A Letter From the Editor

To residents of Maine and broader communities,

It is my immense pleasure to introduce the inaugural issue of Spire: The Maine Journal of Conservation and Sustainability.

As an environmental journal created both in and for Maine, Spire is the first of its kind. The aim of this online publication is to broaden visibility around environmental concerns by showcasing work across the disciplines, helping to put Maine “on the map” as it leads efforts toward sustainable practices and the conservation of habitat and wildlife.

Spire is run by a team of graduate students at the University of Maine, with involvement from faculty members and a distinguished Advisory Board. Much like our authors, the students who make up Spire’s Editorial Team hail from a wide range of academic fields, uniting their various backgrounds and skillsets in a shared undertaking that welcomes diverse voices.

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Artwork by Colby Fogg – See more

Are They Weeds or a Life Force?  Or Sustainability on the Edge

Frank Drummond, Elissa Ballman, and Judith Collins

Abstract: In 2014 and 2015 we surveyed 28 wild blueberry fields in Hancock, Knox, Waldo, and Washington Counties, Maine. We assessed and recorded the diversity, richness, and total abundance of flowering wildflowers along field edges. We also measured the foraging density of the bee community in these fields during bloom. Wildflowers are often considered weeds by blueberry growers. Wildflower taxa richness was quite high in many of the wild blueberry fields, mean of 11 taxa / field. We found that wildflower or weed density increased through the season both years and that wildflower taxa richness was significantly greater along field edges compared to the field interior. Wildflower richness was correlated with wildflower taxa diversity… Continue Reading

Drawing, Island, Two Loons, 1878

The Broken Bird? The Mystery of Loon Etymology

Sarah Harlan-Haughey

“There’s a large bird lying on the beach with its legs broken—what can I do?”

Wildlife helpline call centers in Florida routinely respond to this kind of call—the concerned caller has often encountered a stranded Common Loon, or Gavia Immer. The loon has very heavy bones—they haven’t the airy mesh of trussed marrow common to most other flying birds. Their bones are solid straight through, like those of the cormorant and penguin—likewise thick, oily, diving birds… Continue Reading

What We Should be Learning from Syria: Climate, Planning and Worst Case Scenarios

Kimberley Rain Miner

In the last few years, scholars1 have discussed the compounding effect of climate stressors and political unrest in Arab nations leading up to the Arab Spring uprisings.2 They have highlighted the environmental changes that led up to the regime changes… Continue Reading

Photography by Amanda Moline – See more

Eden & Ruin: Monhegan’s Island Shepherd

Taylor Cunningham

Understanding a local celebrity like Ray Phillips is a daunting task. After a considerable amount of time investigating his story and writing about it, I still feel myself working clumsily with the details of his life. Central to my uneasiness is an ever-present, irksome sense of insurmountable distance. Ray’s daily horizon must have been very different from my own. I approach Ray Phillips far removed from the time and place of his circumstances. I was born nearly forty years after he died. I have lived in Maine for four years… Continue Reading

Disposal of Medical Wastes from Infectious Hospitalized Patients: A Mandate for Re-Examining Current Practices

Deborah Saber

Current disposal processes were implemented in the 1980s when the focus was on preventing contagion from human blood and blood contaminated products. Medical solid waste challenges have evolved over the last three decades, and now include a need to… Continue Reading

Artwork by Colby Fogg – See more

What’s next for Maine’s forests? Mill Town and Statewide Community Perspectives on the Value, Management, and Future of Maine Forests

Julia B. McGuire, Jessica E. Leahy,  Mindy S. Crandall,  James A. Marciano, Robert J. Lilieholm

At near 90% forest cover, Maine is one of the most forested states in the U.S. (McCaskill et al. 2011). This plentiful natural resource and the forest products industry that capitalizes on those resources have been integral to the economic and social identity of Maine for centuries (Judd 2007). However, Maine’s forests and the people and industries that rely upon them are undergoing rapid change (Ohm 2016). These changes are a result of myriad causes and have different effects across the state… Continue Reading