Overview l Team l Stakeholders l News l Events
Sustaining Quality of Place in the Saco River Estuary through Community Based Ecosystem Management
Phase I: Bridging Community Goals for Quality of Place and Scientific Knowledge of Ecosystem Structure and Function through Collaborative Learning
University of New England
This project focuses on understanding the effects of increasing coastal development on the health of the Saco River Estuary, and on ways to mitigate these effects. It employs the methods of social sciences in understanding management and policy challenges, and in examining existing gaps in scientific knowledge required to address these challenges. It also uses the methods of the natural sciences to develop ecological indicators that reflect the extent and impacts of coastal development. This project is a first step in achieving the long-term goal of sustaining the structure and function of the Saco River Estuary, and could serve as a model for bringing scientists and stakeholders together to achieve similar goals.
The Saco River watershed is the largest watershed in southern Maine, encompassing more than 1,500 square miles. The estuarine portion of the river lies below the first dam on the river, and includes a variety of coastal habitats, including rocky intertidal, sandy beaches, mudflats and salt marshes. This stretch of the river is bordered by the town of Saco and the city of Biddeford. The University of New England (UNE) is located in the city of Biddeford, at the mouth of the Saco River.
The University of New England (UNE) has recently created a Center for Land Sea Interactions (CLSI), based in its Marine Science and Research Center on the Biddeford campus, which is located on the banks of the lower reaches of the Saco River. One of the core themes of the institute is a focus on environmental sustainability of coastal ecosystems. Faculty from a diversity of departments participate in CSLI activities in collaboration with organizations outside UNE. One of our past and current collaborators is the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (WNERR), whose research department studies and monitors change in Gulf of Maine estuaries, coastal habitats, and adjacent coastal watersheds, and produces science-based information needed to protect, sustain, or restore them. In addition, the Wells Reserve is home to the Coastal Training Program (CTP), which engages coastal communities, resource managers, federal and state environmental agencies and NGOs in collaborative dialogues aimed at sustaining coastal ecosystems through shared effort. CTP provides environmental training and technical assistance and has served an average of 4,000 coastal decision-makers each year for the past seven years.
The interdisciplinary team of researchers for this project brings together both social and natural scientists from UNE and the WNERR interested in the sustainability of coastal systems.
April 29, 2010
Who Cares for the Saco?
6:00 - 9:00 pm, St Francis Room, UNE
Student Led Collaborative Learning Workshop
RSVP by April 20th to Chris Feurt 207/602-2834
Using ethnographic research methods, students from ENV 398A Environmental Communication have identified and characterized Saco River stakeholders whose work on municipal boards, committees, community groups and governments demonstrates stewardship of the river. Incorporating knowledge about the work and concerns of these stakeholders, students will introduce five ecosystem health issues for the Saco River: climate, water quality, biodiversity, wetlands and ecosystem services. Students will use the Collaborative Learning approach to engage stakeholders and UNE faculty in dialogue about ecosystem health issues in the estuary and the potential to use indicators to assess and monitor the condition of the estuary. The style of the meeting will be participatory, allowing stakeholders to anonymously identify important values and evaluate preferred strategies for maintaining ecosystem health. Audience poling devices will be used as teaching aides to introduce ecosystem concepts and reinforce key concepts from student-generated Power Points, GIS and visuals. The evening should be lively and fun. Light refreshments will be provided.
May 18, 2010
Charting a Course for the Saco
Bridging Community Goals for Quality of Place and Scientific Knowledge of Ecosystem Structure and Function through Collaborative Learning
9:30 am – 2:00 pm Decary Caf Function Room 1, UNE
RSVP by May 11 to Chris Feurt 207/602-2834
Drs Christine Feurt and Pam Morgan will facilitate a dialogue among UNE researchers and Saco River Watershed stakeholders to increase understanding of the state of the science in the Saco estuary, identify management and policy challenges influencing sustainability of ecosystem health and to identify and prioritize research needs for the coming four years of the EPSCOR project. Stakeholder assessment research conducted by Dr. Feurt and the students in ENV 398A will inform this design of this workshop.