The dog days of summer are here, and we’re all looking for any way to beat the heat. For many, that’s meant a canoe or kayak trip at Scarborough Marsh, and we’re so thankful that we’ve been able to rent boats, lead tours, and show people the beauty of the marsh during these challenging times. Our dedicated team has worked fast and hard to make it all possible, and we thank you for your understanding and patience.
The pandemic does impede large gatherings, but our mission remains critical. Though our buildings at Gilsland Farm and Fields Pond are not open to the public, we are far from being closed. In fact, we’re busier than ever!
Your support enables us to keep moving forward on key issues that matter. Some of the key things we’re working on:
Protecting Maine’s wildlife and habitat
- Our coastal bird crew was extremely busy this summer as Piping Plovers arrived in record numbers. Eager beachgoers presented some challenges and management was more important than ever. Here’s the latest report from the crew: “At this time last year, Maine fledged 121 birds. As of July 24, Maine has fledged 163 birds!!! There are still about 40 chicks on Maine beaches and the last 2 nests are estimated to hatch this weekend. We still have Least Tern colonies in Kennebunk, Phippsburg, and Scarborough. Most of which still have nests, definitely have chicks and even some fledgers!”
- The 37th annual Loon Count was a great success, with approximately 1,400 participants on more than 350 lakes, counting loons from 7 to 7:30 am on July 18. This year we rolled out the online portal; look for results from the count in the upcoming months.
- Our conservation department has also launched a new community science project around macroinvertebrates. The Stream Explorers program will study large aquatic insects as a measure of water quality and wildlife habitat. We’re partnering with the Lakes Environmental Association (LEA), the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Portland Water District to recruit, train, and support volunteers interested in searching streams in the Sebago Lake Watershed. This project is funded by a grant from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund.
Working on energy and climate issues
- Work continues to protect Maine wildlife and wildlife habitat from the impacts of climate change. Maine Audubon staff members Eliza Donoghue and Sally Stockwell have wrapped up their important work on the Maine Climate Council, issuing critical recommendations needed to help protect natural and working lands for incorporation into the final Climate Action Plan. The Climate Council is deliberating on those recommendations and many others as they work through the fall to draft the plan. Maine Audubon will continue to advocate for a strong and equitable Action Plan through the rest of its development.
- Part of that advocacy comes from education. Early in July we launched an online discussion series called Climate Spotlight, bringing experts together to discuss issues related to climate and renewable energy. Two events have occurred already, “The State of Maine’s Climate” and “Getting Involved in Community Solar.” You can watch recordings of those and register for the rest of these free events, on topics including home energy efficiency and rooftop solar, at maineaudubon.org/energy. See why nearly two hundred people have already joined us for this informative and timely series.
- Finally, some good news! Some important and long-sought bills passed through Congress this month, which will help improve conservation in Maine and around the country for decades to come. The Great American Outdoors Act included a number of beneficial provisions, including full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and dedicated funds to help address the backlog of maintenance projects at America’s national parks. The bipartisan passage of the Great American Outdoors Act showed that all Americans recognize the value and importance of protecting outdoor spaces. We are proud of the small but important role Maine Audubon played in passing this legislation.
Creating education plans and programs
- Our education team has been busy creating virtual and subscription programs. From a partnership with Springvale Library to the Chickadee Club, a do-it-yourself summer camp with both digital packets and kits you can pick up at Gilsland Farm, our educators are finding ways to keep children and families engaged with nature.
- Maine Audubon education staff has also been working at the regional, state, and local levels to support school reopening plans in communities throughout Maine. We were part of Maine Department of Education working groups, networks of other environmental education partners, and numerous gatherings of Portland Public Schools leadership and faculty.
The pandemic has opened more doors than it has shut for us, and we hope that you’ve found silver linings as well. We’d love to hear how you are connecting to the outdoors and surviving the pandemic. How has Maine Audubon helped you combat the coronavirus blues this year? Please let us know! Send stories and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and stay cool this August.