The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 11/23/2014.
The most important thing I can say about this year’s midterm election is simply: thank you for voting.
Maine had the highest voter turnout in the entire 50 states, with 59.3% of us going to the polls, well above the national average of 36%. If it was the “gu-bear-natorial” nature of our election, so be it: each vote tallied was an expression of individual preference. Some races were decided by single digits; others, by lopsided majorities. In each race, and on each ballot question, we now know what a majority of our fellow Mainers decisively think. That’s valuable information and worth thinking about.
Water qaulity monitoring in the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers continues in 2014, with findings that indicate continued impairments and risks for human health. See this press release in the York County Coast Star from November 5th.
Join us at the Wells Reserve on December 3rd for a discussion about the volunteer monitoring program and what the data is telling us about these rivers.
Since 2009, volunteers with the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers Alliance (MKRA) have been collecting measurements of river conditions in the Mousam and Kennebunk Rivers. This effort is part of a statewide program begun by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2009 and was initiated based on a need for more data on in-stream conditions in Maine's rivers. The Volunteer River Monitoring Program is modeled after the long standing Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program, which engages community members in conducting science based conservation work to protect water quality in Maine lakes.
MKRA volunteers collect measurements throughout the summer months when river conditions can reach critical levels due to low flows, high temperatures, and greater inputs of pollutants from runoff. From June through September volunteer teams visit 20 monitoring sites in the two rivers, collecting readings of dissolved oxygen, temperature, and conductivity, and taking water samples for analysis of bacteria levels. The data is compiled in the fall and submitted to DEP, which then analyzes the readings and produces an annual report that summarizes the conditions in the rivers.
In 1989, after a few years away, my wife and I moved back to Maine. Just a few months earlier, the Maine Supreme Court had handed down its “Moody Beach decision,” confining public use of privately owned beach property to the colonial era’s permitted uses of “fishing, fowling and navigation.” As someone with a profound love for the Maine coast, I read the court’s decision with great personal and professional interest.
For most of my career, I have worked to conserve special places in Maine — to protect natural resources and to provide the public with access to the coast. Realizing that 2014 would mark 25 years since “Moody,” I organized a public lecture series so people could better understand and appreciate the legal issues surrounding public access and private ownership of coastal lands.
This summer and fall the Reserve hosted four evenings that involved all the key players from “Moody” and subsequent court cases dealing with coastal access in Maine. Each time, we filled the auditorium to capacity.
It was a great experience for all of us. Together we learned that Maine is not an anomaly; other states have access conflicts and must also contend with legal ambiguities over shoreline use and ownership.
The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 11/2/2014.
From reports, it sounds like this year’s midterm election is a doozy, money-wise: across the country, campaigns are spending record sums marketing their candidates and causes. So I read, anyway: I do not watch broadcast TV, I have an ad blocker on my computer, and I only listen to satellite radio and MPBN. Voluntarily [and gratefully] deaf to the din from most of the marketing wars, I rarely hear about the latest advances in breakfast cereal, let alone the biannual election season onslaught.
About the only political advertising I do see are ads in newspapers (bless you, candidates, for feeding our starving print publishers), and outdoor campaign signs.
On September 26, 2013, the Wells Reserve invited a team of ghosthunters from New Hampshire, the Seeking the Unknown Realm Society, to spend a dark and eerie night poking through the basements, barns, attics and outbuildings of the Wells Reserve.
Accompanied by [skeptical] Reserve educators Suzanne Kahn, Kate Reichert, and Caretaker Ed, the ghosthunters deployed their electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors, infrared cameras, and flickery flashlights across "old Laudholm Farm."
What they found surprised and shocked them.
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