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What Does the Future Hold for Southern Maine’s Beaches? Friday Event to Feature Climate Scientist Cameron Wake

Contact: Kristen Whiting-Grant, 207-646-1555 x115

SOUTH PORTLAND — The southern Maine coast is the most populated and most frequently visited region in the state. Sandy beaches are a major attraction for residents and visitors alike, fueling the economy. Yet Maine’s beaches face an uncertain future, as climate change and population pressure will present many challenges in the coming decades. Public officials, coastal property owners, tourists, and businesses each have a different interest in the beach, but a common desire for sustaining these valuable natural resources. Ways to achieve this goal, and the changes facing Maine’s beaches, will be discussed at the 2007 Maine Beaches Conference on Friday, June 22, in South Portland.

Cameron Wake, a research associate professor with the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space at the University of New Hampshire, will present an overview of climate change in the Northeast. Margaret Davidson, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Services Center, will discuss the concept of resiliency as applied to southern Maine beaches and lessons learned from other regions where the Coastal Services Center is working with communities to help them cope with climate change and adapt to risks from coastal hazards. 

Public officials, coastal property owners, and beach users all have different priorities when dealing with Maine’s changing beaches. Will beach erosion affect homes and businesses? Is coastal water quality getting better or worse? What regulatory or legislative changes are on the horizon? Conference participants will have the chance to discuss these questions and possible solutions to potential conflicts.

In the afternoon, participants will have the chance to visit the Portland Harbor Museum, explore rocky tidepools, view a dune restoration project and methods to protect water quality at Willard Beach, or learn how to measure beach erosion. Indoor activities include showings of the films An Inconvenient Truth and Coastal Clash. The conference concludes at 4 p.m. with a reception at the Portland Harbor Museum.

The Maine Beaches Conference is sponsored by Southern Maine Community College, Maine Coastal Program, Maine Sea Grant, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, SOS Maine, Maine Geological Survey, Surfrider Northern New England Chapter, and Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.

For more information, visit www.maine.gov/doc/nrimc/mgs/mgs.htm, or call Kristen Whiting-Grant at 207-646-1555 x115.

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