The non-hydropower dam on lower Montsweag Stream in Maine was removed in November 2010 with the goal of restoring fish passage
Photo courtesy of Laura Wildman, PrincetonHydro
A new $6 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s EPSCoR program will fund a four-year study examining the future of dams in New England. This project marks an expansion in partners and scope for the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), adding Rhode Island to the existing partnership between Maine and New Hampshire.
NEST was launched in 2013, when Maine and New Hampshire began an innovative collaboration focused on increasing the safety of coastal beaches and shellfish beds threatened by bacterial pollution and other microbial pathogens.
NEST is designed to respond to societal challenges where economic and community development goals need to be balanced with environmental protection. Such sustainability objectives are not only of central importance in New England, they also represent national and global imperatives.
This new tri-state collaboration will strengthen connections between scientists and decision-makers about a number of potential dam options, including maintaining existing hydropower dams, expanding hydropower capacity, and removing aging dams to restore fisheries or reduce safety risks. By examining economic, environmental and social tradeoffs, the project will help individuals and communities make better decisions about dams.
The project is highly relevant given that hydropower is a major source of renewable energy in New England. More than 50 hydropower dams are scheduled for relicensing in the next decade, requiring states to make important decisions about their futures. The region is also home to thousands of iconic milldams that are an integral part of New England’s industrial history and continue to provide recreational and water supply benefits for many communities. But some of these milldams pose safety and liability risks due to their age and poor condition. Both hydropower dams and milldams can also have adverse effects on coastal ecosystems and economies, particularly because they often block the migrations of economically important fisheries. This project will empower stakeholders to make complex decisions about dams by taking the innovative step of combining the best available science with creative forms of community engagement.
New England has received widespread recognition for its innovative approaches to the management of dams. “This new project will greatly enhance New England’s role as a national and global leader in finding better ways to support informed decision-making about dams,” said Richard Merrick, chief science advisor and director of scientific programs at NOAA Fisheries.
The research is designed to support the process by which stakeholders evaluate the many trade-offs associated with potential dam decisions, including removal, relicensing and retrofitting. Because a single watershed often contains many dams of different sizes and types, the project will focus particular attention on developing tools that facilitate coordinated decision-making. “NEST’s emphasis on basin-wide decision-making has the potential to generate much better environmental, social and economic outcomes than can be achieved if decisions are made (dam by dam) in an independent and uncoordinated manner,” said Mike Tetreault, director of the Maine office of The Nature Conservancy.
The multistate NEST team believes that solutions to sustainability challenges require a collaborative approach in which researchers from the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and the humanities combine their expertise. In Maine, the researchers include David Hart, Sharon Klein, Bridie McGreavy, Darren Ranco, Sean Smith, and Joe Zydlewski from UMaine as well as Karen Wilson from the University of Southern Maine. NEST’s approach to problem solving also benefits from the local knowledge and know-how of diverse stakeholders representing government, business and industry, and nongovernmental organizations. One of NEST’s greatest strengths is its ability to develop customized solutions that are tailored to meet local needs and circumstances.
The Maine project team is led by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. The Mitchell Center has gained national and international recognition for its innovative approach to stakeholder-engaged, solutions-focused, interdisciplinary research.
The NSF news release about the project is online.
Contact: David Hart, Director of the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, 207.581.3257; Ruth Hallsworth, Strategic Program Manager, Mitchell Center, 207.581.3196
WABI (Channel 5) reported on Upward Bound’s 50th anniversary reunion at the University of Maine. Upward Bound provides support to youth from low-income families to prepare for college. The goal is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from colleges and universities. Participants from the past five decades reunited in Orono to celebrate the program, and many said the support from the program encouraged them to go to college, according to the report. Program director Becky Colannino said Upward Bound has served about 2,000 students. The Maine Edge also carried a UMaine news release on the program’s anniversary.
The University of Maine’s “Think 30″ program was mentioned in a Portland Press Herald article on college debt in Maine and around the country. Schools, including UMaine, have adopted new programs and policies aimed at helping students get through their college years more efficiently — keeping costs down without wasting time and tuition money — and helping them stay in school, according to the article. Currently, about 79 percent of freshmen return the following year at UMaine, and the target retention rate is 85 percent, said Jeffrey Hecker, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost. “It’s the right thing to do and it will also help us with our budgetary challenges,” he said. The Think 30 program launching this fall aims to encourage students to take at least 30 credit hours every year, Hecker said. To graduate on time, students should take 15 credit hours per semester. Currently, more than a third of UMaine students end their freshman year with fewer than 30 credits, the article states. The Press Herald also published a related article on UMaine wildlife ecology major Caroline MacKenzie, who is juggling work and school.
Kirsten Jacobson, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, spoke about the importance of philosophy on Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Morning Edition.” Jacobson’s interview is the first in a series of interviews on what role the humanities play in our lives. All of the guests wrote articles in the special issue of Maine Policy Review earlier this year on the humanities and policy, produced by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in cooperation with the UMaine Humanities Center. Jacobson wrote about her “Philosophy Across the Ages” program, which allows undergraduate students the opportunity to hold seminars with students at Orono High School and members of the Dirigo Pines Retirement Community, according to the report. Jacobson said philosophy is less abstract than people think.
Kate Garland, a horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension program, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for an article about public tours of the Hammond Street Senior Center’s rooftop garden. Senior center members and volunteers from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program recently built 17 raised beds for flowers, herbs and vegetables, according to the article. The public is invited to tour the Bangor garden for free from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10. Master gardeners and UMaine students helped design and build a customized drip irrigation system for the garden, Garland told the BDN. “It was good to get the UMaine students up here,” she said. “It helped develop their skills and showed them the value of civic involvement.” Produce from the garden is used in meals prepared in the senior center kitchen or sold to members to take home, the article states. “It all gets snapped up pretty quickly,” Garland said.
The University of Maine was mentioned in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network report, “Volunteers count bats in Maine in an effort to save them.” It’s estimated that between five to seven million hibernating bats, 80 to 90 percent of entire colonies in some cases, have been killed by white-nose syndrome, according to the report. BatME, an effort by researchers at UMaine, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and Maine Audubon, aims to document bat populations around the state, the report states. As part of the program, UMaine researchers are looking to get acoustic bat detectors into the hands of as many citizen scientists as possible. The bat detector is an iPad equipped with an ultrasonic microphone that interfaces with an app on the tablet. It records high-frequency bat calls and interprets and identifies the type of bat that’s making the sound, the report states. The idea is to not only to collect data about bats but to get people to lose their misconceptions about them, the article states.
Bruce Hoskins, an assistant scientist of plant, soil and environmental sciences at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald for the article, “Poor soil? Test now and be ready for next year’s planting season,” the latest column in the Maine Gardener series. Hoskins, who is the coordinator of the soil testing program at UMaine’s Analytical Soil Testing Lab, said home gardeners should do a soil test every two to three years. Gardeners can choose from a standard test that checks soil pH (acidity), organic matter, all important minerals except available nitrogen, and whether there are problems with lead; or a comprehensive test that also tests for available nitrogen, Hoskins said. The Analytical Soil Testing Lab does about 15,000 tests a year, and Hoskins said he is finding many gardens with low nitrogen this year. “There’s kind of an urban legend that you can grow things on compost and don’t need anything else,” he said. “There are lots of nitrogen shortages in gardens where people use compost and nothing else.”
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with students and organizers of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H livestock program at the Bangor State Fair. Students in the Penobscot County club are responsible for raising a cow to have the animal market ready in time for the fair, according to the report. “Overall it’s been a really good experience. It’s a great program that 4-H has,” said Dexter Sibley, a student in the program. He said he has learned a lot about livestock, as well as leadership and people skills.
University of Maine baseball head coach Steve Trimper announced Nick Derba, a former minor league catcher, has been promoted to associate head coach, the Bangor Daily News reported. “He’s going to be a head coach at a Division I school sometime in the future,” Trimper said. “The least I could do is make a title change and give him the associate head coach position. He deserves it.” For three years, Derba primarily has worked with hitters and catchers and has coordinated UMaine’s recruiting, according to the article.
Joseph Kelley, a professor of marine geology in the University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences and Climate Change Institute, spoke with The Free Press about his concerns over the proposal to dump almost a million cubic yards of marine dredge spoils from Searsport Harbor into deep holes on the seafloor near Islesboro. The holes, or pockmarks, are a feature of coastal muddy bays, and scientists know the pockmarks are formed by the release of methane trapped in the marine sediments, but they don’t know what triggers a release of gas, according to the article. Kelley, who has studied pockmarks over the past two decades, said at least one hole he researched in Belfast Bay using a submersible is about 1,000 feet in diameter and more than 120 feet deep. “The pockmarks are very steep sided and have no crater rim, so we were going along over the floor of the bay and then this big black hole opens up right in front of you,” he said. “It’s really something.” Researchers have found the pockmarks have not measurably changed in 10 years, but no tests have been done to determine how the sites will react when filled with dredge spoils, or with anything that creates pressure, the article states. “Using the pockmarks for dumping of dredge spoils is potentially a good idea, but no one knows what will happen,” Kelley said.
Marine science research and the Darling Marine Center’s 50th anniversary were the focus of a recent episode of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network’s “Maine Calling” radio show. Guests were University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck; Heather Leslie, the center’s new director; and Chris Davis, executive director of the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center. The guests spoke about the role of the Darling Marine Center in helping develop Maine’s aquaculture.
WGME (Channel 13 in Portland), the Sun Journal and the Daily Bulldog reported the University of Maine is assisting with a search for a teenage woman who went missing in 1986. The new search for Kimberly Moreau is a coordinated effort with state police, the Maine Warden Service, and local and county police, according to reports. Ground-penetrating radar equipment from UMaine is being used in the search of a property in Canton, the reports state. “We actually have a couple of professors that have come down and given us their time, as well as their equipment,” Detective Sgt. Mark Holmquist from the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit told the Sun Journal. “Basically, (the ground-penetrating radar) scans the ground underneath and looks for any signs of any gaps within the ground that aren’t normal.”
A book written by Sandra Caron, a University of Maine professor of family relations and human sexuality, was cited in the Bangor Daily News article, “People are probably having more sex now — especially men.” The article mentioned research from Caron’s book, “The Sex Lives of College Students: Two Decades of Attitudes and Behaviors,” which is based on the results of a sexuality survey she administered to nearly 6,000 college students from 1990 to 2015. Caron found the average number of sex partners for college students is three to four, and love as an important factor in sex has declined in the past 25 years for college students, according to the article. Caron also found that the rate of having five or more partners in college hasn’t changed in the last 25 years, the article states.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Bangor Daily News report about state officials announcing they are preparing for a possible avian flu outbreak and taking steps to alert the public about how to help prevent or minimize its effect on domestic poultry. The state veterinarian and UMaine Extension veterinarians are closely monitoring the avian influenza viruses that have been detected in poultry flocks in western states and are offering disease prevention tips to poultry producers, including backyard chicken farmers, according to the article. The program is a joint effort between the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and UMaine Extension, with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to monitor for infectious diseases in Maine poultry, including avian influenza viruses. Dead birds may be submitted to the University of Maine Animal Health Lab in Orono for free virus testing, the article states. Call the lab, 581.2788, for details before submitting.
In an article on a Greene family’s struggle and loss associated with drug addiction, the Sun Journal cited statistics compiled by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine and the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Research professor Marcella Sorg conducted the analysis that determined 57 people died from heroin or morphine overdoses last year — Maine’s deadliest year on record, according to the article. Another opioid, fentanyl, was behind 43 deaths in 2014, as opposed to nine in 2013, the article states.
Advice from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in the Farm and Dairy article, “August’s gardening to-do list.” Saving seeds from a garden helps save money on new seeds in the spring, according to the article. In the bulletin, “An introduction to seed saving for the home gardener,” UMaine Extension offers information such as pollination methods and choosing “mother plants” from which to save seed, the article states.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a five-session workshop about taking a specialty food product to market, 5:30–9 p.m., Thursdays, Oct. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29, at UMaine Extension Cumberland County office, 75 Clearwater Drive, Falmouth. Topics include licensing, safely preparing and packaging food products, assessing potential profits and locating resources to support a developing business. The workshop is for people operating a value-added business or those seriously considering doing so. Participants must have a specific food product or recipe and are expected to attend all sessions. Fee is $95 per person; scholarships are available. Register online by Sept. 23. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, contact 781.6099, 800.287.1471 (in Maine); firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Phil Buchstaber graduates from the University of Maine in spring 2016, he will be the first person in his family to step off the stage holding a college diploma.
He credits much of his success to the Upward Bound program.
Buchstaber will attend Upward Bound’s 50th anniversary reunion at the University of Maine on Aug. 8 to celebrate the program’s commitment to providing opportunities for first-generation college students from low-income families.
“I’m stoked to be going to the reunion. I wouldn’t miss it. I feel like I owe them everything,” he says.
When Buchstaber was a sophomore at Central High School in Corinth, his guidance counselor gave him a hall pass to attend an informational session about the program.
He vividly remembers the director of the program, Lori Wingo, showing the statistics of college graduates within his demographic.
He said it gave him the push he needed.
“She made it abundantly clear that the time you are in Upward Bound is the time where you can make something of your life,” he says. “She would say, ‘you are going to be successful, and you’re gonna do it on your own.’”
For the next three years, Buchstaber of Stetson spent six weeks of his summer at UMaine preparing and learning how to be successful in college. The weeks were filled with classes, workshops, community meetings and educational field trips.
The program — which began at UMaine in 1965–66 — provides students with resources for scholarship opportunities, financial aid and college applications with the goal of increasing the rate at which participants complete secondary education.
Even during the school year, counselors from the program stay engaged with students; creating a network of support for participants.
Every two weeks, Faith Erhardt came to Buchstaber’s school to see how he was doing. For an hour, he could talk about whatever he wanted.
“If it wasn’t for all of what Upward Bound did while I was in high school and through the program and through the 18 total weeks of summer camp, I don’t know where I’d be,” Buchstaber says. “They planted the seed for what you needed to do and the goals you should have when it comes to college.”
Buchstaber participated in the Classic Program, which provided academic guidance for students looking to go into fields that were not science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Due to federal funding cuts, the Classic Program was eliminated at UMaine in 2012. The math and science program remains.
Today, Buchstaber is thriving at UMaine as an environmental horticulturist major with a minor in business.
“What I enjoy most about college is the amount of growth one is able to achieve,” Buchstaber says. “If you had freshman-year Phil sitting here, it would be two different people. At 16, I would have hoped to be where I am today.”
He is currently apprenticing with Brad Libby, manager of the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden and the Roger Clapp greenhouses. Libby also teaches woody landscape plants at UMaine, which has been Buchstaber’s favorite class.
“Phil is one of the most exuberant students that I have worked with and he has maintained the same high level of enthusiasm and curiosity all summer,” Libby says. “I am looking forward to working with Phil as he continues his education in horticulture. Students like Phil are a big part of what makes working here at UMaine so rewarding.”
During the third summer Buchstaber attended the Upward Bound Program, he received a scholarship which allowed him to attend college and be debt free.
“During community meeting one day, someone stood up to make an announcement. They announced that I got the Travelli scholarship,” Buchstaber says. “I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. It was an amazing moment. Upward Bound made it clear that you had to get academic scholarships.”
Buchstaber looks forward to the days when money isn’t a constant worry.
“I’m tired of ends being met so closely. I want ends to meet and be able to throw it into savings, instead of shaving by. Having a degree will help make that possible,” he says.
“I had a great childhood; my house was great, my parents are great and everyone loves each other. I wouldn’t change a thing. It just has to do with quality of living.”
After graduation, Buchstaber would like to travel and become a licensed arborist.
“I wish I could put into words how much this program should be offered to kids. I mean, especially for the kids it is already offered to. That’s huge. But also for other kids that need a boot in the pants. It’s an opportunity to get an education. It’s an unbelievable program.”
Contact: Amanda Clark, 207.581.3777
WABI (Channel 5) reported Princeton Review named the University of Maine among the 380 best colleges nationwide for 2016 in its annual guide. For the second consecutive year, UMaine is the only public university in Maine to be profiled in the publication. This spring, UMaine also was named one of the Top 50 Green Colleges in the nation by Princeton Review. UMaine students told Princeton Review the university’s strengths are in providing “a quality education, preparing us for the working world and helping to promote an environmentally friendly future.”
Research by Jacquelyn Gill, an assistant professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine, was mentioned in a Rolling Stone article about how the worst predicted effects of climate change are starting to happen, and much faster than scientists thought. Gill, who researchers extinction, is studying how to save species that are alive now by learning more about what killed off the ones that aren’t, according to the article. The data she studies shows “really compelling evidence that there can be events of abrupt climate change that can happen well within human life spans. We’re talking less than a decade,” she said.