Penobscot River Science Steering Commitee
January 20, 2007
George Mitchell Center Conference Room, UMaine
Present: Aponte-Clarke, Apse (phone), Calhoun, Collins (phone), Courtemanch, Day, Elskus, Hart, Huntington (phone), Kusnierz (phone), Lewis (phone), Loftin, Murphy, Reardon, Royte, Schmitt, Snyder (phone), Vaux (phone), Wells (phone), Willis, Wilson, J. Zydlewski.
1. Welcome, introductions, review agenda
2. Jeff Reardon (PRRT) gave a brief update on planning for the permitting process.
In mid-December the Trust hired Maine-based Kleinschmidt Associates as the "general contractor" for the permit process, due to their experience in Maine, FERC relicensing, and NGO/dam removal projects. The hope is that Kleinschmidt will sub-contract out some of the work. The focus now is on background work for FERC and DEP applications. This winter, PRRT hopes to complete the hydrologic modeling, which will be based on the Hydroterra work, but their final report is not yet submitted. Also available is the infrastructure survey by Woodlot Alternatives (CS will put this on the Web). Kleinschmidt will draft an RFP based on Hydroterra's final data (out by March). If anyone had feedback on the draft data, please submit to the Trust.
The Trust plans consultation meetings with agencies in February, with draft study plans in early April, and final plans in May. If anyone wants to review these draft plans, let Jeff Reardon know. Again, the Fort Halifax documents that are on the committee Web page are good guidance on what these draft plans will be addressing.
PRRT wants to make sure that their permit applications are as complete as possible. PRRT recognizes that some summary of anticipated changes in the river would be a valuable addition to the Draft Monitoring Framework. PRRT has some of this info, and is looking for people to review it before it goes into the framework.
No word yet on EPA Targeted Watershed Grants program.
3. C. Schmitt gave a brief update on recent and active research projects.
A student in Aram Calhoun's wetland class has completed a survey of wetlands in the Penobscot in Orrington and Hampden, and funding has been obtained from Maine Sea Grant to continue the project next spring with the student chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. They surveyed presence/absence, field checked NWI maps, vegetation surveys, and area estimates.
Schmitt submitted a proposal to the Town of Stockton Springs for an information gap analysis of studies and data for Stockton Harbor. No word yet.
Jeff Wells is going to be working with Maine Audubon to organize a volunteer bird monitoring study on the river.
Several efforts are underway to install education/information displays at the Penobscot Salmon Club, Old Town waterfront, and Cove Brook.
Noah Snyder received 5-year funding from NSF to collect LIDAR data on Sheepscot, Narraguagus, and Pleasant/Piscataquis for stream process and habitat mapping, to start this summer.
The Penobscot Nation expanded monitoring (DO, Temp, conductivity, BOD, e. coli, nutrient (P Chl-A), TSS/turbidity) in 2006 to Great Works impoundment and downstream to the uppermost reaches of the Veazie impoundment, and they began collecting macroinvertebrates. PN has pending grants to go further downstream.
TNC is working with others who monitor barriers (culverts) to develop a standard protocol for watersheds less than 25 square miles. They are looking for volunteers.
DEP will be sampling the Penobscot this summer for their water quality monitoring, starting at Dolby impoundment in Millinocket, going downstream to the estuary. If people want to add on to it, let DEP know. CS will put a map of the sample sites on the Web.
4. Conceptual monitoring framework (Royte/Wilson)
Royte is working on a vision for the master document, which will be a large binder divided into sections, plus a 4-page summary handout and glossy brochure. The target deadline for these products is spring. Wilson has synthesized the draft pieces of the monitoring plan (now called a framework) by "core variable", a process used by the GOM salt marsh monitoring guide).
The Trust is interested in having this document as a way to inform the permitting process and help link permitting activities with research.
Input is needed from authors of various sections on
1. Are the "core variables" correct and complete?
2. Does this organization make sense?
The following still need to be added to the framework:
Background on pre-dam (historic conditions).
Info on what parameters will be addressed in permitting (perhaps just highlighted).
5. Funding opportunities
Josh Royte reviewed the NOAA-TNC partnership funds and the protocol which was circulated to the group. Give feedback on proposed protocol to Josh.
The NSF Research Coordination Networks grant proposal is due in June. This is the grant that Elwha received. Karen Wilson has offered to help David Hart with the proposal. If anyone else wants to help develop the proposal, let David know. They will need "letters of collaboration" as part of their proposal.
Now that it looks like there is funding on the horizon and upcoming RFPs, each of you needs to decide if you would like to be a reviewer of proposals, or if you need to abstain from that process because you may be submitting proposals. TNC/GMC may be pulling together review committees, so let Catherine or David know one way or the other. As part of this, Catherine will expand the list of committee members and current researchers to add their area of expertise.
6. Finally, there was brief discussion of the role of the steering committee now that the conceptual monitoring plan is nearing completion. An evaluation has been distributed that will help answer this question. Evaluations will be submitted and compiled by Catherine Schmitt. This is an internal, self evaluation for our purposes only.