Oct 29, 2009

ME Coastal Waters Conference - audios of speakers and audience

Maine Coastal Waters Conference October 28, 2009. Audio mp3s.  See state website of the conference. The event had 10 sessions 
Paul Anderson, Maine SeaGrant Welcoming remarks
George Lapointe Introductions by Maine Marine Resources Commissioner
Angus King: "Ocean related energy"  BDN on King's speech
Dr Susanne Moser, UC Santa Cruz: "Let's talk Climate: Communication for Effective Community Engagement 

Workshop 4 Community Participation in Management & Conservation of Coastal Ecosystems
Heather Leslie, Brown University . On framing your message, locally, nationally 
Paul Dest, Damariscotta River Association Engaging the community with preserving coastal resources
John Sowles, ex-DMR Ecology Director Local ecosystem based resource management in Taunton Bay
Workshop audience Q&A 32 min.

Workshop VII Tools for dealing with natural resources & human uses at the community-level
Chris Feurt, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve "Collaborative Learning for Communities"
Beth Bisson, Maine SeaGrant "Seascapes"
Shey Conover, Island Institute "Using Community GIS"
Jennifer Atkinson, Quebeb/Labrador Foundation "Muscongus Bay Community Atlas"
Question and Answer Period

Oct 28, 2009

Angus King calls for energy isolationism at Maine Coastal Waters Conference

Wednesday's Maine Coastal Waters Conference, in a high end conference hall that squats atop what  once was the Ducktrap Deeryard, was cool.

Audio mp3s of speakers at  event Click Here

Keynote speaker didn't make it: Monica Medina, Sr Advisor to NOAA's Administrator, was taken ill yesterday. But folks said good things about her.

This gave the next speaker, ex-Governor Angus King, plenty of time to dole out his usual heaping serving of what one can only call  energy isolationism.  Non-Maine-originated energy is consumed instate to the tune of 2.5 billion dollars per year. "And we get nothing in return!" King declared, as if the use by Mainers of all that energy for  heat, transportation, light, computing, health services, entertainments etc,  is somehow "nothing".  King compared Canada to Malaysia,  drawing similarities between the pipeline importing  natural gas  to the US from Canada  and  the pipeline supplying about 40% of  the island of Singapore's freshwater  from its mainland neighbor.  Lacking lakes or rivers, Singapore is setting  up desalinization and more rain catchments and water recycling  plants to supply itself with its own water;  King seems to think  Mainers should view Canadians as seeking to control our energy; we must patriotically cover our state's lands and waters with windfarms to protect ourselves from the Menace from the North.

King finally ran out of gas, and University of California scientist Susanne Moser followed.  Her topic: how to communicate climate change to the masses. Her suggestion - sort your audience and tailor your comments thusly: are your listeners: Alarmed/Concerned/Cautious/Disengaged/Doubtful or Dismissive of Global Climate Change? Figure it out, then speak using their belief system, their values.  

For a national campaign, Dr Moser said,  what must be communicated is: Urgency, Empowerment, Unity,Visibility, Results, Practicality, and the existence of Supportive and Enabling Policies.  

One of the challenges facing the campaigner is that fact that, even if  the world's humans  stopped all burning of coal and petrol tomorrow, there would be NO NOTICEABLE DROP IN THE ATMOSPHERE'S CO2  LEVELS  FOR ABOUT ONE THOUSAND YEARS.

Hard to do the "urgency thing" armed with that statistic!

 Sick of energy peddlers and doomsaying, I sought refuge in the Marshall Point Room, where a  talk was held on "Community participation in in the management and conservation of coastal ecosystems". 

Here former DMR ecology director John Sowles, Paul Dest, director of Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Mark DesMeules of the Damariscotta Watershed Association. This was more my style/

"I don't like the words "Marine Protected Area" Sowles said.  But he has taken part in "bay management" of  Maine's Taunton Bay, a small bay a wee bit downeast of Mount Desert Island,

Paul Dest - a happy man - as anyone who runs an estuarine research reserve must be - explained the town by town negotiations under the Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea program that has protected much land in the surprisingly unspoiled six town watershed of Maine's southern border area, from Mt A to the Gulf of Maine. It is not easy to get town governments to commit time and energy to areas beyond their municipal limits, Dest said, yet this is absolutely necessary if one is to have watershed level management. The burden is on the activist, not the towns, to carry this out.

More later.  Nice chow & good coffee at the event. 100s of anthropocentrists.

Oct 27, 2009

Penobscot Bay shallow waters protection plan to kick off at Maine Coastal Waters Conference on Wednesday

Group to kick off Penobscot Bay protection plan at 2nd annual  Maine Coastal Waters Conference at  the Conference Center atop Ducktrap Mountain in Northport.

In addition to renewable energy and climate change's impacts to the Gulf of Maine conference attendees willl consider  Community participation in the management and conservation of coastal ecosystems .

An example of such community action began with last week's  granting by Maine Department of Marine Resources of a special license to Ron Huber, executive director of  Penobscot Bay Watch.  The  license allows group's members to use a 60 foot long small mesh beach seine net to catch and release nearshore juvenile cod and and other small fishes once a month at three locations along the shore of West Penobscot Bay: Stockton Harbor, Searsport Harbor and Rockland Harbor.

Captured fish and invertebrates will be photographed and  their size and color itemized, before they are released alive back into their homes.

"Sampling Maine's nearshore coastal waters for the presence or absence of our native fishes and crustaceans is vital to understanding the ecological health of the most vulnerable part of Penobscot Bay's  ecosystem, its nearshore waters" Huber said.  "We can't know where to go, unless we know where we are." 

"This shallow zone from low tide to 6 feet deep is  an ecological front line. It is where polluted runoff and shoreland development can have their most harmful effect."  Huber said.  "It is extremely important for a fishery recovery of Penobscot Bay that these shallow aters are watched over very closely. Penobscot Bay Watch aims to do just that."

Huber said that people interested in helping with the survey  to contact his group at 691-7485 or by email at ron.huber@penbay.org.  "It's strenuous but  a lot of fun," he said. describing pulling in the seine as "like playing Tug of War with Neptune."   Further information is available at the Penobscot Bay Watch website www.penbay.org

Penobscot Bay Watch: People who care about Penobscot Bay

Oct 20, 2009

Waiting for Big Blue/Green & Red, White& Blue to get GOM HAPC happening

On the coast of Maine.  We wait for Big BlueGreen to lift its sluggish head from the climate change trough it is feeding at. It is time to stand at the shore of the sea, midwifing what to developers & polluters may seem a monster, but to the rest of us, a blessing,

Time to get organized, NOAA is implementing new federal marine fish habitat rules over the entire coastal shallows (low tide to 30 feet deep) (see map of Vinalhaven & North Haven) of the entire New England coast: Narragansett Bay of Connecticut/Rhode Island up to Passmaquoddy Bay at the Maine/New Brunswick border, on behalf of and to the betterment of inshore atlantic cod schools that should be thronging those shores, common as mackerel.

And will again, perhaps, if their old home is freed from pollution, dredging, filling and the rest of the insults we humans dole out so blithely to Neptune's wild Atlantis holdikngs. Read summary of federal inshore cod plan, with maps (3pg pdf)

Oct 14, 2009

Here comes that Sears Island umbrella again!

The word on the bay is that MDOT has just shipped out to the federal agencies the state's new umbrella mitigation plan for MDOT. The previous one offering 2/3 of dismembered Sears Island as the first "deposit" in its mitigation bank, was sent packing some months ago.  What must MDOT Commissioner Cole be thinking this time? What has he come up with?

It better be something new. For according to one federal agency staffer, "so far, there has been good overall agreement between the Corps, EPA, NOAA, and [US Fish and Wildlife Service]  that little or no credit should be given for direct wetland impacts in exchange for the preservation of 600 acres of Sears Island. "

In response, Senator Dennis Damon and his Transportation Committee members are hopping mad. They are discovering that they may well have been suckered by Governor B and the ecoyuppies. If they thought that giving  the Land Trusters 601 acres of Sears Island was going to allow logging clearing blasting, paving and dredging within the 340 acre industrial zone, then they were mistaken. Sorry. Nope. Not in the eyes of God or the Army Corps of Engineers.

The fedsters did allow that  "indirect impacts (fragmentation, non-point source runoff) from MEDOT projects would make sense for credit."  But not compensating for the Godzilla footprint a containerport like this would have on Sears Island.

Oct 10, 2009

Sears Island & the Vision of 2006: how the mighty have fallen!

At the July 12 2006 meeting of the Sears Island Planning Initiative Steering Committee,  "visions" of the future of Sears Island were expressed, from full island protection to construction of a variety of industrial port types.  The Maine Dept of Conservation has kept a 42 page compendium of these land use visions as a pdf file on the state website. Below are excerpts from a few of the many, just to show  the remarkable change of heart of some people and organizations, and the stick-to-it-iveness of others.  Click here for the Department of Conservation's pdf file of visions.

A joint Letter by Scott Dickerson of MCHT, Jim Freeman of Maine Earth First!, Steve Miller of Islesboro Islands Trust, Becky Bartovics of Penobscot Bay Alliance,  Sierra Club's Joan Saxe and others: "Our vision is founded on these two core recommendations: that the entirety of Sears Island be permanently committed to conservation, outdoor recreation, and environmental education; and  that Mack Point, as one of the three ports of Maine, be fully utilized, enhanced, and expanded."

How easily and how thoroughly these core recommendations went by the wayside!  Only months after their utterance, the above signatories were jointly signing another document - this time  calling for division of Sears Island!

 A few others...
Anne Crimaudo :“My concern is the preservation of critical habitat and the impact on the ecosystem that  any type of development would have. 168 species of birds, 28 mammals and 9 amphibian and reptile species have had documented sightings on the island.  The island is an incubator of many life forms and is an important nursery habitat for marine species in Penobscot Bay.”

John Wardwell, Lane Construction. We have in Maine several gravel pits and quarries that are accessible to rail lines and others in close proximity which would allow trucking to the facility.
Given that the island has plenty of land available next to the berth to stockpile andhandle bulk materials which could be backhauled on the same vessels would help lower the freight rates and make sure more competitive and substantially help the economy and provide jobs in the State of Maine.”

John Melrose: "Of the very few miles set aside for marine cargo handling, Searsport is distinct due to the extent of shoreline controlled by marine transportation interests. We believe the compromise struck over 25 years ago must be honored; the merits of the compromise are even stronger today and diminishing the shoreline available to the Port of Searsport broadly undermines a most significant component of our State’s maritime heritage and future."

Who knowns what 2010 will bring?

Oct 4, 2009

FOPSI /PBW meeting participants agree: ultimate goal is one Sears Island, undivided.

Friends of Sears Island  met October 4 2009 at the Yardarm Motel in Searsport. The group was formed in 2004 but incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non profit only last year.  Its mission is ostensibly to steward only the 601 acres of the island under conservation easement, and ignore the other third of the island which is in peril of port speculation.

Special Guests Ron Huber of Penobscot Bay Watch and Harlan McLaughlin of  Fair Play for Sears Island examined how deeply the group is attached to the 601 acres-only stewardship limit, by urging a larger approach to protecting the full island. They found little if any resistance to the notion, but FOSI is presently focusing on the introductory baby steps as a newish organization with little if any budget.


* Sears Island advisory group described (run by MDOT)

MDOT  David Cole, Duane Scott and Deane Vandusen 
MDEP Andrew Fisk
MCHT Doug McMullen and Ciona Albrecht
CMLT Scott Dickerson 
Searsport Bob Ramsdell repping

Comments noted this was very top heavy with govt types, and likely to be not very useful for conservation purposes.

* FOSI Next Steps.   Build a kiosk/information signboard at the entry way with a map & other info.
  Seek grants.

* FOSI Grant Proposals
The group has grant proposals out to Maine Dept of Conservation, for  $8-10K for an  Ecological Survey  and a lesser amount for trail maintenance from the Conservation Corps(?)
* Trails Expansion Much discussion fo grooming the trails and getting permission to open up new ones.  Difficult to have an island  perimeter trail  because the wetlands that top the bluff along west side of the island would need major boardwalks to do it without stopping up the wetlands flow of nutrients onto the beach and bay.  The island's western beaches are fully submerged at high tide.   

* Promotional events: kayak races, swim round the island races, Strongly urge group to specifically do around-island events so not pigeonholed to the 601 acres only but identifies with protecting entire island.

* On skiing Noted that state requires crosscountry ski trails to be quite wide - more than the Sears Island path people want to go.

* Aquaculture proposal Billy Vaughan the Massachusetts based would-be oyster aquaculturist has not applied for a lease next to the Sears Island causeway, Nor has he followed up on his offer to be part of the shellfish committee either.

* Refuge HQ proposal USFWS selected Rockland over Searsport but their negative depction of the Searsport site may inhibit other potential scientific tenants of the island.

* Eco-World?: No educational center proposal has surfaced from MCHT or anyone else, yet

* Mack Point - FOSI hopes to still promo Mack Point over Sears island. Islesboro Islands Land Trust, FOSI  and Sierra club feebly  protested MDOT's consultant's determinatin tht mack Point isn't suitable Suggestion that Offshore wind energy task force interested in bilding a port at Sears Island to offload windmill parts.

* Jimmy Freeman is off the FOSI bus. His presidency of that outfit was bringing unwanted "fire" down on the FOSIs. They appreciated the stairway, though, and were quite put out by the mocking poster someone had emplaced nearby. But, Jimmy brought the fire down upon himself by tattletailing of Sears Island defenders plans to the authorities,  by his suppression of port opponents in Maine's green communities, and by his threats on behalf of the governor's plans. He has forever cast his true allegiance in doubt among environmentalists (beyond the Freemanistas who do his bidding irregardless of his behavior.)

* Ecological survey Suggested the value of expanding survey to include the beaches, intertidal areas  and shoal waters all the way around the island. 

* Beach seine surveys to be done around island by Penobscot Bay Watch using university seine.- Could FOSI take part?  Yes.  It was observed that shortnose sturgeon were unexpectedly detected by use of nets in waters north of Bucksport

* Other data sources. Poorly researched upper bay because of the politics of pollution and Sears Island.  Check with universities and suggest research plans for university professors to take to their students looking for things to do their theses or doctorates on.  Unity College did some research on Sears Island beach recently.

* Get schools involved.

Nice meeting. Harlan and Huber left satisfied that  they'd give the FOSIs some ideas to exploit.

Oct 2, 2009

Maine offshore wind farms to be R&D only - State

On September 29th, the Maine Geological Survey and Maine Coastal Program hosted a public info meeting at the Samoset on the state plan to establish sites in Maine state waters for research on offshore deepwater windfarming. Media coverage  Here and Here  Listen below  to a  presentation by State Geologist Bob Marvinney describing the proposed windfarm areas off our coast, and to the lively question and answer period that followed. The state also issued maps marked off in 1 mile squares showing proposed windfarm areas offshore, and now asks the public for info on these locations.

Introduction by Paul Anderson, Maine SeaGrant (6.5 min)
Presentation by Bob Marvinney, Maine Geological Survey (32 min)
Questions and Answers I Bob West, Rockport; Sid Quarrier, Appleton; (9min)
Q&As 2 Ron Huber (9min)
Q&As 3 Dana Hutchins
Q&As 4 Richard Warner, St George; a person from Edgecomb, (13 min)
Q&As 5 Becky Bartovics (8 min)
Q&As 6. Liz Dickerson (8min)
Q&As 7. Richard Podolski; Ken Shule.(5.5min)
Q&As 8 Metinic Lobsterman (12 min)
Q&As 9 Jim Hayes, Rockport (6.5min)
Q&As 10 Ragged Island lobsterman (5min)
Q&As 11 Diane Rector, Liberty (6.5min)
Q&As 12 Jim Wadsworth, Warren. (5min)
Q&A 13 Metinic lobsterman Post 2 (15 min)
Q&A 14 Diane Rector(2) to Meeting End (9.5min)