Penobscot River Science Steering Committee Meeting
November 13, 2007, 1PM-3PM
George Mitchell Center Conference Room, UMaine
Present: Calhoun, Trial, Courtemanch, Saunders, Larsen, G. Zydlewski, Wilson, Royte, Reardon, Hart, Schmitt, A. Kelley. Via phone: Barhardt, Kusnierz, Collins, Snyder.
1. Introductions and new/ongoing research updates (All)
Schmitt noted that some mistakes were made in the last newsletter. To avoid problems in the future, she will put out a call for newsletter items a few weeks before the next issue, and will send a draft to the committee for review before publications. If anyone has other ideas on how to improve the process, please let her know.
The Army Corps has agreed to share benthic data for PenBay (pre-dredging in Rockland, Rockport, Camden, Searsport, Belfast; Brewer close to site of impact). Peter Larsen will submit these data to Schmitt and will serve as the primary contact.
Zydlewski reported that the sturgeon are settling offshore from the Cianbro site; they have detected 4 individuals, one in dredge site and 3 just upstream, the fish will likely stay there for the winter. Some underwater sonar video was obtained, but survey was conducted to early to detect overwintering. NOAA has a unit in Woods Hole that gets circulated, hoping to have use of that before ice sets in. It was suggested that a Note in Fisheries would be a good outlet to let others know about latest findings.
Wilson is thinking more about a stable isotope/food web study. She is looking for partners (suggested: Steve Coghlan, Kevin Simon, Cyndy Loftin).
Collins reported that the Gulf of Maine Barrier Removal Monitoring Protocol is nearing completion and publication is expected in early December (on GOMC Web site).
2. Project update (Reardon)
Data collection field work is completed, in draft review (mussels, shoreline survey—finals in a month or so). Bathy/sediment data and sediment chemistry are still being processed. The Trust hopes that draft reports will be available by January 1. So far there are no surprises. All of the mussel species of concern are present in low numbers, no clear pattern of distribution.
Funding is going well and the private capital campaign will likely achieve its goal relatively soon. Assuming federal budget funding comes through ($10 million), PRRT will exercise option by June '08 with a letter of intent. The Trust will apply for some permits with PPL, and other permits independently. PRRT takes ownership when permits are in place. Formal public scoping meetings will occur on December 5, 6 (Reardon will send announcement to Catherine). A scoping document will be released prior to meetings.
The role of the SC in permitting was discussed, and all agreed that the committee would play no formal role, other than members providing input in their professional or citizen capacity, and the Trust welcomes informal feedback. To address concerns about potential public perception of the PRSSC (e.g., not independent, not doing the right job), we need to finalize the charter and have it available before the scoping sessions. Catherine will circulate a revised charter with a date for feedback and a finalizing call.
The Trust anticipates additional mussel work (incidental take permit?). This is a potential opportunity for researchers. Also TNC-NOAA expect to issue another joint RFP this winter similar to last year.
3. State of the Watershed update (Schmitt/Zydlewski)
The Table of Contents was developed with the Lower Penobscot Watershed Coalition, and a workshop was held on the morning of the 13th with scientists and agency staff and other stakeholders to discuss the contents, review for information gaps and think about data sources and graphics. A revised table of contents will be circulated soon and a student has been hired (College of the Atlantic) to work on maps and data products beginning in January.
4. TNC Conservation Action Planning
Royte presented on TNC's planning initiative (.ppt file is available on the Web) which identified conservation targets, threats to those target resources, and strategies to address the threats. Royte will be following up with people on specific aspects of the plan.
The issue of conflicting goals was raised, for example in Sebasticook Lake, which has been the focus of restoration efforts for 30 years with slow improvements, water quality took a nosedive this year, the lake experienced the worst bloom in a decade. DEP wonders if it has anything to do with more access to alewives (8 to 10 times the stocking rate). Need to consider whether the habitat can still tolerate historic numbers of fish, and keep plans dynamic to keep track of separate goals that may be working with or against each other. Need to be clear about what you are measuring—output, outcome, etc. in relation to assumptions. In other words, be careful of independent goal setting!
5. Sampling site locations
Wilson and Schmitt have pulled together data on existing research and monitoring sample site locations but this information is not in map format yet. Collins is pulling together some of the other "desktop data" (one-foot resolution orthophotos, 10-M DEMs, surficial geology at varying resolutions) for the LTMT sub-group to review and preliminarily identify transect locations for subsequent field reconnaissance. If anyone is aware of other data sets not on MEGIS from Milford south let Collins know.
Minutes from the hydrology and long-term monitoring subgroups have been distributed.
6. Monitoring Framework
The latest draft will be circulated for committee's review and final input and suggested reviewers.
Royte handed out a list of coordination tasks for input from the committee. PRRT is hoping to fund the project through 2008; want others to contribute; DEP supported it for one year; goal is to fund the coordination for several years through dam removal and afterwards. Royte will follow up with individuals/agencies.
In terms of short vs. long-term funding, what is missing from the current description is synthetic analyses, forecasting, convening workshops, connecting researchers and students, etc.. We need a menu of project ideas to match projects with interested folks with funding sources, or a catalog of one-page research ideas. Schmitt will work on this after framework goes out for review.