which the Maine chapter's leader Joan Saxe has signed off a death warrant upon; seriously vexed by the direction things are going - Maybe she will rise to the occasion

One of the raisons d'etre for the Club's NMFWC is to "Build national and regional networks to support the work of chapters and groups on other coastal/marine issues as needed, including coastal development, shoreline erosion, ports and navigational dredging; provide information, technical assistance, and referrals."

That's what Sierra Club has always done, to the great benefit of Natre.

On July 18, 1994, the Sierra Club (and CLF) sued MDOT for violating the Clean Water Act in building the causeway, clearing land and filling wetlands on the island. A Consent Decree was signed three years later, on April 9, 1997. When the dust had settled, MDOT had been ordered to:

"restore 3.2 acres of wetlands at the cargo terminal site on Sears Island, restore and enhance a 0.75 acre wetland on south-central Sears Island, provide streambank stabilization and wetlands enhancement at Dyer Creek in North Newcastle, Maine, and expend at least $100,000 on the acquisition and conservation of Atlantic Salmon habitat on the Ducktrap River." Note: the
final consent agreement item, protecting Ducktrap River salmon habitat was recently met.

Sierra Club's national magazine touted the protection of Sears Island as "A wetland win" The club's then-president J. Robert Cox wrote:
"Combatting the Maine Department of Transportation's plans to build a cargo port at Sears Island made the last 13 years busy ones for Maine Sierra Club activists. Though the 940-acre island in Penobscot Bay provided habitat for 70 percent of the state's wetland species as well as an important flyway for neotropical birds, the agency rejected an alternative site at industrialized Mack Point. The agency flouted environmental law by neglecting to prepare an environmental impact statement and then, when forced by a Sierra Club lawsuit, delivered an EIS that ignored 200 acres of freshwater wetlands on the island. Each time the agency submitted redesigns for the port, Sierra Club lawsuits showed them to be inadequate. Club activists rejoiced when the Army Corps of Engineers finally rejected the project this February."

Is there rejoicing now among club activists?
No? Why not?

The Maine Chapter's first statement this latest go-round on Sears Island, titled
“Preservation and Port: a Recipe for Prosperity is on their website

The statement starts off well, noting

"The Sears Island Planning Initiative is uniquely charged by the Baldacci Administration with developing recommendations for the future use of the 940-acre island in Penobscot Bay. If implemented, the recommendations could end thirty years of public controversy."

It continues by calling for "permanently protecting Sears Island as an educational and recreational asset", while encouraging "full utilization of Mack Point, using best available management practices, to address the financial needs of Searsport and its transportation connections with Central and Northern Maine. "

Again it states "that the entirety of Sears Island be conserved, and that trails and management facilities be improved to fulfill its future as a regional ecotourism asset, also supporting the local economy."

The statement closes with a flourish: "The Port supported; the Island protected -- A Win/Win scenario."

Current economic and shipping information indicates that Mack Point has the potential to satisfy all marine transportation needs of Maine’s central region for the foreseeable future.

In bland sprawl-speak the Maine Chapter describes its position on Sears Island thusly:

"In a win/win scenario for jobs and preservation, participants in the Sears Island Planning Initiative announced their proposal Preservation and Port: a Recipe for Prosperity." (rtf file)

What?... Hello.....? Sierra Club?

Apr 8, 2008

Sears Island wetland kill mitigated on Ducktrap River shoreline

According to the April 8 edition of Maine State Planning Office's Weekly Highlights (pdf) the state planning office's Land for Maine's Future division has just spent the funds from the Sears Island Consent Decree, buying the Emery property: (photo) 200 feet of Ducktrap River shoreline, totalling two acres, to protect resident Atlantic Salmon spawning and juvenile habitat of that stretch of the river. Protecting the river's salmon habitat has been an ongoing process.

Here's the entry from the April 8th edition:

"SEARS ISLAND MITIGATION FUND. The Emery Parcel, Lincolnville, Waldo County. The
Land for Maine’s Future Program is responsible for administering other funds. Working
in partnership with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust, who pre-acquired this parcel,
LMF administered Sears Island Consent Decree funds to enable the Maine Department
of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to acquire this 2.11 acre parcel. It was acquired to protect
Atlantic salmon habitat along 200’ of the Ducktrap River as well as to provide road
access to adjacent conserved lands. CONTACT: Steve Brooke at 287-6736 or Steve
Brooke or Tim Glidden at 287-1487 or Tim Glidden."

Abby Burgess retrieves lost bay lobster traps

From the Lobster Fact Blog

The U.S. Coast Guard is called upon this time of year by bay fishermen to do what they can’t — haul massive tangles of lobster traps and gear from the depths of Penobscot Bay.

Early Monday morning, as the sun began to rise over western Penobscot Bay, the Coast Guard cutter Abbie Burgess slipped out of its Rockland berth and headed for Two Bush Ledge, about seven miles south of Owls Head.

Working in conjunction with Maine Marine Patrol officers Brian Tolman, Matt Talbot, and Wes Dean, and Owls Head lobster men Scott Herrick and Jeff Woodman, the Abbie Burgess crew set out to help recover what would likely be dozens of lobster traps. (Full story)

Apr 7, 2008

Maine Port Safety Forum April 10th: LNG, whales, ice,, more.

Port Safety Forum Thursday

The quarterly Port Safety Forum meeting comes up this Thursday April 10 at 10am at the Portland Ocean Terminal. Below is the agenda and some bits from the previous meetings' minutes.

* Right Whale Sighting Update – Kristen Koyama, NMFS

* Development , feedback of NWS Marine forecast- John Cannon, NWS

*Historical Tide Levels-Steve Dickson, Maine Geological Survey

* Demolition of Waldo/Hancock Bridge-Maine DOT

* TWIC Update- (commercial sailor ID's) Al Moore USCG

* LNG Update-Al Moore, USCG

* Ice Season (Reporting, breaking requests, etc.) CWO Chase, USCG

t their last meeting, the Forum discussed a "Penobscot Bay maritime issues forum"
This was proposed by John Henshaw head of the Maine Port Authority under the Navigation committee. ..."Dredging and other topics would be discussed among various groups with a variety of interests: Pilots, MMA, environmental groups etc. would be perhaps involved.

There should be a followup on the Penobscot Bay maritime issues forum at this meeting.

More info:
Kevin Rousseau, MDOT Office of Freight Transportation
(207) 624-3565 kevin.rousseau@maine.gov

Apr 3, 2008

Sears Island - who gets to carve it up?

Like the West divvying up the Ottoman Empire, the players aboard the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Commission are poised to slice up Sears Island .

Today's Republican Journal's article today
"How will Sears Island be managed?" by Tanya Mitchell, describes how on March 28th, the
Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee
"wrestled" over how the 600-acre conservation area will be managed once the planning ends and any activity there begins.

The ever-more-tightly-closed-circle of 'deciders' making up the Joint Use Committee have consensed on giving Maine DOT -big winner this go round of attempts to slag the island- two presents: a free hand in port configuration, and an iron hand over the conserved part of the island.

Expect commissioner Cole's post DOT future to be most richly rewarded, should he deliver Sears island to the global industrial transportation network.

How the mighty have fallen! Observe the state to which even once visionary Earth First! activist extraordinaire Jim Freeman has come. This formerly indomitable defender of natural Sears island, and to this day an implacable opponent to the E/W highway, the Transamerica NAFTA highway and all those global corporate byways and highways strangling our planet, has consensed and signed off on a port configuration for Sears Island that will double the amount of cargo containers entering and departing Maine by rail and truck! A port that will stimulate the East West Highway, and will tie neatly into the NAFTA highway from Mexico to Canada. But that is just what Mr. Freeman has done. According to Mitchell's article:

"JUPC member Jim Freeman said if a group like Friends of Sears Island was interested in occupying the island, it would need to draft a use plan and meet with the council to discuss its intentions. would go through a bid process that would spell out details on intended uses for the island and associated construction costs. Once the final proposals and bid information is compiled, Freeman said, DOT will make the final decision."

While Jim is unarguably a contractor par excellence who has played a role in the revitalzing of downtown Bangor, turning use of Sears Island into a biddable competition is not likely what the Great Spirit had in Mind for Wassumkeag's shining sands.

Perhaps a Sears Island live call-in show should be organized on WERU Community Radio which has featured Sears Island in earlier years There, Freeman and others of the Sears Island Joint Use Planning Committee can explain their new plan for Sears Island to the local Maine environmental community.