Penobscot River Science Steering Committee
February 9, 2006
Senator George J. Mitchell Center Conference Room, UMaine
Joan Trial, Karen Wilson, Gordon Russell, George Aponte Clarke, Scott Craig, Catherine Schmitt, Joe Kelley, Josh Royte, Dave Courtemanch, Jeff Murphy, Jeff Reardon.
Via Phone Call: David Hart, Gail Wippelhauser, Noah Snyder, Walter Barnhardt
1. Discussion of other potential committee members:
- Gail Wippelhauser would like to be on the committee representing DMR.
- For the Wildlife seat, Philip DeMaynadier said he did not have time and recommended Beth Swartz; Catherine will contact Rich Dressler. Bucky Owen can also help in this area, though his time is limited. We will also need a bird person, maybe someone from Maine Audubon?
- Kathleen Bell, Cyndy Loftin, and Susan Stein also mentioned as potential steering committee members.
2. Review of "Research Needs" document
This document was sent to the committee before the meeting. The first level of identified data is that which will be required as part of permitting. Jeff Reardon said the Trust only has very preliminary data, just what was needed to do due diligence analysis for the purchase and removal of the dams. So far, work done by Malone & McBroom, Hydro Terra, and Woodlot Alternatives to identify major issues, cost estimates, and conceptual designs for the removals. The Trust has not scoped out permit needs as actual permitting is still a few years away. The Trust will put this work out to bid once it is ready to initiate the permit process. There is the chance that if the Army Corps does some work, for example, they would do their own permitting.
- The agencies may require some follow up monitoring (Dave C.) and funders also may require certain information (Joan T.).
- Gordon R. - An alternatives analysis will likely be required (especially if EIS is needed).
- The main permitting agencies are the Army Corps and DEP. Jeff R. will start thinking about what would be required (w/ help from Gordon Russell and Dave Courtemanch) and possibly meet with DEP and ACOE to discuss likely permits. They will need to look at previous dam removals and FERC filings, how they related to the Penobscot, and the perspectives of the permitting authorities. Jeff R. will send that information to Catherine Schmitt by mid-March to be incorporated into the research needs document.
The second level of research is baseline pre- and post-dam removal monitoring. Gail W. mentioned that the work by Yoder/Midwest Biodiversity Institute/Kleinschmidt was late in the fall and they didn't catch many anadromous species and only surveyed between Hampden and Howland. DMR does an inshore trawl survey.
Josh R. – Research areas should be organized in a phylogenic hierarchy (kind of a tree diagram). Josh will draft something and send to Catherine, who will revise the research needs document accordingly.
There was a discussion of monitoring plans that are currently being drafted by various entities.
- DMR is trying to get state agency goals/objectives and assessment plans out in March.
- NOAA also is very interested in estuary/bay monitoring. Jeff Murphy has drafted a conceptual monitoring plan that should go out in a month.
- USFWS and the Conte lab will be working on the fish passage monitoring plan for the Howland bypass.
- The agencies should meet again to review fisheries management plans (send drafts to C. Schmitt when ready). Goals and objectives are expected by the end of March including assessment plans.
Next, we discussed current and future monitoring as it related to items in the research needs document.
- Investigation will be most rigorous for threatened and endangered species (Jeff M.) and for issues identified during public input phase (Gordon R.).
- The EIS for Basin Mills (and other such documents) can be used to document pre-dam removal fish conditions. (Jeff R.).
- J. Kelley will be doing detailed bathymetry for Isleboro/Belfast region, but not above Sears Island. Expanding the work upriver would require more funding (another $5000 or so). Joe does have older survey data which Steve Fernandes is now analyzing.
- Bathymetry has been surveyed for the three impoundments. (Jeff R.)
3. Steering Committee Roles and Responsibilities
First priority is to determine permitting requirements and identify what is already being done, by what entity, and where there are gaps.
Second, the research needs document is useful and should be revised and made available to all interested parties, possibly on the web (Joan T.). The committee should make sure that all major research questions and current work to address those questions have been identified. The committee would then prioritize the research and monitoring needs. (Dave C., Josh R.). C. Schmitt will continue to update and amend the document. Goal is to develop a baseline of the system.
Third, each member will provide their list of contacts, who they regularly speak with about what topics, so we know who will be going to whom about which section of the research needs document.
Finally, the committee recognizes that coordination will take time. The Steering Committee may consider work plans for the sub-committees. Funding should be secured for Catherine to continue this role. Catherine will estimate proposed costs of part-time coordination.
Summary of steering committee goals established so far:
- To identify and prioritize monitoring and research needs.
- To serve as the hub that connects interested scientists and groups with each other and with information.
The Steering Committee will at a later date determine whether or not it should expand its role.
Catherine will contact Rich Dressler about the wildlife seat.
Jeff Reardon will work with Gordon Russell and Dave Courtemanch to identify permitting needs and will send the info to Catherine.
Josh Royte will make up a conceptual diagram/organizational chart for research areas and send to Catherine.
Send C. Schmitt information about your network contacts: name, phone, email, affiliation, what they work on. This will lead to a database of those interested in Penobscot River research. Also if you have identified gaps in research needs document (questions or current activities not listed) send that information.
When all of the information has been submitted, Catherine will revise the research needs document and distribute to the committee and schedule next meeting, hopefully April/May.
Minutes compiled by C. Schmitt.