Poster Session

Poster SessionMaine Sustainability & Water Conference
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine

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Poster Winners

High School Poster Competition – First Place

High School Poster Competition – Honorable Mention

Undergraduate Poster Competition – First Place

Undergraduate Poster Competition – Honorable Mention

Graduate Poster Competition – First Place

Graduate Poster Competition – Honorable Mention

Session Overview

High School Posters

Undergraduate Posters

Graduate Posters

Professional Posters

Presenters are indicated in bold font.

High School Posters

1. The Development of a Pour-Through Oil-Water Column Filter to Effectively Extract Microplastics From Water

First Place - Alexander Busko
High School Poster Competition. First Place: Alexander Busko

Alexander Busko (student)
Bangor High School, Bangor, ME

For the first time, a pour-through oil-water column filter that uses the non-polarity and density of vegetable oil has been created to remove microplastics from water. As like molecules attract, non-polar oil is a candidate substance to remove non-polar microplastics from polar water molecules. Using this molecular characteristic, Ferreira (2019) achieved an 87% microplastic removal efficiency. A revised filter design has integrated the density difference between vegetable oil and water to simplify and increase effectiveness of Ferreira’s process. Microplastics-spiked water (influent) was poured into the top of an oil-water column. The water sank through the oil due to its higher density; the oil removed the microplastics by molecular attraction. The filtered water that collected below the vegetable oil (effluent) was passively drained through the bottom of the column. Influent and effluent samples were processed through a vacuum filtration system; the microplastic removal was determined using image processing. This MATLAB algorithm compared the area of the filter paper covered in microplastic pre and post filtration. A t-test comparison was performed of this method against a standard counting method. The observed t-value was 0.57 and the critical t-value was 2.021. The column was found to remove an average of 99.19% of the microplastics with a standard deviation of 0.563%. These results demonstrate that a high microplastic removal efficiency can be achieved with a straightforward and inexpensive system. A next step will be to upscale the filter column for large-scale applications to remove microplastics from small surface water bodies.

2. Pushing the pH: How Ocean Acidification is Affecting the Earth’s Phytoplankton

Honorable Mention. Sofie Rueter
High School Poster Competition. Honorable Mention: Sofie Rueter

Sofie Rueter (student)
Bangor High School, Bangor, ME

By monitoring the growth of two species of phytoplankton, Microcystis aeruginosa and Nannochloropsis oculata, the former of which is a ubiquitously found freshwater phytoplankton and the latter a species of phytoplankton found in all of Earth’s oceans, it has been demonstrated that acidification of water causes a decrease in the population of phytoplankton populations. By examining the effects of acidification on marine and freshwater phytoplankton, scientists will be more able to predict the effects of climate change on life as we know it. Producing over fifty percent of Earth’s oxygen, phytoplankton are essential to maintaining a natural equilibrium of oxygen and carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. While much research has been conducted on the behavior of phytoplankton, there is surprisingly little data on the effects of low pH (acidification of water) on phytoplankton. The ramifications of a decreasing phytoplankton population will have critical consequences for all life on Earth. By raising awareness and learning more about these crucial components of our planet, we will be able to better understand the impacts of climate change on the Earth.

Undergraduate Posters

3. Grain Size Characteristics of Sediments in Temple Stream Pre- and Post-Dam Removal

Luke Bliss (student), Alice Bowden, (student), Kayleigh Brisard (student), Gil Hamilton (student), Jeremy Pica (student), Will Robert (student), Chelsea Roy (student), Brent Soucy (student), Carson Theriault (student), Julia Daly
Division of Natural Sciences, University of Maine Farmington, Farmington, ME

In July 2022 an historic spillover dam on Temple Stream, a tributary to the Sandy River in Franklin county, was removed following a multi-year planning process involving the town of Farmington, numerous state and federal agencies, and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. The watershed is 89 km2 and largely forested, and is of significant interest as potential Atlantic salmon breeding habitat because of the cool water and moderate gradient. Since 1780, when the dam was constructed, sediment movement through the lower reaches of the stream was impeded by the structure which created an impoundment extending 1.7 km upstream. Sediment samples and drone photography collected above, within, and below the impoundment before and after removal for grain size analysis allow us to track sediment mobilization and downstream deposition associated with dam removal. Samples were dried and sieved for sand and larger sizes, or settled for fines, to characterize the grain size distribution of three different populations: pre-removal channel bed sediments, sediments actively transported during baseflow conditions following dam removal, and sediment deposited as overbank deposits during high water events after dam removal. Within the impoundment, sediments collected in the channel prior to dam removal are much finer (silt-mud) than the coarse sand which was actively migrating downstream following removal. Downstream of the former dam location, high flow events resulted in somewhat finer sand being deposited in an area that was previously sediment starved. Future sampling at these locations will characterize changes in sediment size and deposition patterns over time.

4. A GIS-Based Groundwater Susceptibility Assessment for the State of Maine

Eli Boesch Dining (student), Holly A. Ewing, Christian A. Johnson
Bates College, Lewiston, ME

PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) contamination is a major issue in Maine today. Occurring in everything from rain jackets to furniture, the chemical family has been linked to serious human health concerns such as cancer and reproductive issues. Maine has conducted some testing, but the near-ubiquitous nature of PFAS in manufacturing indicates contamination may be widespread. We have created a groundwater susceptibility map using geological, land-use, and state PFAS testing data to visualize areas across the state where groundwater is especially vulnerable to surface contamination. The results of this project are areas which should be prioritized for future PFAS testing.

5. Evaluating eDNA Metabarcoding as a Mic-roe-scopic Net to Catch Salmon Pathogens

Noah Burby1,2 (student), Erin Grey1,3, Benjamin King1,2, Michael Kinnison3
1. Honors College, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. School of Molecular & Biomedical Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. School of Biology & Ecology, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Wild Atlantic salmon in the Gulf of Maine (GOM) is a Distinct Population Segment (DPS) that has been listed since 2000 as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The current challenge is year-over-year decreases in the number of mature salmon returning to the Penobscot River for reproduction. Analysis of pathogen presence could allow for the identification of infection and the application of corrective measures. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is simply DNA that is collected from environmental samples (e.g., water, air, and soils), which consists of whole microorganisms and genetic material shed from macroorganisms (feces, skin, gametes, etc.). Purifying, testing, sequencing, and analyzing eDNA can help us rapidly identify the presence of these organisms in the sample. This project evaluates current methods’ ability to detect salmon parasites from eDNA samples. Using computer-based alignment analysis, I first verified the potential of published primer sets to amplify known pathogen genomes. Then, I tested amplification in vitro via quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay with gBlocks of target parasites. After verifying these genes’ amplification, I used DNA metabarcoding data from index sites (estuarine locations along the Maine coast where samples are routinely collected for Maine-eDNA) to determine whether these pathogens were present. The metabarcoding analysis results will help identify the presence of these pathogens. Continued monitoring using this novel approach will further the goals of protecting the GOM Atlantic salmon DPS to survive in its native habitat.

6. The Road to Load Estimation for Frenchman Bay Water Quality Assessments

Angeline Casella (student)1, Sean Smith1,3, Taylor Bailey2, Lauren Ross2, Bea Van Dam1, Kenen Goodwin1, Morgan Oehler2
1. School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Water quality hazards, such as bacterial pollution and harmful algal blooms (HABs), threaten the economic stability of aquaculture businesses and create public health concerns. HAB events can be triggered by multiple factors related to water quality conditions in coastal estuaries. Understanding of coastal land-sea connection dynamics and knowledge of water quality loads from contributing watersheds can help guide responsive management actions. Important water quality loads to consider are those associated with nonpoint source watershed runoff, particularly nutrients and sediment. Frenchman Bay is home to shellfish harvesting businesses affected by bacterial related closures and HAB events in the past. Our research focuses on estimation of water quality loads from Frenchman Bay estuary watersheds to better inform management of these issues. Loads are quantified as mass of a pollutant per time and calculated as the product of pollutant concentration and surface water discharge over time. Our approach uses a set of nutrient and sediment concentration measurements, runoff discharge measurements to validate a hydrologic model, and rainfall runoff simulations in contributing watersheds using the USACOE Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC HMS). Simulations are run at hourly time steps for summer and fall months in 2016, 2021, and 2022. Hourly discharge rates are then coupled with constituent concentration measurements to estimate water quality loads at watershed outlets over storm events, months, and seasons. Here we present preliminary results from our load analyses with comparisons to other locations to assess water quality conditions linked to pollution problems and HAB events in the region.

7. Oviposition Preferences of Culex Pipiens and Culex Restuans and Improving Species-Specific Surveillance Methodology

Halle Evans (student)1,2, Allison Gardner3
1. UNC-Chapel Hill, Dept. of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Chapel Hill, NC
2. NSF REU ANEW Participant
3. Allison Gardner, University of Maine, School of Biology and Ecology, Orono, ME

Culex pipiens and Culex restuans are two WNV (West Nile Virus) vector mosquito species. Effective species-specific mosquito surveillance and methodology is important when implementing successful public health interventions. Creating effective surveillance methods requires an understanding of mosquito ecology and behavior, including oviposition (i.e., egg-laying) habitat selection. Culex species preferentially lay their eggs in artificial container habitats. While these are often seen in the form of tires, stormwater catch basins, and tree holes, mosquito breeding habitats can commonly be found on residential properties. Here they are seen in the form of bird baths, dog bowls, and trash cans. Residential properties are less thought of as potentially harboring a dangerous disease vector, increasing their need for mosquito surveillance methods in these areas. This experiment attempts to find the most effective treatment attractant by focusing on the aquatic life stages. Different water-based infusions were based on popular gravid trapping techniques. The treatments chosen were grass clippings, rabbit pellets, hay, and yeast and sugar. They were tested alongside a distilled water control. These treatments were monitored over a four-week experimental period in five, five-liter buckets across five residential sites in Bangor, ME. We concluded that the rabbit pellet treatment was most effective. This result is predicted to be explained by microbial and chemical interactions that influence oviposition habitat preferences. More research is needed to analyze the influence of additional environmental conditions related to breeding behavior such as organic matter concentration and overall container size as well as emphasize a need for species-specific interventions.

8. Wake Boat Management on East Pond

Margo Kenyon (student)
Colby College, Waterville, ME

Maine’s 6,000 lakes supports 8,000 jobs and annually generates $30 million in income for Maine residents. Some studies have found that a decline in water clarity due to algal blooms can reduce property values by as much as $200 per frontage foot. Alum treatments are one solution that can be used to address water clarity on lakes, although the long term efficacy of the treatments on larger lakes is unknown. Our research consists of evaluating the potential negative correlation between wake boating and the efficacy of the alum treatment that was recently done on East Pond in Smithfield, ME. As part of this research, we have explored various potential mitigation tools that could be implemented on East Pond to regulate sediment resuspension by wake boats. Potential tools include increased signage, setbacks from the shoreline, depth restrictions, speed limits, safe passage precautions, education, and compliance exams. These potential solutions have been presented to our advisory panel, which has served as a sounding board for the community and provided helpful feedback. The advisory panel consists of members from Maine DEP, Lakes Environmental Association, North Pond Association, Camp Manitou, East Pond Association, Maine Lakes, and McGrath Pond – Salmon Lake Association. Feedback from these groups will soon be used to survey lake users and shoreline owners about their perceptions of water quality treatment and wake boat management strategies that can be implemented to help minimize the impact on the alum treatment.

9. Seeing the Forests for the Streams: the framing of stream diagnostics for watershed management decision-making

Honorable Mention: Cade King
Undergraduate Poster Competition. Honorable Mention: Cade King

Robert “Cade” King (student)1, Angeline Casella1, Samuel Roberts1, Hayden Libby2, Morgan Oehler2, Bea Van Dam1, Neil Thompson3, Sean Smith1,4

1. University of Maine School of Earth & Climate Sciences, Orono, ME
2. University of Maine Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Orono, ME
3. University of Maine Fort Kent, Forest Resources, Fort Kent, ME
4. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine, Orono, ME

Geomorphologically based diagnostic tools are important to long term watershed management and sustainability solutions in Maine. Fluvial channel conditions and freshwater aquatic habitat are largely governed by water and sediment supplies, resistance to water flow and erosion, and corresponding relations to channel dynamics and morphology. The foundation that watershed diagnostics in Maine woodlands rest upon includes variables predictive of surface runoff, terrain elevations, hydraulic dimensions, and features governing water flows and sediment transport in stream corridors. Changes to water and sediment supply can produce geomorphological alterations with implications to water quality and habitat. Pervasive human activities that have the potential to alter watershed hydrology and erosion patterns in northern Maine woodlands include roadway and skid trail construction, and removal of forest cover on hillslopes and in stream corridors. Contemporary stream systems can be modified by these watershed changes as well as perturbations from past forest harvest operations. They can also be affected by relatively rapid changes in climate that alter the timing and magnitude of stream flows. Here we summarize recent outcomes from efforts to develop stream diagnostic tools tailored to conditions in the headwaters of northern Maine woodlands. The research focuses on Smith Brook watershed down to Fish River Lake in Aroostook County using stream mapping protocols, hydrologic measurements and modeling, and hydraulic analyses. Outcomes are being framed to support watershed management related to large scale forest harvest operations and sustainability of cold water fisheries.

10. Implementation of a Gauge Station at Ayers Island

Hayden Libby1 (student), Sean Smith2, Lauren Ross1, Cade King2, Joseph Zylewski3
1. Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. School of Earth and Climate Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Orono, ME

A water discharge monitoring station was constructed on the Penobscot River at Ayers Island to create a record of freshwater input to Penobscot Bay based on a rating curve relating water surface elevations to discharge. The approach involved several primary research components: 1) Installation of a fixed pressure sensor to continuously monitor flow stages based on water surface elevations; 2) Measurement of river channel dimensions using available bathymetry and terrain data; 3) Comparative analyses of flow conditions at long term Penobscot River discharge gauge stations; 4) Measurement of river discharge using a towed acoustic Doppler current profiler; 5) Hydraulic simulations using a one-dimensional hydraulic model; and 6) Construction of a discharge rating curve. Results from the research activities produced the foundation for a functional river discharge gauging station with real time reporting of river flow conditions that can be remotely accessed on the internet. Hydraulic simulations provide estimates of flow conditions necessary for rating curve development that can be validated with river flow measurements and compared to predictions from other stations. Future efforts will focus on collection of additional discharge measurements over a range of flow stages to increase the accuracy of the freshwater outflow monitoring at the station.

11. Measuring Antioxidant Concentrations and Rates of Electron Transfer in Natural Water Systems

Danielle Lucey (student), Brian DiMento, Whitney King
Colby College, Waterville, ME

Antioxidants are chemical species that react quickly with reactive oxygen species (ROS), decreasing oxidative stress. In physiological systems, antioxidants famously protect against cellular damage, but they are also present in natural water systems, where they regulate ROS concentrations impacting dissolved organic carbon. The identity of these antioxidants is still an area of active research, but their reactive concentrations can be measured indirectly via competition with a known ROS probe for superoxide (O2-). Superoxide reacts with an analytical reagent, MCLA, to produce light, with light intensities decreasing with increasing antioxidant concentrations.

We present a method for antioxidant detection using the chemiluminescent probe MCLA. The antioxidant measurement was executed using flow injection analysis and calibrated with ascorbic acid, which serves as a model antioxidant.

Antioxidant concentrations in surface seawater during the day were between 200-1000 nM, depending on solar illumination. Antioxidant concentrations decreased with a 20 minute, first-order decay when removed from sunlight. Seawater samples stored in the dark produced antioxidants when placed under a solar simulator delivering 308 nm light, indicating that at least some of the antioxidants are produced by photochemical reactions in solution. Similar measurements in freshwater lakes show significantly lower concentrations of antioxidants. Differences between these two matrices are being investigated to determine why freshwater systems have so much lower concentrations of antioxidants. These measurements set limits on the rate of photochemically driven electron transfer reactions in natural waters.

12. Understanding Phosphorus Transport from On-Site Wastewater Systems to Lake Auburn

Evan Ma (student), Holly Ewing
Bates College, Program in Environmental Studies, Lewiston, ME

Studies that assess the contributions of phosphorus (P) from on-site wastewater systems (OWS) at the watershed level often rely on soil survey data that may not accurately reflect the soils that exist in OWS drainfields. Accurate soil data is integral to understanding the impact of OWS because soil texture and mineralogy determine the P sorption capacity of the soil. In the Lake Auburn Watershed, data from municipal permits reveal hotspots of P loading from OWS as well as specific soil information for each drainfield, which reveal P dynamics that discharge P to critical inflows to the lake. This study seeks to understand the movement of P from OWS drainfields to Lake Auburn through the subsurface, assess the efficiency of OWS drain fields qualitatively and quantitatively, and understand how site evaluations compare to county-level soil survey data. Preliminary results suggest that a cluster of OWS situated in well-drained sands and gravels may contribute large amounts of nutrients to a stream that is known to have high P concentrations. OWS are likely to contribute more P to Lake Auburn than previously believed. A reason for this is that many OWS have a shallow depth to groundwater or bedrock that leads to inadequate P attenuation, which proposed ordinance changes may remedy. However, policy changes have other consequences on land use that may increase other sources of P loading. Moreover, the delay of P transport in the subsurface may affect how quickly changes to OWS design affect water quality.

13. Characterizing Events of Toxic and Non-Toxic Diatom and Dinoflagellate Bloom Radiation From Harpswell Sound, a Protected Shallow Incubator Fed by Deep Water

First Place: Charles O'Brien
Undergraduate Poster Competition. First Place: Charles O’Brien

Charlie O’Brien (student), Collin Roesler, Susan Drapeau
Bowdoin College, Earth and Oceanographic Science, Brunswick, ME

Harpswell Sound (HS) is a 15km-long inlet within Casco Bay that has important control on Maine’s shelf-sea ecosystem health, yet its complex currents and phytoplankton bloom dynamics have not been characterized in sufficient detail. In our research, we investigated the seasonality, ecological succession, and bloom locations of phytoplankton populations in HS between 2020 and 2022 using high-resolution automated microscopy data and current velocity data. Currents in and out of the sound have a distinct seasonal pattern that aligns with seasonal stratification and mixing. By using spectral analysis to decompose taxa biovolume timeseries into high-tide and low-tide populations, we could identify that most blooms originate in the shallow coves at the head of the sound. We suggest that inner-HS acts primarily as an incubator for diatom blooms and, to a lesser degree, as an incubator for blooms of toxin-producing diatoms and dinoflagellates. The general pattern we observe is that toxin-producing dinoflagellates take advantage of a malnourishing incubator in stratified summer conditions, but as nutrients from depth are replenished to the incubator during fall mixing, large diatoms come to dominate the community. Continued flow toward the head of the sound at depth in winter sustains diatom populations whose growth is constrained by temperature. In spring, diatom blooms grow faster and are flushed out of the incubator by strong currents derived from the Kennebec River plume. This work demonstrates that we can now better quantify the lowest trophic level in marine ecosystems and understand radiation of harmful algal blooms on Maine’s coast.

14. Geochemistry of Surface Waters Near the Plumbago North Lithium-Bearing Pegmatite, Newry, Maine

Will Robert (student)1, Doug Reusch1, LeeAnn Munk2, Dwight Bradley3, Myles Felch4, Dyk Eusden5, Amber Whittaker6
1. University of Maine Farmington, Farmington, ME
2. University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AL
3. U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA
4. Maine Mineral & Gem Museum, Bethel, ME
5. Bates College, Lewiston, ME
6. Maine Geological Survey, Augusta, ME

Geochemical analysis of surface waters near the Plumbago North (PbN) spodumene-bearing granitic pegmatite was initiated in Fall 2022 to provide an environmental baseline for any future lithium mining. We collected seven 125 mL filtered (0.45 microns) samples: from a perennial pool in the PbN quarry, Spodumene Brook (1 site above, 3 sites below PbN, Howe Brook (control), and the Ellis River at USGS Site 01054300 (upstream). Samples were collected on 2022.09.27 and again on 2022.11.06. The samples were analyzed for concentrations of major, minor and trace elements by ICP-MS, for chloride and sulfate by ion chromatograph, and for alkalinity by charge balance at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s ASET Lab. All samples  are calcium-bicarbonate in composition. Lithium concentrations at the six stream sites range from 1.5 to 6.6 mg/L (September) and 27 to 37 mg/L (November), which are less than pool values (167-172 mg/L), and all lower than the “EPA-recommended 700 mg/L threshold.” Lithium in Spodumene Brook is 1-4x more concentrated than outside of the watershed, consistent with similar studies of lithium-bearing pegmatite drainages in Ireland, eastern Europe, and Portugal. While our discharge measurements did not reveal significant variation from September to November, the 6-fold contrast in lithium concentration may be a dilution effect or, possibly, related to the coincident loss of foliage, increase of leaf litter and production of organic acids.

15. Landfills, an Overlooked Cost to the PFAS Global Crisis

Molly Shea (student), Caroline Noblet, Dianne Kopec
University of Maine, Orono, ME

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of man-made chemicals that are used in consumer and industrial products around the world. These chemicals do not break down over time and have been linked to adverse human health effects. Maine has taken substantial steps to reduce the prevalence of these chemicals in drinking water by banning the use of wastewater residuals (sludge) as a fertilizer for farms. However, these actions have led to changes in how we dispose of PFAS contaminated sludge which presents an array of new challenges. PFAS laden sludge entering landfills has caused strain to landfills in ways that are not well-known, including increased volume of waste, cost of transportation and costs associated with potentially contaminated landfill leachate. The current research investigates these costs in an effort to inform decision-makers about the consequences of changing the way Maine addresses contaminated wastewater disposal. Utilizing Juniper Ridge Landfill data, we explore how Maine’s changing sludge policies, LD 1911, have changed the inflow of sludge to the landfill. We use Maine citizen survey results to motivate how this strain on landfills from PFAS is overlooked. We examine the current literature to explore some of the indirect environmental costs to landfills from PFAS including transportation costs, contamination to the environment and indirect costs to landfills that all may be reflected in higher water and sewer bills for Maine citizens. While Maine is taking strides to address PFAS contamination around the state, this work highlights the importance of understanding the indirect costs.

16. Maine Municipal Provision of Digital Services and Information

Dean Syed1 (student), Vanessa Levesque1, Kathleen Bell2, Eileen Johnson3
1. University of Southern Maine, Portland, ME
2. University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

We designed a digital services index (DSI) to assess each municipality in Maine’s provision of digital services and information. The DSI tracked digital services and information supplied by Maine municipalities to quantify their capacity in four categories: use of digital platforms, provision of digital information, provision of digital service transactions, and digital participation/democracy. We theorize many digital capabilities we tracked can serve as proxies for analyzing technical capacity in other areas. For example, we believe the digital availability of a building permit application demonstrates a technical capacity to provide other digital information. Of data collected from 105 municipalities thus far, a prominent finding is that many small rural municipalities demonstrated strong technical capacities in providing digital services and information. 75% of municipalities maintained official online websites. Of the municipal governments without an official website 27% maintained an official online presence through various social media platforms. 74% of municipalities provided at least one form of digital information. 16% of municipalities provided at least one digital service transaction capability, and 43% of governments provided at least one way to digitally participate in municipal affairs. We believe that a strong capacity in digital service and information provision correlates to increased resilience against COVID 19 and against other natural and economic disasters. We further believe that our model may give insight into local government response capability to other epidemics and disasters.

17. Citizen Perceptions of the Sustainability of Marine Aquaculture

Bruce Wyatt (student), Caroline Noblet
University of Maine School of Economics, Orono, ME

As the world confronts the need for sustainable food systems, marine aquaculture serves as a key opportunity to produce safe, sustainable seafood. However, marine aquaculture still faces social resistance to its adoption with environmental and economic concerns leading to citizen and consumer hesitations regarding the industry and its products. In this study, we explore factors that lead to a citizen holding primarily positive or negative views of marine aquaculture with a focus on whether these views are driven by environmental or economic perceptions. Using a survey of Maine coastal residents (n=295), we find that subjects whose use of the Maine coast has been positively impacted by marine aquaculture were more likely to view marine aquaculture as positive, less likely to have concerns over the implementation of marine aquaculture farms, and more likely to view mariculture as both environmentally and economically positive. Additionally, subjects who were unemployed and experiencing financial hardship were more likely to view marine aquaculture as having negative economic impacts along with other associated negative impacts on communities. Finally, we find that subjects who think they need to know more about marine aquaculture and have high financial hardship are less likely to view mariculture as economically positive. In contrast participants who thought they needed to know more about marine aquaculture and have low financial hardship were more likely to view the industry as economically positive. Understanding public perception of marine aquaculture ensures that coastal managers can make decisions that are consistent with preferred uses of Maine’s coastline.

Graduate Posters

18. Resilient Coastal Solutions for Maine, and Worldwide

Yuksel Rudy Alkarem (student), Liam Hanley (student), Elisabeth Younce (student), Nicolas Cyr (student), Debora Barros (student), Taylor Bailey (student)
Coasts, Oceans, Ports, and Rivers Institute (COPRI), University of Maine, Orono, ME

The University of Maine is developing sustainable engineering solutions with high potential applications for coastal communities in Maine and worldwide. Research supports both infrastructure and industry. General topics include enhancement of floating offshore wind technologies to reduce energy cost, mitigation of biofouling on aquaculture farms, floating breakwaters for erosion control, mixing in coastal environments, nature based coastal protection, and harmful algae blooms. Current research utilizes a variety of methods from numerical simulations to experimental and field observations, with focuses on: (1) prolonging the lifespan of offshore wind energy systems through investigating high-level control techniques, (2) influence of the morphology of a funnel-shaped inlet in current speeds and turbulent mixing in a micro-tidal stratified system, (3) impacts of hydrodynamics on biofouling and vice versa within an aquaculture farm (4) wave-attenuation and coastal erosion effects of aquaculture farms (5) investigating hydrodynamic impacts on water quality, including harmful algae blooms. Outcomes of this work will inform government agencies, stakeholders, and fellow scientists and engineers. While contributing to the development of sustainable coastal solutions, the work of the coastal engineering group also seeks to advance research in the fields of coastal engineering and physical oceanography.

19. Linking Coastal Circulation to Harmful Algal Blooms with Measurements & Modeling

Taylor Bailey1 (student), Nick Tiner1, Lauren Ross1, Sean M.C. Smith2,3
1. University of Maine, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Orono, ME
2. University of Maine, School of Earth & Climate Sciences, Orono, ME
3. Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine, Orono, ME

Circulation and mixing are two of the most influential factors governing harmful algal bloom development and movement in coastal systems. Studies in estuaries have demonstrated that morphologic features such as headlands and changes in bathymetry can induce rotational circulation patterns that influence mixing. The present study aims to investigate the relations between coastal morphology, circulation, vertical mixing and harmful algal bloom cell abundance in a complex, semi-enclosed bay because these dynamics have implications for the ecological health of coastal estuaries. Measurements of horizontal current velocities, vertical mixing, salinity and temperature were collected along a 4,000 m transect during a semidiurnal tidal cycle in Frenchman Bay, Maine to investigate links between circulation and vertical mixing. Results suggest the formation of two adjacent counter rotating gyres on slack tides in the middle of the bay with direction of the gyres’ rotation reversing in response to the tide phase. We are able to simulate the hydrodynamic conditions with the gyre formation using a numerical model with a finite element computational approach using our measurements for validation. Surface collected samples of Pseudo-nitzschia (PN), a harmful algal bloom species linked to shellfish harvesting closures in the Frenchman Bay region, provide a basis to investigate the implications of the complex circulation patterns on biomass accumulation and distribution. Results suggest that local minima in PN counts are due to tidal advection, while local maxima are correlated with the presence of gyre circulation induced by the complex morphology of the bay.

20. The Impact of Conservation Land on Property Tax Rates: An Economic Analysis

Abigail Bennett1 (student), Jonathan Malacarne2, Adam Daigneault1
1. University of Maine School of Forest Resources, Orono, ME
2. University of Maine School of Economics, Orono, ME

In Maine and New England, growth in protected land over the last 30 yrs has sparked conversation about the economic outcomes of conservation. Much of this newly protected land is privately held and granted tax-exempt status. Many towns in Maine face challenging economic and budgetary conditions with aging populations and a global shift of economic growth to urban centers. Some believe that shifts of land into conservation may erode the tax base and place a greater burden on taxpayers. There is demand for rigorous, data-driven analysis on the economic impacts of land protection. Our research attempts to provide answers so that towns, planners, and conservation groups can make more informed decisions around land use.

To measure the relationship between changes in conservation and mill rate, we use econometric methods on annual data from 2002-2019. We look at nuanced effects of conservation allowing the relationship to change along dimensions such as town unemployment rate, density class, conservation type, holder type, etc.

On average, we found a very small but upward effect of conservation on mill rate, particularly three years after the land is protected. This translates to a $0.59 increase in a property tax bill of $4,200 for every 1% increase in conserved acres in the town. In our heterogenous models, we found that conservation in coastal regions had the greatest upward effect on mill rates compared to other regions. Additionally, municipally owned and fee-acquisition lands had the most striking upward impact on tax rates.

21. Paying for Coastal Water Quality: What turns the tide?

Benjamin Cotton (student), Caroline Noblet, Kathleen Bell
University of Maine, Orono, ME

Enhancing understanding of the willingness to pay for coastal water quality improvements strengthens the ability of federal, state, and local decision-makers to make informed decisions about diverse policies and projects in the coastal zone. While much of the literature has focused on willingness to contribute towards clean up of impaired waters, we focus on citizen preferences for preserving existing high quality coastal water quality in the Gulf of Maine.

The current work examines the role of perceived risk from changing coastal water, the impacts of choice architecture, perceived policy consequentiality, and responsibility for coastal water quality on willingness to pay. We use data collected over the summer of 2015 via mail survey distributed to coastal residents of Maine and New Hampshire (n= 1,176 ;response rate = 32.9%). Preliminary results show that respondents are willing to pay on average $4.49 per month to support a coastal water quality program. Roughly half of the respondents from each state supported the program (54% Maine, 50% New Hampshire). We find an increased willingness to pay if participants believed that their response would be taken into account by policy makers during decision making and if citizens felt coastal water quality was their responsibility. Our results will expand understanding of people’s preferences for improved coastal water quality and more broadly of general preferences for policies and projects affecting the coastal zone. Sensitivity of valuation responses to framing, context and consequentiality provide insight beyond the coastal zone for continued exploration of choice architecture.

22. Baseline Species Detection and Impact of Large Wood Addition Restoration Measured by eDNA in Maine Streams

Beth Davis1 (student), Andrew Rominger1 , Sarah Nelson2 , Carolyn Ziegra2 , Karina Ricker2,3
1. University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Appalachian Mountain Club, Boston, MA
3. Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS

Riparian habitats impacted by legacy clearing and other human activity may suffer loss of biodiversity and ecosystem health. In the 100-Mile Wilderness area of Maine, land managers are restoring stream and river connectivity in impacted systems and implementing large wood addition (LWA) projects in the West Branch Pleasant River in the Penobscot River Watershed. LWA is believed to increase hydrologic complexity and encourage return of biodiversity in impacted streams. However, small forested streams can be difficult to monitor effectively, and there are significant data gaps on the effectiveness of LWA. Using freshwater eDNA, we collected baseline species detection data for 29 stream reaches with no prior biodiversity records, including those targeted for 2022 or 2023 LWA and reaches with no plans for alteration. Collection involved developing field methods for remote sites and pairing select sites with Hobo data loggers for additional monitoring. Using metabarcoding targeting the 12S and COI subunit 1 loci, we aim to assess fish and invertebrate species presence and resample in 2023. This baseline biodiversity inventory will be critical for future monitoring of these streams to understand the impacts of LWA in the region and allow for greater confidence in restoration methods and possibilities to expand monitoring programs. eDNA sampling, with its low on-site time and energy cost, may enable expanded monitoring and eliminate the need for directly capturing organisms. However, we also experienced difficulties fulfilling eDNA’s higher post-analysis requirements for the remote sites, which may reduce the utility of this method for land managers.

23. Promoting Just and Adaptive Fisheries Governance: The Maine Shellfish Learning Network

Gabrielle Hillyer1(student), B Lauer2 (student), Anthony Sutton3, Bridie McGreavy2
1. University of Maine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Orono, ME
2. University of Maine Dept. of Communication and Journalism, Orono, ME
3. University of Maine Native American Programs, Orono, ME

Localized fisheries across the globe are facing complex issues driven by social and ecological shifts. These fisheries are demonstrating signs of decline caused by inabilities to adapt to social and ecological changes in ways that would sustain these fisheries into the future. In many cases, the inability to adapt is bolstered by the rigidity of antiquated colonial governance structures. While community efforts can lead to resilient and sustainable strategies to support fisheries, those solutions often remain localized without additional supportive structures that increase connectivity across geographic, institutional, and social boundaries. Learning networks have emerged as one strategy to support communication across institutions and cross-scale coordination in proximally distant geographies. The Maine Shellfish Learning Network (MSLN) was created to serve the wild clam and mussel fisheries in Maine. These fisheries offer a crucial case study for how localized fisheries are grappling with intersecting forces related to climate change, wealth inequalities, rural poverty, and colonialism. While conceiving and creating the MSLN, we made specific choices to support the disruption of institutionalized power structures and support emergent adaptive and anticipatory capacities. Over its four years of existence, the MSLN has had a major impact on these fisheries, including the development and adoption of adaptive policy. In this poster, we share insights from engaged research focused on the MSLN. This includes a brief review of our approach drawing from sustainability, communication, resilience, anticolonial sciences and descriptions of three MSLN-led research projects and their impact on the wild-clam and mussel fisheries.

24. Interpreting the extent and characteristics of microplastics pollution in Maine freshwater streams to guide a holistic mitigation strategy.

First Place: Grace Johnson
Graduate Poster Competition. First Place: Grace Johnson

Grace Johnson (student), Taylor Bailey (student), M. Dilara Hatinoglu (student), Sean Smith, Lauren Ross, Onur Apul
University of Maine, Orono, ME

The widespread occurrence of miniscule plastic fragments (i.e., microplastics) in natural waters around the world is an imminent and increasing threat to ecosystems and public health. In Maine, microplastic pollution is especially concerning because the state is one of the largest producers of fish and shellfish in the nation and seafood consumption could contribute to microplastic ingestion. The goals of this project are to develop a system for the detection, interpretation, and communication of microplastic pollution problems in Maine’s freshwater streams. The project is ongoing, but initial findings confirmed the presence of microplastics in Frenchman Bay, Maine, and quantified the extent of the pollution. This project is specifically looking at microplastics in the shape of a fiber. A sampling and analysis method was developed in order to minimize plastic contamination and was implemented in weekly sampling from July through October at eight sampling locations, three freshwater rivers and five saltwater locations. Samples were filtered using vacuum filtration, and then the number of suspected microplastic fibers were counted using a dissecting microscope. Control samples were implemented throughout to determine the amount of microplastic fibers produced by the lab environment. Through counting, an average of approximately two microplastics per liter of water were found. The majority of the microplastic fibers were either blue or black in color, with additional colors of purple, red, green, clear, and orange found. The next step in this project is to determine additional methods of confirming the fibers are made of plastic.

25. Modeling Methylmercury Contamination of Critical Habitat for the Penobscot River

Vanessa Mahan (student), Kimberly Huguenard
Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME

The Penobscot River was contaminated during the operation of a chloride-alkaline chemical manufacturing company known as HoltraChem Manufacturing, which operated from the 1980s-2000s near Orrington, Maine. The research project examines the methylmercury pollution of the Penobscot River in reference to the impact on Critical Habitat for diadromous fish species like Atlantic Salmon, Atlantic Sturgeon, Shortnose Sturgeon, and Sea-run fish species. The study involves evaluating and modeling the methylmercury pollution concentrations in sediment to identify areas of Critical Habitat that contain high levels of methylmercury contamination. This will be accomplished using a coupled sediment transport and stochastic modeling approach. A hydrodynamic model of the Penobscot River will be developed using Delft3D to predict movement of contaminated sediment in reference to tidal influences as well as a numerical model to predict the range and location of habitat that supports spawning and juvenile fish species. The goal of this project is to bring attention to contaminated habitats that could be adversely affecting the restoration and recovery of fish populations and identify areas that should be prioritized for environmental remediation.

26. Justice40 for ME: Quantifying Outdoor Access with GIS

Philip Mathieu (student), Philip Bogden
The Roux Institute at Northeastern University, Portland, ME

Recent state and federal initiatives have developed goals around equity to ensure that the benefits of climate-related investment are directed toward historically “disadvantaged.” communities. For example, the White House’s Justice40 initiative sets a goal that “40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” At the state level, the Maine Climate Council established an Equity Subcommittee to develop recommendations that “‘ensure shared benefits across diverse populations’, [and] propose tracking and monitoring to ensure ‘programs and benefits reach the intended populations and communities.’”

This research utilizes data from the White House’s Climate Equity and Justice Screening Tool and techniques of geospatial network analysis to quantify the accessibility of state parks and other public green spaces in Maine communities. It further explores the results across various cross-sections including demographics, economic indicators, and whether a community qualifies as disadvantaged for the purpose of Justice40. The results provide a detailed look at how outdoor access is distributed across Maine and could be used to guide future investment in public lands.

27. The effects of messaging framing on citizen support for the aquaculture industry

Alissa Miller-Gonzalez (student), Caroline Noblet, Laura Rickard
University of Maine, Orono, ME

Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic animals for consumption, is an industry that has one of the largest potentials for growth in the U.S. compared to other countries (Kapetsky et al., 2013). The aquaculture industry in Maine employs over 1,000 people and contributes over $130 million to the economy annually (Cole et. al., 2017). At a time when fisheries are facing pressures from both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, growth of the aquaculture industry has the potential to support both Maine’s economy and its residents (Fernandez et. al, 2020).

While others have studied consumer attitudes towards aquaculture seafood, little is known about how messages emphasizing the benefits of aquaculture expansion might influence citizens’ attitudes and behaviors. The purpose of this study is to advance our understanding of how using different message frames can influence peoples’ levels of support for the industry. We explore the effects of messages that provide information on promoting gains, averting losses, associating aquaculture with the status quo, and changing status quo frames on citizen support for aquaculture. Results show that averting loss and the change treatments positively affected support in both Maine and the U.S. while the promoting gains and status quo treatments positively affected support only in Maine. Further, perceived risk and benefit both mediate the relationship between message frame and support for aquaculture. These results may provide guidance to the aquaculture industry and the State of Maine regarding methods to communicate information about the industry to the public to increase support.

28. PFAS in wastewater sludge in Maine: Searching for answers to a wicked problem

Simin Moavenzadeh Ghaznavi1 (student), Dianne Kopec2, Onur Apul1
1. University of Maine, Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Orono, ME
2. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, ME

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are persistent anthropogenic chemicals that exhibit remarkable stability in the environment, with a persistence beyond their intended commercial use. Due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, conventional oxidation technologies and natural attenuation are ineffective for their degradation. In rural America, wastewater biosolids are significant sources of PFAS contamination. Because the common practice of land application of PFAS-laden biosolids on agricultural fields has led to the accumulation of PFAS in soils and crops. This poses cascading risks to ecological and human health as PFAS circulates in the environment. Prior to the implementation of regulations for PFAS contamination, these chemicals were widely used in agriculture.

This study reviews the modern practices that are employed for managing PFAS-contaminated wastewater biosolids, which include land application on agricultural fields and disposal in landfills and assesses emerging options for safe and sustainable solution to remove PFAS from waste streams. A sustainable approach to managing PFAS-laden wastewater biosolids is crucial to protect human health and the environment. Alternative strategies must be implemented to prevent further accumulation of PFAS in agricultural fields and the food supply. Thermal treatments, such as incineration and pyrolysis, are emerging as viable options for the removal of PFAS from contaminated biosolids. Studies have demonstrated their effectiveness, but further research is necessary to evaluate the environmental impact and cost-effectiveness. The adoption of emerging thermal treatments, coupled with stringent regulations, can ensure the safe and sustainable management of PFAS-containing wastewater sludge in rural America.

29. Multispectral analysis of a Sphagnum moss-dominant peatland to monitor hydrologic conditions

Victoria Niedzinski (student), Andrew Reeve
University of Maine School of Earth and Climate Sciences, Orono, ME

Peatlands are complex systems with significant controls on global carbon cycling as both carbon sinks and methane emitters. Globally, peatlands cover <3% of all land surfaces but contain one-third to one-half of all global soil carbon. Changes in land use and climate are often associated with drainage or drops in the water table in peatlands, which directly impact carbon sequestration, methane emissions, and vegetation productivity. Hydrologic processes have a significant influence on overall nutrient cycling throughout the peat basin and dictate the productivity of methane-producing microbes and anaerobic decomposition. Generally, a lower water table is linked with decreased levels of carbon sequestration and methane emissions as well as decreased vegetative productivity, particularly in Sphagnum moss but monitoring water table changes in peatland complexes over time is very field-intensive and often not feasible in more remote areas. Recent laboratory experiments found that during periods of water stress (i.e., lower water table) the spectral reflectance of Sphagnum moss increases in the visible, NIR, and SWIR wavelengths. This project expands on these results by using reflectance values obtained from satellite multispectral images of a Sphagnum moss-dominant peatland (Caribou Bog, Bangor, ME) over a year and correlates them to an ongoing groundwater modeling project for the same area. This correlation provides a low-cost method to remotely assess the hydrologic conditions of peatlands in hard-to-reach areas and can be further utilized as a proxy to estimate carbon cycling and methane emissions.

30. Transdisciplinary Collaboration and Partner Engagement in the Maine-eDNA Project

Jennifer Smith-Mayo1 (student), Bridie McGreavy1,2, Heather Leslie2,3
1. Department of Communication and Journalism, University of Maine, Orono, ME
2. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of Maine, Orono, ME
3. Darling Marine Center, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine, Walpole, ME

Transdisciplinarity is understood as shared knowledge production by researchers and other community members that connects with societal challenges. As engaged communication and team science researchers with the Maine-eDNA (environmental DNA) project, we study how communication shapes transdisciplinary collaboration. Our participatory research approach helps us learn about communication practices within Maine-eDNA, a multi-institutional project engaging with dozens of community, government, and private sector partners within and beyond Maine. Using an engaged and ethnographic research design, we developed a communication survey administered to project participants (n = 78, 68% response rate) in Fall 2021. This survey is one of multiple qualitative and quantitative methods we use to study and help shape communication practices. The survey instrument design was informed by semi-formal team science interviews (n=15) we conducted in Fall 2020 with Maine-eDNA participants and ongoing participant observations in the project. Our primary research question asks how specific communication elements shape our eDNA-focused transdisciplinary collaboration. In the analysis, we identified descriptive and inferential patterns that help us understand the diversity of ways in which communication shapes this team science collaboration. For example, participants identified diverse motivations that shape how they communicate across disciplines and with community partners. These communication-focused motivations include how participants enjoy learning from others (72% strong agreement), they are interested in ethical responsibilities of researchers (51% strong agreement), and that partners have on-the-ground knowledge (62% strong agreement). Focusing on communication and motivations matters because these articulations help constitute interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary capacities for engaging in knowledge co-production.

31. Stakeholder Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices: Parasite Risk Management for Small Ruminant Health

Rachel White¹ (student), Debra Kantor¹, Anne Lichtenwalner²
1. University of Maine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Orono, ME
2. University of Maine School of Food and Agriculture/Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Orono, ME

Combining local or traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge creates “two-eyed seeing,” where the research objective is viewed from both a cultural and scientific perspective; this integration can improve acceptance of recommendations, enhancing long-term sustainability. For this project, we integrated on-farm risk data, and local knowledge acquired from farmers and veterinarians to illustrate perceived risk of farmers’ losses due to parasites, especially Parelaphostrongylus tenuis (P. tenuis; meningeal worm), a parasite with a complex life cycle that can cause illness and mortality to aberrant hosts such as sheep, goats, camelids, horses, and cattle.

The stakeholders were interviewed using a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) framework, wherein changes in behavior and attitude toward parasites, animal health management, and zoonotic disease were analyzed. The six small ruminant producers who were interviewed were involved in a two-year study, including on-farm data collection to evaluate prevalence of, and risk factors for P. tenuis livestock exposure. Results and recommended control strategies for their respective farms were presented to each farmer prior to their interviews. Interview responses were also compared to our 2021 nation-wide survey on P.tenuis risk for livestock. Additionally, 4 veterinarians were interviewed about parasite control and the barriers involved in relaying their knowledge to producers. All farmers indicated a knowledge change, and most will incorporate suggested management strategies. Providing research results to participants changes knowledge, behavior, and management practices for risk-reduction evaluation, control, and treatment implementation.

32. Hydrodynamics & Biofouling on an Aquaculture Farm

Elisabeth Younce (student)
University of Maine, Orono, ME

The linkage between hydrodynamic patterns and rates of biofouling on lantern nets for scallop cultivation in Maine is not well understood. By a better understanding of how variations in current velocity and turbulence link to biofouling, farmers would be enabled to make informed equipment decisions to help optimize their net profit. This study characterizes the hydrodynamics along a scallop longline over multiple months, while quantifying and qualifying the biofouling rate along that same longline. Tidal cycle surveys (~12.4 hrs) were conducted during neap tides and measured lateral and longitudinal transects of current velocities in an around the farm using a towed Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP). Additionally, a second ADCP was moored near the farm, to obtain long term time series of a velocity profile. Changes in these two sets of measurements will be linked to varying biofouling rates to understand the two-way interaction of how biofouling modifies the flow field, and how the modified flow field may influence biofouling patterns along the farm. This analysis was conducted on an experiment farm at the Darling Marine Center in the Damariscotta River estuary in Maine. The biofouling time series created through this study will deepen understanding of how fast nets are fouled over time, and by what species. An overall goal of this study is easy replication, so that farmers could apply similar biofouling monitoring methods in their farms and refer to this study as an information reference to help make decisions.

33. Citizen Preferences for Addressing PFAS: Factors Affecting Willingness to Contribute

Honorable Mention: Charity Zimmerman
Graduate Poster Competition. Honorable Mention: Charity Zimmerman. Charity’s advisor, Caroline Noblet is on the left.

Charity Zimmerman (student), Caroline L. Noblet
University of Maine, School of Economics, Orono, ME

Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a novel environmental contaminant of particular importance in Maine. While there is a substantial body of literature investigating factors affecting citizen willingness to finance policies that address various environmental issues, the emerging PFAS threat has yet to be thoroughly investigated. In this research, we ask two key questions that investigate Mainers’ willingness to contribute towards programs that may fund PFAS prevention and mitigation: Is how we talk about sources of PFAS and how we ask for contributions important in making contribution choices? To investigate this, we designed and administered a mixed mode survey to a random sample of Mainers. To answer our first question participants were assigned one of two message frames about potential sources of PFAS (industrial or consumer) or a control condition. To answer our second question, the survey presented two potential mechanisms for citizen payment to PFAS mitigation efforts: an increase in annual property taxes or a sales tax on certain products that contain PFAS. Preliminary results suggest that 66% of respondents indicated a willingness to contribute towards a program to address PFAS in Maine. Our results indicate that how we talk about PFAS matters, as there were differential impacts on willingness to contribute dependent on the message treatment shown. However, the impact of payment mechanism may be limited and dependent upon respondent profiles. While it is evident that Maine citizens are willing to support programs addressing PFAS contamination, it is important to continue to improve our understanding of citizens’ evolving preferences.

Professional Posters

34. The Social Resilience Project: Building Resilience in Coastal Communities

Jeremy Bell1, Victoria Boundy2, Jessica Brunacini3, Annie Cox4, Kasey Cunningham5, Kristen Grant3, Elizabeth Hertz6, Ruth Indrick7, Eileen Johnson5, Samara Nassor5
1. The Nature Conservancy, Brunswick, ME
2. Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, Portland, ME
3. Maine Sea Grant, University of Maine, Orono, ME
4. Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wells, ME
5. Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
6. Blue Sky Planning Solutions, Augusta, ME
7. Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, Bath, ME

The Social Resilience project piloted the use of a scenario planning exercise to increase community resilience in eight neighboring southern midcoast Maine communities. Through conversations around a coastal storm scenario, the exercise sought to increase connections and collaborations that would strengthen and grow the social infrastructure of the project region.

The project was led by a team of federal, state, NGO, academic and consulting organizations, engaged regional stakeholders from conservation, social service, emergency management, and municipal sectors, and was guided by an advisory committee of leaders from the four sectors. An asset inventory was conducted to identify organizations key to planning for, responding to, and recovering from coastal hazards. Participants completed pre- and post- exercise surveys to assess the impact of the scenario exercise and a story map guided breakout groups through the scenario. The virtual scenario planning exercise engaged more than 60 participants. We coded transcripts of discussions for themes and conducted a social network analysis.

The pre and post survey indicated an increase in participants’ awareness of the impacts of storm events on vulnerable populations. Participants also indicated and described the importance of partnerships across sectors to meet the needs of socially vulnerable populations. An analysis of meeting recordings and surveys led to the development of 10 recommendations. In a post-event meeting, participants prioritized the development of a plan for communication as the most important next step. The findings contribute to an understanding of the role of social infrastructure in addressing vulnerable populations impacted by coastal hazards.

35. Restoration in Schoppee Marsh: Balancing Costs and Benefits

Matthew Bernier1, Mike Burke2, Charlie Foster3, Jeremy Gabrielson4, Arden Herrin5, Helena Tatgenhorst6, Kirstin Underwood3, Jacob van deSande4, Nils Wiberg7
1. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
2. InterFluve
3. Downeast Salmon Federation
4. Maine Coast Heritage Trust
5. Woods Hole Group
6. The Nature Conservancy
7. Fuss & O’Neill

Schoppee Marsh is a 110-acre saltmarsh along the Machias River in Machias, Maine, Washington County. The marsh is bordered by the Downeast Sunrise Trail, a popular multi-use recreational trail that brings visitors and economic activity to the region. Marsh health has been compromised by surface modifications from past agricultural use and restriction of tidal flow by the trail embankment. This study assessed current marsh conditions and evaluated the costs and benefits of different restoration alternatives that would repair marsh health, alleviate tidal restrictions, enhance buffering of coastal storms, improve the resiliency of the Sunrise Trail, and address existing risks to infrastructure. Tidal hydrology was monitored at 6 locations with Onset Hobo U20 pressure transducers. RTK topographic and bathymetric survey data were used to supplement LiDAR and develop a composite ground terrain model, which was combined with tidal datums to assess potential inundation patterns under current and future sea level rise scenarios. A 2-D HEC-RAS model was used to simulate optimal crossing size to restore tidal flow. Although questions remain about the degree of proactive measures required to counteract marsh subsidence, the alternative that best balanced costs and benefits was the replacement of a highly restrictive 3-ft diameter crossing at the trail embankment with a 50-ft average-span bridge. Other alternatives are still under consideration, and conversations with stakeholders are ongoing to determine next steps to restore Schoppee Marsh. This study is an early example of an application of the CoastWise tidal crossing design guidelines.

36. Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project

Mikaela Heming1, Alyson Eberhardt1, Kirsten Howard2
1. New Hampshire Sea Grant and University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Lee, NH
2. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program, Concord, NH

The New Hampshire Seacoast has a lot of diversity. Diverse people, diverse habitats, diverse species, and diverse causes of flooding. It can be challenging to deal with such a range of hazards while trying to reach and protect these human and natural systems and ensuring they can thrive long into the future. The Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project (FRN) seeks to bring residents together to increase their neighborhood’s ability to prepare for and respond to worsening coastal and stormwater flooding and erosion. FRN staff will support up to six New Hampshire Seacoast neighborhoods of various socioeconomic and flood risks as they share concerns and priorities for their neighborhood. This pilot project brings neighbors and FRN staff together to collaboratively identify strategies for making neighborhoods more resilient to flooding while protecting the natural resources that support and safeguard both human and natural systems. The neighborhood-scale allows for solutions which can’t be provided by parcel-level work alone and is only achieved with local nuance which community-level work is often unable to provide. FRN is flexible – it is intended to meet neighbors where they are and support them and their neighborhood priorities. This research project is ongoing; the poster will discuss how neighborhoods were chosen, what neighborhoods will receive from their participation in the Flood Ready Neighborhoods Project, and what is planned for the overall process.

37. The Town of Orono’s Multitiered Approach to Lowering Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Megan Hess
Town of Orono, Orono, ME

The Town of Orono is committed to prioritizing community climate resilience and enacting climate action projects. The Town enrolled in the State of Maine’s Community Resilience Partnership and adopted a resolution of commitment to help decrease greenhouse gas emissions in alignment with the statewide goals in the Maine Won’t Wait climate action plan (45% reduction by 2030). In March 2022, the Town received a Community Action Grant that allowed them to begin a multi-tiered approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: 1) at the regional level by participating in a baseline study that conducted a greenhouse gas emission inventory and a climate vulnerability assessment of the communities that are members of the Bangor Area Comprehensive Transportation System metropolitan planning organization, 2) at a municipal level by conducting a baseline energy audit of the Town’s municipal buildings, and 3) at a community level by hosting an energy efficiency educational fair that was free to the public. The Greater Bangor region greenhouse gas emissions inventory indicated that 56% percent of emissions came from residential and commercial buildings and 33% of emissions were from on-road transportation. The municipal building energy audit ranked select Town buildings from least to most efficient and provided suggestions for improvement. The Orono Energy Efficiency Fair provided free educational presentations to attendees throughout the day and brought various local contractors and businesses to one location so residents could discuss energy saving projects with industry experts. In conclusion, the Town has taken action at multiple levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

38. Ice Cover trends in Maine for 71 years: Lake Auburn

Lloyd C. Irland
The Irland Group, Wayne, ME

An unusually warm winter of 2023 emphasizes the role of extreme weather events in the seasonal ice regime of Maine lakes. Ice cover regimes matter for safety of lake users, for subtle effects on ecosystems, and even for water treatment costs where municipal supplies are involved. Only one Maine lake has a continuous record of ice-in, and ice – out dates that permits measuring the changing ice cover. Together with observations on weather, this information enables rich exploration of longterm trends and relationships. This talk will present results of this exploration. From the 50’s to the 2010’s, ice free days on the lake increased by 22 days — a substantial change in just 71 seasons. Variability of ice cover has also increased. These results are from a larger project examining 22 lakes from Maine to Minnesota.

39. Exploring How a Well-Structured Community Science Program Can Support Municipal Resilience and Activate Community Engagement as Maine Faces the Threat of Sea Level Rise

Abigail Long
The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland, ME

Sea level rise is increasing the frequency of coastal flooding in Maine, forcing communities to respond and adapt to increase their coastal resilience, or capacity to recover from flood impacts. To build resilience, communities must be made aware of and educated about the threats their community is facing. Community science can assist in educating communities and increasing their awareness. Community, or citizen science, is collaborative, community-based research that captures, analyzes and shares information to assist in answering research questions. The Coastal Flooding Community Science project seeks to answer the question, “what water level and weather conditions are associated with coastal flooding in our community?”. The project supports the collection of observational data and public perspectives on flooding to understand the current impacts of flooding from high tides and storms. Data is collected at community-identified coastal flood monitoring sites that include critical infrastructure, ecosystems or sites of community value that are vulnerable to flooding. Collecting localized flood data at these sites can lead to an accurate understanding of flood thresholds and therefore assist in municipal planning and understanding when to send flood alerts and deploy emergency responses. Participation in this project also builds community literacy around climate vulnerabilities. As an ongoing project, it is constantly evolving to meet the needs of communities and participants and reflect the most current science. As sea levels are rising, we need to understand how to live with water. This project builds that understanding and gives insight into the future if we do not take action.

40. A Case Study of Boat Wake Waves vs Wind Wave Impact on Alum Treatment of East Pond

Alejandra C. Ortiz1, Alison W. Bates2, Danielle J. Wain3
1. Department of Geology, Colby College, Waterville, ME
2. Department of Environmental Studies, Colby College, Waterville, ME
3. 7 Lakes Alliance, Belgrade Lakes, ME

Recreational use of Maine lakes exceeds 12 million user days with almost ⅔ of residents enjoying our lakes; but repeated algal blooms decrease water quality and have socio-economic impacts. Alum treatments are an expensive but potentially effective treatment for decreasing algal blooms, however, the long-term efficacy of alum treatments in larger lakes is unknown. User perceptions of alum treatment as a water quality management solution are unknown, limiting the ability of lake managers to recommend this solution. Our research is focused on understanding the role of waves on alum efficacy in East Pond, the site of the largest alum treatment in New England. We are interested in understanding the relative impact of natural (wind-created) waves compared to human generated waves (boat wakes) on driving sediment resuspension or burial of the alum. We measured the wave heights and bed velocities under different boat wake conditions. To investigate the role of wind-driven waves, we use the hydrodynamic model Delft3D to simulate the year-long impact of the mean wind climate on sediment transport, resuspension, and burial of the alum. Even under the largest boat wakes (wakeboarding), there are minimal velocities (<5 cm/s) at the bed in either depths (4 of 7 m) but wave heights do reach up to 30 cm in deeper waters. We apply this research to the user experience by surveying lake users and shoreline owners about their attitudes towards water quality treatment and also towards management actions to minimize the impact of recreational boating on alum treated lakes

41. Tracking Seasonal Blooms in a Eutrophic Lake in Maine, USA

Abigail Quinn1, Emily Arsenault1, Bethel Steele2, Mingi Jeong3, Hannah Braslau1, Sarah Bussell1, Kami Lambert1, Dylan Larose1, Evan Ma1, Joseph Vann1, Amelia Wallis1, Yilun Wu1, Monika Roznere3, Kizito Masaba3, Alberto Quattrini Li3, Holly Ewing1
1. Bates College, Lewiston, ME
2. Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY
3. Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH

Harmful cyanobacterial blooms (HCBs) have become a regular feature of lakes in the southern and midwestern agricultural areas of North America, but they are relatively less common in the largely forested northern parts of North America. Sabattus Pond in Maine, USA is an exception, drawing attention as a eutrophic lake with some of the poorest water quality in the state. Sabattus Pond experiences repeated blooms of varying intensity and composition within a season, allowing multiple opportunities to investigate the factors that might lead to HCBs. We investigated the roles of inlet location and basin morphometry in the development and maintenance of blooms using weekly discrete spot sampling, a stationary monitoring buoy, an Autonomous Surface Vehicle (ASV), and a mobile system that integrated position and water quality information. Repeated traverses revealed that a shallow section near the largest inflow behaved differently from the rest of the lake. Weather events directly affected this area, leading to variable outcomes. The inflow both contributed phytoplankton to the lake and at other times, the inflow appeared to improve water clarity. Additionally, because Sabattus Pond is so shallow (5.5 m maximum depth), it regularly experiences mixing events after periods of high wind, which can alter surface bloom intensity (e.g., resetting Secchi readings from <1 m to 2 m) and raise bottom oxygen. Through complementary methods that together revealed both spatial and temporal information about blooms, we were able to capture the dynamic nature of the transitions in water quality in Sabattus Pond.

42. Natural Hazard Mitigation Planning in Maine

Samuel G. Roy
Maine Emergency Management Agency, Augusta, ME
Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions, UMaine, Orono, ME

Practices and benefits of hazard mitigation planning and funding in Maine are overviewed in this poster presentation. The U.S. sustains on average more than $51 billion in losses and 361 deaths per year from weather and climate hazards. In Maine, these hazards primarily include flooding, coastal storm surge, tropical storms, and severe winter weather, and the occurrence of all hazards have been on the rise for decades. Hazard mitigation, or any sustained effort to reduce/eliminate long-term natural hazard risks, is a crucial concept for reducing community vulnerability before hazardous events even occur. A recent FEMA benefit-cost report indicates that natural hazard mitigation provides the nation with $6 in benefit for every $1 invested, in addition to avoided loss of lives and disaster response efforts. A strong commitment to community and multi-agency partnership is important to communicate, plan, fund, and implement these mitigation actions.

43. An Initiative to Restore Funding to Section 314 of the Clean Lakes Program

Danielle Wain
7 Lakes Alliance, Belgrade Lakes, ME

Section 314 of the US Clean Water Act has not been funded by congress for the last 25 years, while it can help address the nation’s lakes in crisis now. It had a mechanism to fund basic lake trend and status monitoring, which allows scientists to detect changes in lakes early when smaller interventions can result in more favorable outcomes.  It funded Phase I diagnostic studies on lakes where trends or status were not meeting standards. It also funded interventions that were based on findings from the diagnostic studies.  Finally, it funded follow up monitoring to determine if the intervention succeeded.  Today, elected officials are under growing pressure to take action about the deteriorating lake water quality on highly valued lakes while environmental justice issues surrounding polluted urban lakes remain. Spending taxpayer money to fund interventions in lakes without sufficient monitoring or adequate diagnostic studies does not make sense. Few of these interventions have sufficient follow up monitoring to determine if they can be used as a model for other lake systems.  As of 2017, only 11% of the nation’s lakes remain oligotrophic, but nearly half of our nation’s lakes are in poor condition due to elevated nutrient concentrations, leading to increased algal blooms, some of which produce algal toxins.  There is also a real need to protect and preserve high quality waters where they do exist.   It is time to resurrect the 314 funding and tailor it to the needs of the nation’s lakes in 2023 and beyond.

44. Baseline Water Quality Study for Taunton Bay

Mark Whiting1, David Stevens2
1. Hancock County Soil & Water Conservation District, Ellsworth, ME
2. Friends of Taunton Bay, Hancock, ME

The Friends of Taunton Bay and the Hancock County Soil and Water Conservation District partnered to do a baseline water quality study of Taunton Bay. Funding was provided by Maine Sea Grant, Maine Community Foundation and the Dorr Foundation. This poster reports the results from the first year of a 2-year study. Water quality was good overall, but with some moderate turbidity. A trace metal analysis shows no obvious enrichment of bay water from c. 1900 silver mines. Phytoplankton counts show some seasonal enrichment with red tide organisms (Pseudonitzschia spp) but DMR reports no toxins over actionable thresholds. Next year we plan to look at PFAS and microplastics with the help of the Shaw institute (Blue Hill).