Road to Solutions — Urbanization & Infrastructure
The Mitchell Center’s Materials Management team has brought together a diverse group of waste management stakeholders to collaboratively imagine how the state might make more progress toward its waste reduction and recycling goals, with the single most important issue for ensuring a more sustainable system being the reduction of food waste and getting organics out of the landfill.
The Landowner Networking Project: Supporting community-based vernal pool conservation on private land
Private lands provide many public goods (e.g., habitat for wildlife, water conservation, educational, aesthetic, or recreational value), but perceived value to private landowners may be less clear. Achieving conservation goals on private lands thus requires a broader choice of conservation tools and approaches that address the needs and priorities of all landowners. The Maine Vernal Pool Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) was devised to meet this need.
Maine’s communities and economy are critically dependent on the safety of its road network, which is in turn dependent on tens of thousands of culverts that allow water to flow under roads. Unfortunately, many of these culverts are at risk of failure, either due to their degrading condition or because they are undersized for the increasingly large floods and bank erosion caused by climate change and urban development.
This project builds and expands on the 2018 Food Waste Reduction project which was focused on food loss, food waste, and barriers to establishing a circular food system and environmental sustainability while addressing food insecurity. This project will expand on the earlier project to include: a) University of Maine System (UMS) students’ active engagement in an interdisciplinary undergraduate collaborative team led by undergraduate students who participated in the Food Waste Reduction project; and b) UMS students’ participating in all phases of research.
Reuse Markets as a Means to Advance Environmental, Social and Economic Public Policy (Materials Management)
In an era of non-renewable resource depletion and growing waste streams, environmentalists and industrialists alike are advocating for the development of more circular economic systems that can reduce resource pressure, waste, and inefficiencies by keeping existing materials in economic circulation longer. In response, many communities have already implemented programs designed to encourage a new “culture” of reuse.
The Emergent Risks of Food Waste Recovery: Characterizing the Contaminants in Municipal Solid Waste (Materials Management)
To approach a more sustainable food system in the United States, our system must become more energy, water and material-efficient. The ideal model is a circular food system that eliminates waste by returning nutrients to agricultural soils while minimizing water and energy use. As we move towards organic waste recovery and nutrient recycling, we must plan for emerging risks that may compromise the safety of a more circular food system.
Resource stewardship in parks and natural areas encompasses promoting both healthy ecosystems and healthy visitors. In Acadia National Park (ANP), millions of tourists and outdoor enthusiasts per year are at risk of exposure to a suite of pathogens transmitted by hard-bodied ticks.
Maine has many natural resources, but with approximately 90 percent of its land forested, it is a large contributor of ecosystem services—benefits that humans derive from nature—to the state, and most of the state’s communities rely on one or more ecosystem services to support their local economies.
Materials Management is a term that attempts to capture the overall life cycle of materials from raw materials, to products, to end disposal. It combines all aspects of solid waste with all forms of diversion to establish a systems approach to this complex topic. Solid Waste is a significant sustainability challenge in Maine…
Atlantic salmon populations in Maine have declined over previous decades and remain critically low. Despite extensive hatchery supplementation and habitat improvement efforts made by management agencies over the last four decades, there has been no clear population response and extinction of the species remains an immediate threat.
Future of Dams (New England Sustainability Consortium)
This four-year study examines the future of dams in New England and marks an expansion in partners and scope for the New England Sustainability Consortium (NEST), an innovative collaboration focused on increasing the safety of coastal beaches and shellfish beds that are threatened by bacterial pollution and other microbial pathogens.
Many Maine communities are facing the same dilemma: how to maintain economic viability without compromising the ecological integrity of natural resources that attract people to Maine. This SSI research team is using local vernal pool conservation as a model to help communities find ways to balance economic development with natural resource conservation on private land…
Sebago Lake is many things to many people: drinking water for about 200,000 Greater Portland residents, a place to play and a source of hydropower. This research team is working to create team new tools to aid in planning and policy decisions to help safeguard Sebago’s future…
Sustainable Urban Regions Project (SURP)
Maine’s expanding urban regions have brought growth in jobs and housing and created areas rated among the most livable in the U.S. This growth, however, has come at a cost, including rising energy use, habitat loss, and many other problems associated with sprawl…
People, Landscape and Communities (PLACE)
More than a third of Maine—nearly six million acres—is owned by small landowners in parcels of 1 to 1,000 acres. Their decisions about managing their land affect not only their own welfare; they collectively influence Maine’s communities, broader landscape, and quality and sense of place…
Mapping a Sustainable Future
Major forces are altering Maine’s communities and landscape. Over the past 15 years, development pressure has intensified in the southern part of the state, and millions of acres of forest have changed hands in the north…