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Andy’s note: Suddenly it’s February

Suddenly it’s February. Tomorrow we’ll be hearing about Punxsutawney Phil and his prediction about the timing of spring’s arrival. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had my fix of winter activities yet. Even our northernmost county, my native Aroostook, has less than a foot of snow on the ground as I write. However, we continue to hear news about thin ice and shallow snow across much of Maine.

The state has suffered some awful storm damage this winter, especially due to floods. On January 10, winds of 92 mph were recorded just offshore, with reports of heavy flooding dominating the state’s news. Unfortunately, that was just the warm-up. Three days later, on January 13, the sea level in Portland hit almost 15 feet, toppling the previous record set in 1978. Maine Audubon’s Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center was deeply flooded both days, but suffered little damage in comparison to other structures up and down the coast. These floods followed a string of inland river floods in 2023, including a near record flood as recently as December 18.

Climate experts have been warning of more frequent extreme weather events and Maine has certainly seen its share of those over the past year. The recent weather events heighten the importance of Maine Audubon’s climate work. They also complicate our programmatic work, whether that be the timing or activities for our longstanding educational programs like the Winter Carnival (Falmouth) and WinterFest (Holden), dealing with increased ice strandings of iconic Common Loons due to late and erratic ice formation on Maine’s lakes and ponds, or deep concerns about eroded beaches and the impact those may have on our recovery efforts of endangered Piping Plovers this summer.

The list of concerns goes on; if we continue to have less snowfall, what are the implications on Maine’s cherished wild brook trout population, or on next summer’s forest fire danger levels? What is clear is that the impact of climate change impacts both wildlife and people, but the responsibility of mitigating the impact of climate change falls on the good people of Maine. Please join us in our advocacy, conservation, and education efforts. Maine Audubon is your wildlife community, and your support is essential to our combined success.