A Maine Public Broadcasting Network report titled “Bill to protect Maine lakes sparks disagreement,” cited information from former University of Maine graduate student Ian McCullough’s study on water clarity in Maine lakes. The study found the clarity in Maine’s lakes has declined since 1995.
Archive for the ‘Research’ Category
Marc Cryer, director of the University of Maine’s Bureau of Labor Education, was quoted in a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting article titled “Tax ‘game’ allows some towns to protect their state at expense of other towns.” The report states every year the state shares money it collects in taxes with Maine’s schools and municipalities. The state determines which communities get how much by a formula that includes the size of the town and the total value of its real estate. According to the article, an exception that lets some richer municipalities and school districts look poorer to get more money is tax increment financing, or TIF. Cryer said he’s not aware of any data that shows TIFs improve local economies or increase jobs in Maine. The article also cited a 2000 report by the state’s Economic Development Incentive Commission that quoted UMaine economist Todd Gabe who found “there is not a statistically significant relationship between employment growth and an establishment’s participation in the TIF program, all other things being equal.” The Bangor Daily News and Portland Press Herald also carried the report.
The Penobscot Bay Pilot reported on a handheld device developed by University of Maine researchers to quickly detect disease-causing and toxin-producing pathogens such as algal species that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. The device — called a colorimeter — could be instrumental in monitoring coastal water in real-time, thereby preventing human deaths and beach closures. Janice Duy, a recent graduate of UMaine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering led the research team that included UMaine professors Rosemary Smith, Scott Collins and Laurie Connell.
University of Maine researchers are studying the most efficient way to commercially thin regenerating clearcuts from the spruce budworm outbreak of the 1980s that are starting to reach profitable size throughout northern Maine. With no consensus among foresters and those in the logging industry about how best to thin stands, the researchers are investigating commercial thinning treatments that are silviculturally effective.
Jeffrey Benjamin, associate professor of forest operations, and Robert Seymour, the Curtis Hutchins Professor of Forest Resources, teamed with Emily Meacham, now with American Forest Management, and Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the Harris Center for Conservation Education, to compare thinning methods.
In the team’s recent study, they compared two whole-tree and two cut-to-length systems in terms of residual stem damage, retention of downed woody material, product utilization and production cost. While initial results were mixed in terms of residual stand damage, more than four times more biomass was produced from the whole-tree operations. The study also found commercially available equipment can conduct these treatments with skilled operators, but at a high production cost. The best system silviculturally was also the most expensive.
The researchers say efforts to develop cost-efficient harvesting machines to treat the stands should continue. No matter what technological advances are made, logging contractors carry the biggest responsibility for success because they need to balance residual stem damage and crop tree selection with production costs, according to the researchers.
Details of the study were published in the December 2013 issue of the Society of American Foresters’ Northern Journal of Applied Forestry.
WVII (Channel 7) spoke with Laurie Connell, a research professor in the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences, about a handheld device she helped develop to quickly detect disease-causing and toxin-producing pathogens such as algal species that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning. Connell said the device — called a colorimeter — could be used by government agencies for water sampling. The device could be instrumental in monitoring coastal water in real-time, thereby preventing human deaths and beach closures. Phys.org also carried a report about the device.
NECN spoke with George Jacobson, Maine’s state climatologist and professor emeritus of biology, ecology and climate change at the University of Maine, about environmental and species changes seen in Maine. The report states scientists at UMaine’s Climate Change Institute say weather is different from climate and evidence points to a warming planet. Jacobson said the news “isn’t all good, it isn’t all bad; it’s change.” He added it’s important for researchers to work together to prepare for predicted trends.
The Associated Press, Penobscot Times and Phys.org reported on research being conducted by Jenny Shrum, a Ph.D. candidate in the ecology and environmental sciences graduate program in the University of Maine School of Biology and Ecology. Shrum is researching the biophysical relationships between weather and sap flow. Her goal is to better understand what drives flow and how expected trends in climate may affect the processes and harvesters in the future. Boston Herald, WLBZ (Channel 2), Boston.com, Portland Press Herald, Daily Journal, SFGate, Journal Tribune, seattlepi.com and The Telegraph carried the AP report.
Spencer Meyer, associate scientist for forest stewardship at the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests at the University of Maine, and Rob Lilieholm, an associate professor of forest policy in the School of Forest Resources at UMaine were interviewed for a Portland Press Herald article about how two Maine groups are being paid to manage their forests for carbon dioxide reduction that will offset pollution by industry. Meyer said the arrangements are “offsetting a global process” and are “laying the groundwork for others down the road.” Lilieholm said although the forest carbon offset projects are just beginning in Maine, the state could eventually find them financially attractive. He estimates widespread use of trees-for-carbon-dioxide compensation is probably five to 10 years off.
WVII (Channel 7) interviewed University of Maine mechanical engineering technology students who are working on a log hauler restoration as part of their capstone experience. The steam log hauler, located at Leonard’s Mills in Bradley, has been put together entirely by students. The Lombard Log Hauler Restoration Project is in its 30th year, and the current students hope to have the log hauler running on steam this spring.
A 2010 University of Maine study was cited in a Portland Press Herald article about how a growing concern about the water quality of Maine’s lakes has led the state to recommend towns wet roads before a storm with a brine solution to lessen the environmental damage caused by spreading salt and sand. Even though experts say the solution is safer and more effective, many towns and plowing contractors have been resistant to the change, the article states. The UMaine study found Maine spreads about a billion pounds of salt on its roads every year, and much of the salt ends up in water supplies which can harm wildlife.