News & Notes


Less Lawn

Posted on: Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Doug Tallamy speaking at Gilsland Farm. Photo by Doug Hitchcox

Last week, Bringing Nature Home author Doug Tallamy spoke at Maine Audubon. His message was simple and straightforward.  Each of us has an opportunity to improve habitat for wildlife, beginning in the back yard. Tallamy showed how removing non-native and restoring native vegetation can pay huge dividends for wildlife. No one who attended his talk could have been anything other than inspired. I wanted to jump on my tractor and begin waging war on the honeysuckle, barberry and bittersweet that have invaded parts of my farm.

Native animals and plants — as well as the insects that so many animals consume and that play crucial roles as pollinators — evolved together, forming intricate food webs that non-native plants have disrupted. Where habitat is concerned, those food webs really matter. Tallamy showed us some (actually scores of) rather dramatic examples of the differences between the biodiversity present on land with native vegetation and that present where non-native vegetation has become established.

One of Tallamy’s main points can be summarized in two four-letter words: Less Lawn.  Native Maine didn’t have lawn; it had plants that filled the spaces between the big trees in the forest and transition zones that welcomed migrating birds and allowed our terrestrial wildlife to move in accordance with their ancient, seasonal patterns of habitat use for foraging, breeding, and refuge.

Tallamy’s studies show that even modest increases in the native plant cover on suburban properties significantly increase the number and species of breeding birds, including birds of conservation concern.  His marching orders to us were clear:  “As gardeners and stewards of our land, we have never been so empowered to help save biodiversity from extinction, and the need to do so has never been so great. All we need to do is plant native plants!”

Chief among Maine Audubon’s new strategic goals is to increase the number of people who are working for wildlife. If we want to increase the ranks of people who are working for wildlife, there is no better place to begin than in encouraging Maine people to garden for wildlife. Fortunately, one of our most generous donors has given us some working capital to build a program around sustaining wildlife with native plants. So, in the coming months, look for  lot more on this subject from Maine Audubon. In the meantime, think Less Lawn.

-Charles

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

The Subadult Twitchers’ 2015 Bird-a-thon Recap

Posted on: Thursday, June 25th, 2015

The 2015 Bird-a-thon is complete! This is the second year of participation by our team, the Sub-adult Twitchers, which formed last year as an attempt to involve a team of [mostly] youth birders. This year we were able to beat our past record but still fell short of our competitors, the Mighty Marsh Muckers.

Below is a summary of our day with a few of the highlights:

 

team-photo-birdathon

The Sub-adult Twitchers, from L to R: Traczie Bellinger, Fyn Kynd, Kyle Lima, Doug Hitchcox

The proper preparation for a Big Day (Bird-a-thon), a day in which you plan to spend 24 hours seeing as many species as possible, is to get as much sleep as possible… we didn’t do that. Instead we led an “Owl Prowl” for the Freeport Birding Festival from 8:00-10:00pm at Maine Audubon’s Mast Landing Sanctuary. This did turn out to be an indicator of how our owling would go during the Bird-a-thon: quiet and owl free.

Owlless, we made it to Biddeford Pool just in time for sunrise and then we were on fire. Shorebirds were roosting along the edges of the pool so we could easily tick them off from the side of the road — efficiency is key during big days. The dawn chorus and newly arrived neotropic migrants kept our tally rising. A quick check of the north end of Biddeford Beach added some seabirds and a surprise pair of Piping Plovers — further north than any known pairs on this beach.

We then went towards Portland to make quick stops at Evergreen Cemetery and Capisic Pond Park to clean up some migrants we missed and also tick some stake-outs like Orchard Oriole and Warbling Vireo. While we were at Evergreen, the Might Marsh Muckers (MMMs) found a Summer Tanager just around the corner from us but we missed it by minutes. We probably spent too long trying to relocate this rarity but we got back on track with a good list for the morning.

Looking for the Little Gull at Pine Point, Scarborough

Looking for the Little Gull at Pine Point, Scarborough

After cleaning up our targets in Scarborough, we pointed north and quickly stopped at Gilsland Farm. While there we got word that the MMMs had found a Little Gull back in Scarborough — at the beach we had just left! This would have been a life bird (a new species) for some of our members so we broke a Big Day ‘rule’ and went back for this rarity. Long story short, we just missed the bird (again) and then wasted a lot of time trying to relocate it. With our route now completely askew, we detoured to ‘The Dairy Corner’ for a much needed ‘Purple Piping Plover’.

Emergency morale boost stop

Emergency morale boost stop

We made some impromptu stops at local hotspots for a few of the species we were missing. As the sun was getting low in the horizon, we made our way towards Kennebunk Plains for the specialty birds that can be found in that unique habitat. Prairie Warblers, Field Sparrows and Upland Sandpipers helped lift our spirits, but the highlight of the day was as probably when we got to observe American Woodcocks and Eastern Whip-poor-wills calling and displaying over the plains as the sun went down.

The wind was the most limiting factor of the day, keeping us from hearing a number of common species. We ended the day with 124 species, a new record for our team! And despite falling short of the MMMs total, I feel like we won in terms of having the most fun.

 

The Sub-adult Twitchers checking off the last few possibilities at Kennebunk Plains

The Sub-adult Twitchers checking off the last few possibilities at Kennebunk Plains

Another fun part of the Bird-a-thon this year was teaming up with a class of middle schoolers from Windham that were doing their own Big Day on Friday, May 22. Their teacher, Ryan Rumsey, introduced his class to birding via Project Feeder Watch, and our collaboration was a huge success! I can’t wait to work with him, his classes and hopefully more schools in the future. Rumsey’s class put together a great video summary of their day:

Thank you very much to everyone who supported our team this year! Your donations help to improve and expand the work Maine Audubon is doing to support wildlife and habitats around the state.

-Doug

Doug Hitchcox Head Shot - please credit  M. Kathleen Kelly (1)Meet Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon Staff Naturalist

A Maine native, Doug grew up in Hollis and graduated from the University of Maine in 2011. Throughout college Doug worked at Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center and was hired as Maine Audubon’s staff naturalist in the summer of 2013, a long time “dream job.” In his free time, Doug volunteers as one of Maine’s eBird reviewers, is the owner and moderator of the ‘Maine-birds’ listserv and serves as York County Audubon board member and Secretary of the Maine Bird Records Committee.

Submit your question for Doug:

Action Alert! Help Release the Land for Maine’s Future Bonds

Posted on: Friday, June 19th, 2015

The Governor is holding the Land for Maine’s Future bonds hostage as a political bargaining chip. Recently, both the House and Senate voted by over two-thirds in favor of LD 1378, as amended, a bill that would require the Governor to release voter-approved bonds unless there are legitimate, non-political reasons for holding them.

The Governor has made clear he will veto LD 1378. It’s critical that two-thirds of the Legislature vote to override the veto and release the LMF bonds. 
 
For more than two decades, the highly successful Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program has provided critical funding to protect forestlands, shorelines, working farms and waterfronts, salt marshes, mountain summits and other treasures of Maine’s natural heritage for generations to come. 
 
LMF funds have protected land in each of Maine’s 16 counties, where families can enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, snowmobiling, camping, skiing and other outdoor activities. This program has provided essential infrastructure that helps preserve Maine’s unique character and supports our natural resource based economy. With all that LMF has done, it is no wonder why over 60% of Maine voters support this program.
 
For the second time in two years, the Governor is withholding $11.5 million in voter-approved LMF bonds until the Legislature agrees to significantly increase timber harvesting on public lands, a completely unrelated matter.
 
Please contact your legislators and thank them for voting in favor of LD 1378 if they voted for it and urge them to also vote to override the Governor’s veto. If they didn’t vote for LD 1378, please ask them to vote to override the Governor’s veto.   

You can see how your senator voted here and your representative here. Representatives who voted Yes voted with us in support of the bill. The vote in the Senate was on whether or not to kill the bill; Senators who voted No voted with us by voting against killing the bill. 

For more information, please go to our web page about Conservation Funding or please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Volunteers Needed for Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center

Posted on: Monday, June 15th, 2015

NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release June 15, 2015
Contact:Linda Woodard

smac@maineaudubon.org
207-883-5100

Volunteers Needed for Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center
Maine Audubon seeks help on a variety of projects in support of Maine’s largest salt marsh 

SCARBOROUGH – Maine Audubon is looking for volunteers ages 14 and up to help with a variety of tasks at the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center.

Depending on their interest and abilities, volunteers could help with:

  • Citizen Science Projects -  Participate in bird monitoring in July and August.  This can be done by foot, canoe or kayak. A Biodiversity Day in July will inventory all insects and plants in the marsh.  These monitoring projects document what species live in the marsh and note any changes over time. This provides a picture of the health of the marsh. All experience levels welcome.
  • The Nature Store – Use the register, organize store merchandise, answer phone calls, greet visitors and assist with canoe rentals.
  • Canoe Rentals – Process paperwork, explain directions and safety, hand out lifejackets and paddles, move boats on and off storage racks and assist visitors in and out of boats.
  • The Nature Center – Lead groups of all ages on explorations through the marsh. Lead walks, discuss animal mounts, maintain interactive exhibits, greet visitors and answer questions.
  • Buildings/Grounds Maintenance – Carry out carpentry and landscaping projects, maintain walking trails and boardwalks, paint, etc.

In addition, the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center requires volunteers for special events, such as Snowy Egret Day and special projects, such as picking up returnables to raise money for the center.

If you are interested in helping out at the marsh, there is likely a project that fits your expertise!

No experience is necessary and the time commitment can be fit to the volunteer’s schedule. Training will be provided.

To learn more about volunteering, contact: Linda Woodard 207-883-5100 or smac@maineaudubon.org.

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About Maine Audubon About Maine Audubon Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 20,000 members and 2,000 volunteers. Conserving Maine’s wildlife. Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information. Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

Of Birds and Brookies

Posted on: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

charlestroutTwo weeks ago, Maine Audubon trustee Sandy Buck and I took a short trip into the woods north of Baxter Park.  We wanted to check in on Maine’s forest songbirds and brook trout, and we wanted to do that in a place that is as close to an undisturbed habitat as can be found anywhere in Maine.

So we went to Reed Pond, a 5,000-acre Nature Conservancy preserve that is the largest stand of old growth timber in Maine. It was a spectacular setting. We began our visit with a bird walk under the direction of Maine Audubon staff naturalist Doug Hitchcox. Doug saw twice as many bird species as he had expected to see. At one point, he called in six or seven different species and had them swirling around us!

Reed has a native brook trout population and is one of the last places where you can find arctic char (aka “blueback” trout).  Both fish have recently been restored to the pond, which had become infested with non-native rainbow smelt, and appear to be thriving once again.

Protecting forest songbirds and protecting native brook trout are key priorities for Maine Audubon. Personally, I’ve always been focused mostly on the trout that inhabit the waters of the Maine Woods, but now, thanks to my recent experience at Reed Pond, I understand as well the role our forests play as song bird habitat. Where else can you experience healthy populations of birds and brookies — as well as moose, loons and lynx?  No wonder Maine is the East’s last, best place!

- Charles

P.S., Beginning later this year, Maine Audubon will be offering some of its most loyal friends, who have joined as members of the new Maine Audubon Wildlife Stewardship Council, a chance to participate in a special birds and brookies trip to the Maine Woods. Information on the Wildlife Stewardship Council will appear soon on the Maine Audubon website. In the meantime, if you have questions about it or about my recent trip, send me an email message at cgauvin@maineaudubon.org.

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin, Executive Director

Charles Gauvin started at Maine Audubon in 2014. Gauvin brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, much of it as the president and CEO of Trout Unlimited, the nation’s leading river and fish conservation organization.Gauvin most recently served as Chief Development Officer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC. He collaborated with Carnegie scholars worldwide to develop program strategies and support in the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia and South Asia.

Action Alert! Protect Maine from Mining Pollution. Urge Legislators to Oppose LD 750.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

We need your help again to defeat weak mining rules, which are coming to the full Legislature any day! Please contact your legislators now and urge them to vote “Ought Not to Pass” on LD 750!

Last year, thanks to you and thousands of people statewide, the Maine Legislature overwhelmingly defeated bad mining rules that would have allowed dangerous mines near some of Maine’s most treasured places. Legislators heard loud and clear from you that the bad rules from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) did not protect Maine’s clean water and wildlife.

Unfortunately, weak mining rules are in front of the Legislature again! In an 8-5 vote, the majority of the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee voted in favor of an amended LD 750, which will not make DEP’s proposed mining rules protective enough. 

LD 750, as amended, does not provide clear, consistent requirements for mining companies. It doesn’t protect Maine’s clean water from mining pollution or ensure Maine taxpayers won’t pay for the messes mining companies leave behind.

Help us protect Maine from mining pollution! 

For more information, please go to our web page about Open Pit Mining in Maine or please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Posted on: Monday, June 1st, 2015

NEWS RELEASE Peony and Boy

For Immediate Release June 1, 2015
Contact: Agata Ketterick, Membership Manager

aketterick@maineaudubon.org (207) 781-2330 x232

Maine Audubon Celebrates Members at Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social

Maine Audubon will hold their annual Peony Bloom & Ice Cream Social on Tuesday, June 16, from 5 to 7 pm. The annual celebration recognizes the organization’s Peony Circle of Friends, dedicated members, donors and volunteers who have supported Maine Audubon with their time, energy and contributions for over twenty years.

The event will take place at Gilsland Farm Audubon Center in Falmouth (20 Gilsland Farm Road). Enjoy homemade ice cream donated by Toots Ice Cream (North Yarmouth) and live music from the students of 317 Main (Yarmouth).

Become a Maine Audubon member that evening and receive special discounts and a free peony flower.The event also features a children’s peony craft workshop – bring the whole family!

To learn more, please visit http://maineaudubon.org/events/peony-bloom-ice-cream-social/ or contact Agata Ketterick, Membership Manager, at aketterick@maineaudubon.org or call (207) 781-2330 x232.

Why are the peonies at Gilsland Farm so special?

David Edward Moulton (1871-1951), a prominent attorney and founder of the Portland Water District, acquired the property that was to become Gilsland Farm in 1911. His love of horticulture led him to plant many varieties of trees, shrubs and flowers on the property, but it was the peony that truly fascinated him.

By 1928, he had collected more than 200 varieties planted over four acres – reputedly one of the most complete peony collections in the country. So famous were Moulton’s flowers that individual peony roots sold for as much as $250. The Portland paper called Gilsland Farm “a show garden of peonies – wonder place of Portland.”

Though David Moulton’s fields of cultivated peonies no long exist, visitors to Gilsland Farm will find remnants of his collection blooming in the meadows and along the woodland edges every June. A cultivated formal peony garden next to the Education Center showcases the beautiful blooms that most likely bloomed during his time at the farm.

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About Maine Audubon About Maine Audubon Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 20,000 members and 2,000 volunteers. Conserving Maine’s wildlife. Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information. Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

Action Alert! Free LMF Funds and Improve Stream Crossings

Posted on: Friday, May 29th, 2015

Next week, the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee is holding public hearings on two very important bond bills – LD 1248, a bill to fund the Land for Maine’s Future program, and LD 1069, a bill to fund new and improved stream crossings.

While the bills are before the Appropriations Committee, it’s essential that committee members and leadership hear from their colleagues that there’s strong support for these initiatives.

How You Can Help

Please attend the Public Hearings

There’s no need for you to testify, but it would be really helpful to fill the room with support!

When: Wednesday, June 3, 1:00 p.m.
Where: Room 228 of the State House

Please contact your legislators — urge them to support LDs 1248 and 1069.

Let them know that LMF-funded projects have had significant positive impacts on areas important to you and your fellow Mainers. Also share with them that the Stream Crossings Bond is a timely, well-planned and cost-effective investment in improving stream crossings.

Background Information

Land for Maine’s Future
For more than two decades, the highly successful Land for Maine’s Future (LMF) Program has provided critical funding to protect forestlands, shorelines, working farms and waterfronts, salt marshes, mountain summits and other treasures of Maine’s natural heritage for generations to come.

By now you are probably aware that the Governor is refusing to release the previously approved LMF bonds. LD 1248, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for the Land for Maine’s Future Fund, proposes a $20 million bond to fund the Land for Maine’s Future program.

LMF funds have protected land in each of Maine’s 16 counties, where families can enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, snowmobiling, camping, skiing and other outdoor activities. This program has provided essential infrastructure that helps preserve Maine’s unique character and supports our natural resource based economy. With all that LMF has done, it is no wonder that over 60% of Maine voters support this program.

Stream Crossing (Culvert) Bond
Many Maine culverts are old, ineffective, and put roads, public safety and wildlife at risk. Much of our water infrastructure, including the culverts that  allow streams to pass under roads, were put in place during the World War II era or even earlier. Old culverts can get blocked or fail entirely, creating a public safety hazard and cutting fish and wildlife habitats into separate, isolated segments.

LD 1069, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Upgrade Municipal Culverts at Stream Crossings, proposes a $10 million bond to help fund improvements of our road infrastructure (stream culverts). This will improve public safety by preparing for extreme flood events and benefit Maine’s wildlife by reconnecting fish and wildlife habitat. Stream connectivity is critically important to maintaining healthy fish and wildlife populations.

The Stream Crossings Bond will improve public safety and the health of our aquatic resources. And without the LMF program, more of Maine’s natural heritage would be lost to development. For more information about both bills, please go to our website.

Please attend the hearings and contact your legislators and ask them to support LDs 1248 and 1069.  

For more information, please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

Action Alert! Take a Stand Against Solar Rollbacks

Posted on: Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

You may heard about the batch of bad bills the Governor just proposed: bills that attack solar power, other renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and steal money from the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

How You Can Help:

Today, there is a public hearing on the worst of these bills (LD 1400 and LD 1397)

Here’s a run-down of these bad bills:

LD 1400 takes a wrecking ball to all of Maine’s clean energy laws. If passed, this bill would eliminate net-metering, which is Maine’s ONLY current policy that compensates homeowners and businesses by providing a credit on electric bills for the solar power they produce. This bill would also eliminate the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires that a certain percentage of Maine’s power come from new clean, renewable energy resources. And finally, this bill substantially cuts funding to help Maine’s largest businesses and employers (such as mills and manufacturers) improve the energy efficiency of their facilities.

LD 1397 would set a terrible precedent and increase pressure to cut more timber on public lands. The bill diverts money from revenue generated by timber harvesting on public lands to provide heating assistance to low income Mainers. This is the money for which the Governor is holding the Land for Maine’s Future bond money hostage. Providing heat assistance to low income Mainers is a worthy policy objective, but there are better options available to meet this need. Legislators have introduced a bill (LD 1215) that offers a simple fix to the Efficiency Maine program. This bill, which the Governor opposes, would provide a lot more money to help low income Mainers stay warm next winter.  The bill received 11-2 vote in Committee.

For more information on conservation funding, visit our website.

LD 1398 would cut business energy-efficiency funding by $5-6 million per year, consequently increasing heating and electricity bills for Maine businesses by $25-30 million per year. A public hearing has not been scheduled for this bill, but you can email the Energy Committee today.

Instead of dismantling Maine’s clean energy laws, we should be moving forward with solar power and energy efficiency to help reduce our fossil fuel dependence and lessen climate-changing pollution.

Please help us defeat these bills.

For more information, please contact:

JenniferJenn Burns Gray

Maine Audubon Staff Attorney and Advocate

jgray@maineaudubon.org

(207) 781-2330 x224

 

Snowy Egret 5K 2015 Race Results

Posted on: Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
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Thanks to everyone who came out to run or walk at one of the most scenic and special places in Maine and support the Scarborough Marsh – the Audubon Center and the Eastern Trail Alliance. The overall female winner was Zoe Goodwin, 18, of Standish. The overall male winner was Aaron Chelate, 33, of Saco.

A list of winners by age group is here, and a lit of the winning teams and times is here.

For a complete list of finishers and their times, click here.