News & Notes: Conservation Issues


MEDIA RELEASE: Citizen Scientists Needed to Help Watch for Wildlife on the Road

Posted on: Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2016

Contact: Leslie Taylor, Media Manager
[email protected]
207-781-2330 x276
mobile: 347-225-1510

Wood turtle. Photo by Tom Hodgman

FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon is looking for volunteers to survey roads in Maine for signs of animal road crossings. Now that the weather has warmed up, many animals are likely to be spotted on or near Maine roads as they move to find food and water, breed or disperse to new areas. Information collected by volunteers about where different animals attempt to cross roads and where collisions are frequent can reduce wildlife road-kill and improve safety for drivers.

Roadside observations can be submitted to Maine Audubon’s Wildlife Road Watch, a web-based map and database designed to record citizen scientists’ observations of road-side and road-killed wildlife. Volunteers should visit maineaudubon.org/wildlife-road-watch to register and start submitting observations.

Information that volunteers contribute to Wildlife Road Watch is used by biologists with Maine Audubon, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Maine Department of Transportation to help inform policy, management and financial investment decisions that will reduce habitat fragmentation and road risks to wildlife and people.

As habitats change due to a changing climate, wildlife movement becomes an important adaptation strategy and even more crucial to species survival.  Plus, roads can have a big impact on endangered species by impeding movement and separating populations, as well as killing individuals from collisions. Unless changes are made, Maine Audubon biologists report that Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are at risk of becoming extinct in Maine due to road mortality.

“The observations contributed by Wildlife Road Watch volunteers provide a critical first step in identifying ways to reduce road-kill and increase safety for people and wildlife,” said Barbara Charry, Conservation Biologist/GIS Manager for Maine Audubon.

Since the inception of the Wildlife Road Watch program in 2010, over 460 volunteers have reported over 4,800 wildlife observations of 130 different wildlife species, including reports of rare and endangered species. To view an interactive map and report of the results of four years of citizen scientist observations visit maineaudubon.or/wildlife-road-watch.

To learn more about Wildlife Road Watch, contact Barbara Charry at Maine Audubon at (207) 781-2330 x225 or [email protected]

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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 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information. Facebook: & Twitter ID: Maine Audubon

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon names Jeremy Cluchey as Director of Communications & Marketing

Posted on: Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

May 18, 2016

Contact: Leslie Taylor, Media Manager
[email protected]
207-781-2330 x276
mobile: 347-225-1510

jeremy-clucheyToday Maine Audubon announced that Jeremy Cluchey will be joining the team as Director of Communications & Marketing. A Maine native, Cluchey brings over a decade of strategic communications and management experience spanning the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Most recently as Director of Creative Design at Bates College, Cluchey oversaw the school’s award-winning digital and print marketing efforts and directed hundreds of communications projects, including a critically acclaimed responsive redesign of the college website. He also spearheaded an overhaul of the student communication system, led the design of the college’s first online platform for sharing admission decisions with applicants, and drove new uses of social media to broaden the school’s reach and influence.

Prior to Bates, Cluchey served as Digital Communications Manager at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington, DC. There he tackled a communications challenge familiar to Maine Audubon: helping a respected, evidence-based organization get its messages heard in a changing communications landscape. To this end, Cluchey established the agency’s presence on social media, instituted the collection and use of analytics and usability testing, and launched a podcast and live video chat series, producing over 140 episodes.

Executive Director Ole Amundsen welcomed Cluchey to Maine Audubon. “I am thrilled that Jeremy will be joining us in this critical role, at this important moment,” he said. “Jeremy’s mix of experience with marketing, strategy, policy, and management will be a great fit for Maine Audubon, and just what we need to take our communications to the next level.”

“I could not be happier about joining this team,” Cluchey said. “Building on the strong Maine Audubon brand and supporting the organization’s advocacy, conservation, and education efforts with strategic communications is a special opportunity. I can’t wait to get started.” Cluchey serves on the Community Advisory Board of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) and is active in his community of Bowdoinham, where he enjoys exploring the woods and rivers with his wife and two children. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University.

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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 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.

Conferences and Collaborative Ventures

Posted on: Monday, May 9th, 2016

Maine Audubon Chapter Congress

April marks spring, a time for large migrations of birds and a time of change for plants. But spring is also is a key time for bringing people together for conferences and collaborative ventures.

In early April I spoke at Colby College at a wonderful conference on Community, Culture and Conservation. Over the years, the Environmental Studies Program at Colby has significantly grown and this conference demonstrated real interdisciplinary leadership. There were lots of students attending a wide range of workshops and lectures so the interest level was high.

Twice a year Maine Audubon convenes a meeting of our affiliated chapters, some of which are separate nonprofits with their own programs and interests. The event, that we call a Chapter Congress, reflects the spirit of independence and collective action among all the participants. In listening to the different representatives from groups across the state, I was struck by the issues and challenges we all had in common, including how to remain relevant in the digital age and how to encourage young people to become involved in making a difference.

I rounded out April by presenting at the Maine Land Trust Network Conference —  an inspiring gathering! While there are more Maine land trusts (around 80) than Audubon Chapters, nevertheless, many of the issues were again the same. According the land trust census in Maine completed in 2015, on average, forty percent of board members are age 65 or older, a significant increase from the last census in 2010 when, on average, only 16 percent of boardmembers were 65 or older.

Now, these gatherings took place no more than three weeks apart. One was very optimistic about the involvement of young people while the others raised concerns over how to attract young people. I think this is where a statewide organization like Maine Audubon can help. We can see the gaps in social networks, geographic networks and we can respond to demographic trends, scaling up to state level or working with partners at a local level.

I’m looking forward to working with you on ways we can engage people of all ages in the important work of conservation.

-Ole

Ole Amundsen became Executive Director of Maine Audubon in March 2016. He brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, with a focus on landscape scale conservation, environmental education and finance. Amundsen most recently served as program manager for the national land trust, The Conservation Fund.

Predicting Hummingbird Arrivals

Posted on: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Spring is coming and many of our most loved birds will be here any day! Thanks to long running citizen science projects we can pretty accurately predict when certain species are going to arrive. One migrant that a lot of people are already talking about and eagerly awaiting is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Let’s take a look at some resources available to predict their arrival.

 

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Hummingbirds.net
Possibly the best known site for tracking hummingbird migrations is hummingbirds.net. The owner posts little dots on a map based on reports that are submitted. The dots are labelled with a date and color based on the week. You can see the most recent updates at this link but here is a snapshot from 11 April 2016 showing where Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been reported:

hummingbirds.net (1)

eBird.org
Compare the map above to this map from eBird.org (also a snapshot from 11 April 2016). You can also see the most recent map from eBird at this link.

eBird RTHU (1)

Discussion
It is pretty clear that there are some discrepancies with these two maps, most notably that the hummingbirds.net map shows our Ruby-throated Hummingbird significantly further north than eBird.org.

My problem with hummingbirds.net is the lack of credibility; anyone can submit a sighting with very little review. From their site: “The map is artwork produced by hand; the dots are placed by eyeball after looking up each report in Google Maps. Reports are mapped if they illustrate migration progress, and fit without reducing legibility.” So you have reports that are going unreviewed (seriously, I think anyone could submit a report from Maine and it would be plotted because it seems to fit with the “progress”) and there is a whole issue with observer bias from the site owner plotting the location, rather than the person who actually observed the bird.

This is assuming the reported bird was even a hummingbird. Quick glimpses of kinglets hover-feeding or even large insects can easily be mistaken for hummingbirds. I do think that hummingbirds.net provides an interesting illustration of the first wave of migrants but I always struggle with the lack of credability.

On the other hand, all reports to eBird.org (for Maine) that are submitted before May 1st require review from one of four state-reviewers. Here is a great article on the eBird data review process. There are currently about 15 records for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds before May 1st in Maine, for all years. From eBird, here is a frequency chart showing the timing of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird’s arrival in Maine:

frequency (1)

The first week of May
Though there are a few records in April, it is primarily in the first week of May that we should expect Ruby-throated Hummingbirds to return. So you’ve still got time to get your hummingbird feeder cleaned and hung (or your native plants sown) before these gems return.

-DougDoug 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.

 

MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Audubon Seeks Anglers for Brook Trout Survey Project

Posted on: Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

April 12, 2016

Contact: Leslie Taylor, Media Manager
[email protected]
207-781-2330 x276
mobile: 347-225-1510

troutlogos

Falmouth – Maine Audubon, Trout Unlimited and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) are seeking volunteer anglers to survey remote Maine ponds and coastal streams for brook trout this fishing season. Information gathered by volunteers will be used to identify populations of previously undocumented wild brook trout across the state.

Brook trout require clean, cold water, extensive inter-connected stream networks and a lack of competing species to survive and thrive.Wild brook trout have significantly declined throughout their native range due to development, land use practices, the introduction of competing fish species and angler exploitation.

Although Maine still has the most extensive distribution and abundance of brook trout remaining in the United States, the quality and abundance of some of Maine’s brook trout populations have declined in recent years. In order to protect the last stronghold in the United States of these iconic fish, understanding the extent of the species’ current range is crucial.

“Identifying the remote ponds and coastal streams with wild brook trout will greatly assist MDIFW in planning our conservation and management strategies over the next several decades,” noted Merry Gallagher, MDIFW Fisheries Research Biologist.

Volunteer anglers are needed to survey hundreds of ponds in northern Maine and coastal streams ranging from Kittery to Lubec. Project partners will provide maps, data sheets and instructions on how to survey ponds and streams. Surveys can be completed any time before September 30, 2016. The prime time for coastal stream surveys is mid-April through June, while pond fishing can be productive in both the spring and fall.

“Volunteers should be enthusiastic about fishing for brook trout, be comfortable in remote settings and have a sense of adventure,” said Jeff Reardon of Trout Unlimited.

This year marks the sixth year of the Remote Pond Survey. To date, volunteers have surveyed 380 remote Maine ponds for which no data were previously available, and 166 of those ponds were recommended to MDIFW for further surveys after volunteers caught or observed brook trout in them. Fisheries biologists subsequently confirmed wild brook trout in 57 new ponds. As a result of this volunteer-driven survey effort, Maine has added 21 new ponds to the list of State Heritage Fish Waters, which affords certain protections to help maintain healthy, viable populations of wild brook trout. More are likely to be listed in the future.

The Coastal Stream Survey was initiatedin 2014 to collect baseline data about which coastal streams sustain wild brook trout populations. Wild brook trout that live in coastal streams may migrate between fresh and saltwater, a life history strategy called diadromy. In theory, any coastal stream with access to the ocean where wild brook trout are present has the potential to harbor a population of these sea-run brook trout, or “salters”. To date, volunteers have surveyed 76 coastal streams and confirmed the presence of wild brook trout in over half of those streams.

“The success of this project is entirely dependent on volunteer participation,” noted Emily Bastian, Trout Project Coordinator at Maine Audubon. “This is an exciting opportunity for people who care about conservation and love to fish to make a meaningful contribution to the conservation of wild brook trout, a significant and unique ecological, economic and cultural resource for Maine.”

To sign up to volunteer, please contact Emily Bastian at (207) 781-2330 x207 or [email protected].  For more information about the Brook Trout Survey Project, please visit maineaudubon.org/brooktrout.

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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 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.

Conserving Maine’s wildlife.

Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.

social-media-icons-small

 

Solar Rally at the State House

Posted on: Monday, April 11th, 2016

solarformeJoin Maine Audubon and our Solar for ME coalition partners for a big solar rally at the State House next Wednesday, April 13 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

RSVP for the solar rally!

Maine is already in last place for solar in the region, but Governor LePage and his allies are working hard to further roll back solar in Maine, which would put hundreds of existing solar jobs at risk and bring much-needed solar development to a halt. Come to the State House next week to show support for solar power and LD 1649 — the comprehensive solar energy bill.

The House and the Senate will vote on LD 1649 next week, so we need to act fast. Please rally with us to stop the attack on Maine’s solar industry. There’s a lot on the line, and we need your help more than ever.

You can meet us at 8:30 a.m. at NRCM’s office to pick up a yellow solar t-shirt before the rally. If you already have a solar t-shirt, please wear it! There is a parking garage and lots of parking near NRCM’s office, which is across from the State House. Please consider carpooling to this event.

If you are unable to join us for the solar rally, please urge your legislators to support LD 1649 —we cannot let Governor LePage and his Public Utilities Commission weaken Maine’s already lagging solar industry. Phone calls and personalized emails are most effective. Find your state senator here. Find your state representative here. Or send a quick email to your legislators right now.

Join us at the State House next Wednesday, April 13, to rally for solar power. There’s a lot on the line and we need your help more than ever.

Share this rally with your friends on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/1688228294751832/

Meeting the Maine Audubon Community

Posted on: Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Don Annis and Ole Amundsen III

Greetings!

I have had a fast-paced month at Maine Audubon and have been able to get out and tour some of our sanctuaries and meet a range of folks who are engaged with our organization.

On April 1, I visited Borestone Mountain Audubon Sanctuary, near Greenville. I hiked up the snow covered trail and crossed the frozen ponds to reach our remote lodge. This was not April fool’s joke but a serious outing.

The Borestone sanctuary is a stunning example of all that Maine Audubon embodies, a magnificent landscape of rugged peaks, mature forests and cold streams and ponds – a wonderful palette for wildlife. I was privileged to get a tour of the lands, environmental center and the remote lodge with retired State Game Warden Don Annis, who has been heavily involved with caring for both the visitors and the lodge complex. His knowledge of the land, history of the facilities and people involved with Borestone over the past decade was moving.

(Left to right) Ole Amundsen II, Penobscot Valley Chapter members Jim Zeman and Gordon Russell, Properties Manager Peter Baecher

(Left to right) Ole Amundsen III, Penobscot Valley Chapter members Jim Zeman and Gordon Russell, Properties Manager Peter Baecher

I have also visited Fields Pond Audubon Center, just outside of Brewer, and met with representatives of the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon. These deeply committed volunteers are making a real different in their communities and at Fields Pond.

Later this month, I will be meeting with representatives from all of our seven chapters at our biannual Chapter Congress. This is a chance for people involved with Maine Audubon from across the state to connect and learn from each other. I look forward to hearing the different regional concerns and approaches to conservation issues.

Time and again, I see a deep commitment to stewardship and conservation among Maine Audubon volunteers and staff. The stewardship ethic embodied by these individuals is about a concern for the future and the land itself — rather than for ourselves as individuals. That’s a special commitment that I have found striking. I hope you can have a similar experience during your next visit an Audubon sanctuary, educational program or event.

Enjoy spring; it really is coming!

-Ole

Ole Amundsen became Executive Director of Maine Audubon in March 2016. He brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, with a focus on landscape scale conservation, environmental education and finance. Amundsen most recently served as program manager for the national land trust, The Conservation Fund. 

My First Days with Maine Audubon

Posted on: Friday, March 11th, 2016
ole-square


Ole Amundsen III
Executive Director

Our sanctuaries tell our story best, demonstrating what Maine Audubon is all about – helping people engage with wildlife and wild places so they better understand and cherish Maine’s natural environment.

Greetings:

I have just finished my first two weeks at Maine Audubon and WOW — we have a committed staff that is serving the state of Maine in so many ways. From protecting Piping Plovers along Maine beaches to surveying remote ponds in the deep woods of Northern Maine in search of brook trout, Maine Audubon is out in the field across the state, doing important work.

Our education programs take many forms, from summer camps to guided nature walks to our wonderful speaker series that brings world class leaders such as Dr. Bernd Heinrich and Dr. Doug Tallamy to Maine Audubon to share their experiences and talk about substantive issues that connect people with their natural environment.

What is also striking is the depth of commitment of our many volunteers, who have been working in different capacities at Maine Audubon — in some cases for decades — on any number of crucial projects. In our fast paced world, this sense of belonging and purpose is unique. This speaks to the difference that Maine Audubon has made not just for wildlife but also in the lives of real people.

In the coming months I look forward to getting out in the field and touring Maine Audubon sanctuaries and meeting our committed members, conservation partners and supporters. Walking around Gilsland Farm in Falmouth you can’t help but be impressed by waterfront views, rolling fields and apple orchard — a stimulating mix of natural landscape and historic Maine farmland in a visual balance. The diversity of sanctuaries and facilities managed by Maine Audubon and open to the public is striking. Our sanctuaries tell our story best, demonstrating what Maine Audubon is all about — helping people engage with wildlife and wild places so they better understand and cherish Maine’s natural environment.

t-shirt-500x500Of course our great staff, compelling programs and sanctuaries need financial support and I have been impressed with the range of ways people can help. Now, I don’t know about your dresser drawer, but I have a lot of T-shirts. Yet, the special T-shirt designed by Maine Unites, was so catchy, relevant and fun, I bought them for the whole family. That’s good design and good fundraising!

So this is what a few days at Maine Audubon have had to offer me. I hope to help you have as rich and meaningful experience with Maine Audubon soon.

-Ole

Ole Amundsen became Executive Director of Maine Audubon in March 2016. He brings more than 25 years of experience in conservation leadership, with a focus on landscape scale conservation, environmental education and finance. Amundsen most recently served as program manager for the national land trust, The Conservation Fund. 

Students in Search of a Snowy Owl

Posted on: Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

I recently had the pleasure of going birding with a group of students from Windham Middle School to look for a Snowy Owl. I’ve had the pleasure of working with this group before. Their teacher, Ryan Rumsey, has been working with Maine Audubon and teaching his students to bird for a couple years now. Incorporating birds and birding into a number of activities, the students have been actively participating in Project Feederwatch and using eBird to document the birds that visit the feeders outside their classroom.

You can follow their sightings, including a summary of our Snowy Owl trip, at their blog: http://windhamfeederwatch.blogspot.com

WA-group-shot-web

One way we help students on these trips is by sharing the resources and tools that Maine Audubon has available. With a couple Swarovski spotting scopes, the kids were able to get excellent views of the distant Snowy Owl and even ‘digiscope’ (use a camera aimed through the scope) to take pictures of the owl.

The class has been doing a fundraiser so they can purchase their own scope and are now only about $225 away! Please consider donating here.

Brunswick-web

“Brunswick” the Snowy Owl

Perhaps the coolest part of this trip was that it was a very special Snowy Owl that we went to see. This owl is part of Project Snowstorm and has been fitted with a transmitter so that its movements can be tracked.

It was relocated from the Brunswick Executive Airport (giving it the name “Brunswick”) to the Rachel Carson NWR on January 13, 2016. Since then it has been roaming the coastline from Kennebunkport to Ogunquit, but it is mostly seen around Wells. You can follow her movements (and also consider donating to Project Snowstorm) here:

For the weeks, months and hopefully years to come the students will be able to “follow” this Snowy Owl around thanks to Project Snowstorm. It’s already quite amazing to see the area “Brunswick” has covered!

Below you can a snapshot from Project Snowstorm confirming our bird was “Brunswick.”

 

Brunswick-on-Project-Snowstorm-web

 

I also have to give these students a ton of credit for doing this during their February vacation week! Rather than sleeping in, watching tv or doing whatever teenagers do, these kids were up before dawn exploring nature in below zero temperatures. (It was a balmy 10ºF when we finally found the owl.)  Way to go, Mr. Rumsey’s class!

-DougDoug 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.

 

Maine Audubon Supports Comprehensive Solar Legislation

Posted on: Friday, February 26th, 2016

Maine Audubon supports the proposed comprehensive solar legislation that will give Maine a big boost in expanding solar power here in Maine in terms of both increasing the amount of solar power generated and increasing opportunities for community solar. Maine Audubon is proud to host a 42 kw solar system at our Gilsland Farm headquarters located in Falmouth. The system provides approximately 84% of our electricity at Gilsland Farm.  Climate change is the number one threat to wildlife and habitat in Maine. It’s incumbent on us to support efforts to advance solar power, thereby reducing carbon emissions. We think the proposed legislation has a lot to offer and we urge the Legislature to approve it.

—Jenn Burns Gray, staff attorney and advocate

Read more about the proposed legislation:

Ratepayers save big, jobs triple under dramatic solar plan for Maine, advocates say
(Portland Press Herald, February 25)