2011 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Spanning Boundaries and Disciplines: Integrating Social and Natural Sciences for Effective Water Resource Management
Chair: Kathleen P. Bell, Associate Professor, School of Economics, University of Maine
Kathleen Bell is an Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Maine. She received her B.A. in Economics and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland in 1997. Kathleen specializes in environmental and natural resource economics and spatial economic modeling. Much of her research addresses the coupling of social and biophysical systems, and as a member of the Maine Sustainability Solutions Initiative, she is growing the capacity for coupled systems research in Maine.
Description: Water resource management necessitates consideration of human and natural systems. This session will feature research projects and programs that integrate social and natural sciences to address water resource management issues. How can we better integrate knowledge of natural and human systems in the context of water resource management? Under what conditions does integration of social and natural sciences enhance water resource management? Collectively, the presentations will speak to the challenges and opportunities of spanning boundaries and disciplines to emphasize the dynamics of coupled natural and human systems.
Maine Tidal Power Initiative: Social and Ecological Research for the Responsible Development of Tidal Power
Teresa R. Johnson and Gayle Zydlewski,
School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine
The State of Maine has set an ambitious goal of increasing its use of renewable energy resources by 10% between 2007 and 2017. This requires that the State diversify its renewable energy profile. Interest in developing tidal power in Maine has expanded significantly. Currently, the sites furthest along in development are those being developed by the Ocean Energy Renewable Company (ORPC), which is focusing on the Western Passage and Cobscook Bay sites, the two best tidal energy sites identified on the East Coast of the U.S. However, major uncertainties for tidal energy development exist; these include, but are not limited to, assessing environmental impacts, resource availability, and community acceptance. The Maine Tidal Power Initiative (MPTI), a team of engineers, biologists, oceanographers, has been working closely with developers and regulators to understand how to best move forward with the responsible development of this renewable resource. Here we present the sustainability science approach that we are applying to the problem of how to responsibly develop tidal power to meet the State’s social and ecological goals. Specifically, we report on our research on the potential social and environmental impacts of tidal power development and illustrate how these research efforts are being integrated in order to effectively link knowledge to action.
Integrating Social Science into Natural Resources Conservation to Enhance Management of Vernal Pools
Jessica Spelke Jansujwicz¹ (student), Aram J.K. Calhoun¹, Robert J. Lilieholm²
1 Department of Wildlife Ecology, Sustainability Solutions Initiative, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2 School of Forest Resources, Sustainability Solutions Initiative, University of Maine, Orono, ME
In 2007, the University of Maine and Maine Audubon Society initiated the Vernal Pool Mapping Project (VPMP), a community-based education and outreach project, to increase regulatory compliance with new vernal pool regulations and assist municipalities in mapping and assessing vernal pools using citizen scientists. Because assessments cannot be conducted on private land without landowner permission and because enforcement agencies may not have the personnel to monitor land management practices around every pool within its jurisdiction, landowner participation in the VPMP is critical. Our study explores the factors that discourage or encourage landowner participation in the VPMP and landowner compliance with vernal pool regulations. Data from participant observation, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and a mail survey across 4 Maine towns participating in the VPMP, indicate that landowners share common concerns regarding property rights, economic considerations, aesthetic preferences, and a lack of knowledge and understanding of vernal pools, regulations, and the VPMP. We found that no single factor such as ownership objectives or attitudes about property rights accurately predicts landowner response to the VPMP, that landowner participation in the VPMP did not always equate to regulatory compliance, and that landowners participating in the VPMP were frustrated by the lack of feedback on vernal pool assessments. We conclude that initiating and supporting community-based processes within top-down regulatory structures is a challenging task requiring a continuous exchange of social and ecological information. We offer communication strategies to facilitate an awareness and understanding of public values and concerns and incorporate social factors into conservation planning.
Does a rising tide really lift all boats? Exploring the Social Feasibility of Restoring the New Meadows ‘Lakes’
Matt Craig¹ and Vanessa Levesque²
1 Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, USM Muskie School, Wishcamper Center, Portland, ME
2 Department of Wildlife Ecology, Sustainability Solutions Initiative, University of Maine, Orono, ME
The upper New Meadows River is a long, narrow tidal embayment that the Maine DEP has determined is “impaired for marine life use and support” due to low dissolved oxygen levels caused by a partial impoundment. The New Meadows Watershed Partnership (NMWP) has funded studies that document water quality, the loss of intertidal habitat upstream of the impoundment, and the technical feasibility of increasing tidal exchange. Despite abundant technical data, little progress had been made toward restoration, in part due to a longstanding perception that local residents are against restoring tidal flow. The authors worked with the NMWP to develop a survey to gauge stakeholder sentiment regarding the health and uses of the New Meadows, and to assess stakeholder views on how the health and uses would be impacted by tidal restoration.
A total of 99 people responded to the survey, including 6 marine-based businesses, 15 shellfish harvesters, and 66 people whose properties abut the New Meadows or are one lot back from the water. The survey found that 58% of respondents support tidal restoration, compared to 22% who do not and 20% unsure. This talk will share the major findings that emerged from the survey, and discuss how to incorporate social data with the biological and technical data in developing a way forward to restoring the New Meadows. Preliminary recommendations include: design an outreach strategy based on concerns and misunderstandings; address the lack of municipal engagement; and fund studies to explore identified knowledge gaps.
"Google Street View" for Maine Lakes: Creating public-domain shoreline images for research, public policy, and education.
Whitney King, Philip Nyhus, Herbert Wilson, Russell Cole
Departments of Chemistry, Biology, Environmental Studies, Colby College, Waterville, ME
Shoreline imagery is a powerful tool for quantifying the littoral zone habitat of lakes in terms of ecological diversity, shoreline development, and economic value. We will demonstrate a simple and efficient method for acquiring shoreline images, uploading images to geospatial databases, and sharing the images with researchers and watershed stakeholders using Google Earth. We will describe our procedures used to respect individual privacy while creating public-domain data for research, public policy, and education. Future applications and potential pitfalls of this technology will be presented.