Penobscot River Science Steering Committee
June 22, 2006
Senator George J. Mitchell Center Seminar Room, UMaine
Aram Calhoun, George Aponte Clarke, David Hart, Tom Huntington, Joe Kelley, Alice Kelley, Josh Royte, Gordon Russell, Catherine Schmitt, Joan Trial, Gail Wippelhauser, Theo Willis, Joe Zydlewski.
Via Phone Call: Karen Wilson, Gayle Zydlewski, Lynne Lewis
1. Project update
George reviewed what work has been done on the project and the status of fundraising.
HydraTerra did some bathymetry, also coring and sediment sampling. Final reports from coring and sediment sampling are not in yet. Other preliminary work by Milone and MacBroom.
— Many in the group questioned the availability of contractor reports and data, and suggested that the Trust compile a list of the studies that have been completed to date, what data were collected as part of those studies, and when and if those data will be available.
The Trust is considering whether or not the Army Corps of Engineers will play a major role in the project. George Aponte Clark will provide more information to the committee in the future regarding how that decision will be made.
Josh Royte said that The Nature Conservancy joined the Trust in February. Their government relations team is working with TU to get authorization for the Corps to initiate preliminary involvement and looking at House and Senate support for their feasibility study and for WHIP (NRCM) and presidential line item funding that would help both with pre-removal reconnaissance and acquisition.
Regarding permitting information, Jeff Reardon/the Trust have not yet begun to collect that information. George Aponte Clark said that the Trust will be moving forward on this.
Alice Kelley inquired about Cultural Resource Management, and it was mentioned that a lot of historic and cultural information is contained in FERC relicensing documents which are available by request.
2. The Committee Web site
Catherine Schmitt reviewed the temporary Web page that has been set up and discussed reorganizing the current Penobscot Synthesis site so that the home page is that of the committee, with information organized by topic area (hydrology, geology/sediment, fisheries, etc.). Everyone agreed to the Web site and proposed organization. Suggested items for the Web site:
- a link to the Trust
- committee names should be in a drop-down menu instead of up front
- a progress/status document with information for interested researchers
- a master timeline of ongoing research projects (may not be online)
3. The draft charter
Josh Royte had drafted a charter for the committee which was circulated before the meeting. The mission will be changed to include "research" and the notion that the committee has a goal of fostering opportunities for research and facilitating collaboration.
Everyone was charged with submitting comments on the charter to Catherine Schmitt.
Karen Wilson noted that there are other models (e.g., LTER) that design monitoring plans so they are incorporated into research. Karen also suggested that a sub-group of the committee get together to begin writing a proposal. It was recognized that a large grant to NSF, for example, is not likely to be funded because of a lack of preliminary data, however the process of submitting such a proposal often generates smaller proposals that can be sent to other granting entities, so that ultimately all the pieces end up getting funded. But none of this can happen if proposals stay unwritten. Karen requested a list of permitting needs that the subgroup can then work from to develop a research and monitoring proposal.
In discussing its mission, the group returned to the issue of permitting/monitoring needs, and whether researchers are in a position to help the Trust acquire information needed for permits. Joe Zydlewski pointed out that in order for the Trust to guide research in a direction that would most benefit project success, the Trust needs to provide money that researchers can then use for match. Theo Willis suggested that money the Trust is currently contracting out could be used by researchers as match money for larger projects that accomplish the Trusts' needs while being part of research. If the Trust issued RFPs, researchers would be able to respond to those requests (instead of placing notices in the newspapers as has been done in the past; researchers are not used to looking there for grant opportunities). This would be a way for the Trust to draw on scientific expertise and get more "bang for the buck". Karen Wilson suggested it might help if scientists provide the Trust with information about how much research costs (e.g., $30k per year for a graduate student).
4. Upcoming proposals:
Joe Kelley has submitted a proposal to NSF to do a "mud budget" for the Penobscot River. He would be interested in being part of a large proposal.
Lynne Lewis asked about social sciences and suggested the Science and Society grant: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5324
It was decided that committee members who identify grant opportunities should circulate them to the group via email, and they will also be posted on the Web site. They can then consult with the Trust to make sure project needs are addressed.
5. ME Tidal proposal
The committee can not comment on this and other proposals because of agency conflicts. The best role is to use the committee to circulate this type of information and news.
6. Other items
DEP has provided seed money to fund the coordinator position for Catherine Schmitt for another year, but permanent funding beyond next year is still needed.
The committee selected David Hart as chair of the committee and the Mitchell Center as the appropriate entity to lead the effort.
The next meeting is September 25 at 1 pm at the Mitchell Center.
- George Aponte Clark will provide a summary/update of past investigations and planned future work on the river. He will work with the Trust to obtain permitting information.
- Catherine Schmitt will work on reorganizing the Web site and will circulate an updated contact list.
- Karen Wilson will convene a subgroup to discuss proposals.
- Each member will submit comments on the draft charter to Catherine Schmitt.
- Each member of the committee should review the section for their topic area in the research needs documents (available on the Web site) and send edits/amendments to Catherine Schmitt.
- Please also send to Catherine your contact information and a listing of your topic area network contacts (i.e., other experts in your field); this item is left over from the last meeting.
— END —
Minutes by C. Schmitt