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Help us defeat the radical “Takings” bill!

Posted on: Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Hi folks!

Adopting a radical “takings” law would be devastating for Maine.  It would cost state taxpayers millions of dollars, pit neighbors against each other and benefit special corporate interests.  This law would also block future laws from protecting Maine’s clean air, land and water that are necessary for our wildlife.

The good news is that a majority of the Judiciary Committee, legislators from all parties, defeated the original version of LD 1810 by a vote of 8-5.  Unfortunately, we understand that some legislators will attempt to overturn this Committee vote when the bill reaches the House and Senate floors in the coming days.

We need your help to ensure this bad bill (LD 1810) gets defeated and that a compromise is adopted between all parties!  Please contact your legislators today and urge them to do two things – 1. Support the Majority Report for LD 1810, and 2. Oppose the Minority Report.  The vote could happen any day, so please contact them today!

The Majority Report for LD 1810, which was created by Representatives Brad Moulton (R-Cape Neddick) and Charlie Priest (D-Brunswick), has garnered support from legislators on all sides of the aisle.  This amendment creates a legislative committee that will regularly examine the potential impacts of land use laws on Maine landowners and will initiate legislative solutions as needed. (Additional talking points can be found here.)

The Minority Report, on the other hand, represents a completely untested proposal, unlike anything enacted in the entire nation.  This report includes a vast number of legal complexities and vague provisions that are guaranteed to have unintended budgetary and environmental consequences.

“Takings” schemes, such as the LD 1810 Minority Report, create incentives for property owners to form highly speculative development plans for projects they had never actually thought of pursuing.  The greatest beneficiaries of this kind of legislation are corporations and attorneys who pursue such cases, no matter how groundless.  Those who have most to lose are Maine taxpayers, the environment and our wildlife.

We need your help to defeat the Minority Report for LD 1810.  Please contact your legislators today and urge them to support the Majority Report!

Thank you for your activism!

Help Defeat LD 1853!

Posted on: Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

A last minute bill has been submitted in the Legislature that would completely rewrite Maine’s mining regulations.  LD 1853, An Act To Improve Environmental Oversight and Streamline Permitting for Mining in Maine, would replace the state’s current, carefully crafted mining regulations with weaker standards, leaving Maine’s pristine natural environment and clean water vulnerable to the dangers of open-pit mining.  We need your help to defeat this bill!

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee is holding a public hearing for LD 1853 this Friday, March 30th at 1:00 p.m. in Cross Building Room 216.  Please join us in Augusta on Friday to show your support for Maine’s wildlife and wildlife habitat.  Please also call your legislators and urge them to oppose LD 1853.  Let them know that we should keep Maine’s current mining regulations intact and  that we should study this issue further before making dramatic changes.

The final language for LD 1853 is currently being written (you can view the latest Committee information for LD 1853 here).  As it is written now, this bill would relax open-pit mining regulations for gold, silver and copper.  And although proponents of this bill are stating they want mining operations that will not pollute our water, this bill would allow mining companies to dump their waste into our floodplains and flood hazard zones.  There is sound evidence that this practice would pollute our ground and surface water, thus poisoning the lakes, streams and rivers that our treasured wildlife depend on.

Please join us on Friday, March 30th in Augusta to oppose LD 1853, and call your legislators today and let them know that this bill is bad for Maine’s environment!

Thank you for your continued support!

LD 1647, Aggrieved Person Bill Passes House and Senate

Posted on: Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

This morning, the House voted in favor of LD 1647 as amended by a very close vote of 71-70.  Thank you to Representatives Priest and Maloney for speaking articulately on the floor in opposition to the bill.  We also thank Representatives Moulton, Strang-Burgess, Olsen and Volk for crossing party lines to vote against the bill.  Earlier, the Senate voted in favor of the bill by a vote of 21-13.  Thank you to Senators Dill, Woodbury and Goodall for speaking eloquently on the floor against the bill. While this bill has several additional steps to take before it’s enacted, these votes signal the direction it’s headed.

The Aggrieved Persons bill raises the hurdle for those who want to appeal a staff decision at the Department of Environmental Protection of the Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) to the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP) or LURC.  It requires BEP and LURC to conduct lengthy and technical legal investigations into whether citizens and citizen groups meet legalistic standing tests, slowing down the permitting processes.  In many cases, citizens and citizen groups will have to hire lawyers to represent them, just to get the opportunity to participate in the process.  It essentially makes it more difficult for the public to appeal when often these staff decisions are made with little public awareness and without a public hearing.

 

Help Protect Our Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat!

Posted on: Friday, March 23rd, 2012

An amendment has been introduced by Representatives Brad Moulton and Charlie Priest that replaces the language of the original bill. Under this amendment, a Regulatory Fairness Committee, similar to that used for the LD 1 process, would be created. This Committee would act as a forum for landowners to express their concerns about the significant impacts of land use regulations (both recent and new) on their property. Please contact your legislators today and urge them to support the Moulton-Priest amendment for LD 1810!

Learn more about this issue »

ACF Committee Unanimously Endorses Revised LURC Bill

Posted on: Friday, March 23rd, 2012

All of the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee members in attendance at yesterday’s committee meeting voted in favor of an amended LURC reform bill, LD 1798.  The republicans on the committee offered to make further changes to the bill including removing the controversial “opt-out” provision, clarifying that county commissioners nominated to serve on LURC cannot vote for him or herself, requiring commissioners to meet a certain level of qualification, and making the rules implementing the changes to LURC major substantive which means the Legislature will have to review and approve them.

Our reaction:

The bill is significantly improved from what was introduced earlier in the year and we appreciate the hard work of legislators on both sides of the aisle to achieve those improvements.

The most significant rollback and worst provision that would have allowed counties to opt out of LURC jurisdiction has been removed from the bill and that is a significant improvement in the bill.

This time last year we were fighting efforts to abolish LURC altogether, so we are very pleased that LURC will continue to oversee the North Woods and do planning and zoning to guide development to appropriate areas and maintain Maine’s forest resources.

We continue to have concerns about the bill, particularly the provisions that would allow 8 of 9 positions on the LURC Board to be filled by County Commissioners.  Our concern is that those county commissioners will be faced with unavoidable situations of divided loyalty where they are trying to further the interests of their county constituents at the same time that they are trying to fulfill their obligations on a state-wide regulatory board.

It will be critical for Maine people to carefully watch the implementation of these changes to ensure that public resources in Maine’s North Woods are protected and that the new LURC board is acting in the best interests of the state.

We recognize the tremendous effort of our activists and supporters for working so diligently to defend LURC.  These efforts have paid off in a bill that is much improved.

We also greatly appreciate the considerable efforts of our legislative allies in pushing so hard to improve this bill.  Many of them endured tremendous pressure.  Specifically, we thank Representatives Jeff McCabe, Jim Dill, Peter Kent, Andy O’Brien, Emily Cain, Terry Hayes, Bob Duchesne, Russell Black, Tom Winsor, Brad Moulton, Les Fossel, Kim Olsen, Dennis Keschl, Meredith Strang Burgess, Jane Knapp, David Richardson, Gary Knight, Jim Parker, Ryan Harmon and Senators Elizabeth Schneider and Tom Saviello.  We also thank Senator Raye and the republicans on the ACF Committee for continuing to find ways to address our concerns and for being open to compromise.

Rare Bird Alert March 12 – 18, 2012

Posted on: Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
  • Area: State of Maine
  • Compilers: Doug Hitchcox

Greater White-fronted Goose
Snow Goose
Eurasian Wigeon
Pacific Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Rough-legged Hawk
Snowy Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Seaside Sparrow
Eastern Meadowlark

York County

The long staying SNOWY OWL at the Nubble Lighthouse had not been reported since February 16th although one was seen here on March 13th.

A PACIFIC LOON was photographed from the Cliff House in Ogunquit on the 13th.

A SNOW GOOSE was mixed in a group of 65 CANADA GEESE in the Webhannet Marsh in Wells, visible from Deptula Lane, on the 15th and continued on the 16th.

Greater Portland

The SEASIDE SPARROW, found on the 11th, continued to be seen along the Eastern Trail through the Scarborough Marsh this week.

On the 12th, a NORTHERN PINTAIL was photographed at Evergreen Cemetery in Portland.

An early BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON has been seen at the Mercy Hospital Pond since the 12th. An AMERICAN COOT was also here on the 13th.

One (of the apparent two) GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in this area was spotted at the junction of Winn and Range Roads in Cumberland on the 12th. Later two birds were seen, one at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth and the other at the Fore River Sanctuary in Portland.

Three immature SNOW GEESE were reported from Thornhurst Farm in North Yarmouth on the 16th.

Kennebec River Valley (Augusta-Waterville)

A light-morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was spotted from I-95 going through Litchfield on the 12th.

A group of 17 SNOW GEESE were visible from I-295 before the Gardiner town line on the 17th and continued on the 18th.

Midcoast

Eight EASTERN MEADOWLARKS were reported from the fields between Maquoit and Pleasant Hill Roads in Brunswick on the 12th. The continuing NORTHERN SHRIKE was observed on the 14th at the intersection of Mere Point Road and Rossmore Road.

The early NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW at Wharton Point, which was originally found on the 10th, continued to be seen on the 14th. The continuing EURASIAN WIGEON was seen here again on the 15th.

A single EASTERN MEADOWLARK was perched on a wire on Route 127 between Woolwich and Dresden on the 18th.

Central Maine

A light-morph ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK was spotted from I-95 going through Newport on the 12th and again on the 13th.

On the 14th, a NORTHERN SHRIKE and PIED-BILLED GREBE were highlights at the Penjajawoc Marsh in Bangor.

A MERLIN has returned to its nesting territory in the Little City section of Bangor on the 18th.

Downeast

Two SHORT-EARED OWLS were seen hunting along the Eastport airport on the afternoon of the 18th.

Western Mountains

Six SNOW GEESE were seen off McNeil Road in Fryeburg on the 18th.

Northern Maine

Two early TURKEY VULTURES made it up to Presque Isle by March 6th.

EVENING GROSBEAKS have become regular at feeders in Presque Isle and Castle Hill.

Bat Conservation highlighted on Bill Green’s Maine Outdoors Tonight

Posted on: Monday, March 19th, 2012

The Bat Conservation project will be highlighted tonight on Bill Green’s Maine Outdoors on Channel 6 News tonight. Bill went up to a bat hibernacula last week, and he’ll discuss White-Nose Syndrome as well as the current status of bats and ways to get involved with monitoring bats this summer with Maine Audubon.

Read at WCSH 6 »

Learn more about Bat Conservation at Maine Auudbon »

Piping Plover & Least Tern Project 2011 Final Report

Posted on: Friday, March 16th, 2012
Piping Plover and Newborn Chick by Amanda Reed

Piping Plover and Newborn Chick by Amanda Reed

The summer of 2011 proved to be a very good nesting year for Piping Plovers. A total of 33 pair nested on 16 different beaches from Reid State Park in the north to Ogunquit Beach in the south. By summer’s end we counted 70 fledglings chicks that can fly on their own, making the 2011 Piping Plover season the most productive since 1995.
Productivity was 2.12 fledglings/pair, significantly higher than the national recovery goal of 1.5/pair, which is considered the minimum needed to grow the population. Depending on how many young survive migration and overwintering, we hope to see more breeding pairs in Maine when these young birds return to breed.

Learn more by downloading the full report, newsletter and more below.

Bird List – Naturalist Walk – Thursday, 15 March 2012

Posted on: Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, Falmouth 7 AM – 9 AM
(first of the year or notable species capitalized)

Canada goose
GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE
American black duck
Mallard
NORTHERN PINTAIL (female)
Common goldeneye
Bufflehead
Red-breasted merganser
NORTHERN HARRIER
KILLDEER
Ring-billed gull
Herring gull
Great black-backed gull
American crow
Downy woodpecker
Black-capped chickadee
Tufted titmouse
White-breasted nuthatch
Eastern bluebird
American robin
Northern cardinal
Song Sparrow
American tree sparrow
Red-winged blackbird
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD
House sparrow
American goldfinch

Please join us for our weekly walk, Thursdays at 7 AM.

Mike Windsor
Maine Audubon Naturalist

Southern Maine Endangered Species Road Watch Info Sessions

Posted on: Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Roads can have a big impact on endangered species by impeding movement and separating populations, as well as killing individuals from collisions.  Biologists with Maine Audubon and the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife will use the information gathered by volunteers to work with town planners and Maine Department of Transportation to reduce road risks to rare wildlife and improve conditions for drivers. Maine Audubon officials say that Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are expected to become extinct in Maine due to road mortality unless changes are made. Other endangered species of interest in the study include the black racer snake and the New England cottontail.

“Maine has a unique mix of wildlife and well-traveled roads,” said Barbara Charry, Maine Audubon biologist. “We find that people are genuinely interested in taking care of our wildlife, especially our endangered species.  This program makes it easy for people to do just that by delegating one-mile stretches of roads for volunteers to monitor. We’ll give volunteers all the detailed information they need on what to look for and how to report it. It’s good for the environment and good for volunteers because it gives them another reason to get outside and walk a mile on a regular basis in the spring and summer months.”

To learn more about the Endangered Species Road Watch and how to help, information sessions will be held throughout March for members of the public to attend.  The first information session will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 19 at the Alfred Town Hall, 16 Saco Road in Alfred.  The second information session will be at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at York Public Library, 15 Long Sands Road in York.  Both sessions are free and open to the public. Although RSVPs are not required for the sessions, they are encouraged. Please contact Becca Wilson at Maine Audubon by phone at 207.781.2330 ext. 222, or by e-mail at bwilson@maineaudubon.org. Refreshments will be provided.

Following the information sessions, Maine Audubon will host two more detailed training workshops for those interested in volunteering April 7 and April 14 in York and Sanford.

Those not living in southern Maine can still help collect data on important wildlife road crossings by recording sightings anywhere in the state and entering the data on the “Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch” interactive web site.

Maine Audubon and the Maine Departments of Transportation and Inland Fisheries & Wildlife are partnering on the Endangered Species Road Watch project, which is funded in part by TogetherGreen, an initiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota.