Author: smcadmin

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Addressing the climate crisis requires each of us stepping up. Here are some events that will help you along the way.

Events

Click here for upcoming schedule of events

Click here for a Flyer of the 2023 series event schedule

A Climate to Thrive

Click here for Ongoing Events

Addressing the climate crisis requires each of us stepping into the place where our passions and resources intersect with solutions. Community-driven, local climate action is most successful when cultivated and supported by and for the community in which that action is rooted. Recognizing both of these central elements of successful climate action, ACTT prioritizes community gathering around to foster conversations about climate change, support each other in the many accompanying feelings, and come together around the development and implementation of solutions as we collectively envision and then work to create a better future.

 

Your support truly matters. Thank you.

We are grateful for the encouragement and strength we receive from so many who help us advance our mission. Your input, participation and support is and will continue to be vital to our work. We encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities we provide as we push forward with our vision in 2023. We share our successes with you, our supporters, friends, partners and colleagues. We welcome newcomers with open arms to join us, as we continue to learn, share, and come together to help shape a better future for people and nature.

Click here to scroll through our Year End Recap

  • Setting the stage for future trailblazers.
  • Tackling issues at the root.
  • Leading conversations on Maine’s changing climate.
  • Supporting our communities to build climate resilience.
  • Initiating innovative mechanisms to support land conservation especially in underserved communities.

PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING. Your support is very much appreciated! By making even a small donation today, you play an important role in building our collective momentum to create effective change needed to protect and transform our communities for the benefit of all. Thank you!

 

OUTLOOK with Madison Sheppard

OUTLOOK: 5 Minutes: Youth Speak on the Climate Crisis by Madison Sheppard

In this 5 minute video presentation, Madison Sheppard, Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative & MEEA Summer Associate, opens the floor to Maine youth perspectives and experiences with climate activism and grassroots work. From young people’s point of view, we answer the important question, “Why is it important for youth to be part of the climate movement?”

 

 

OUTLOOK with Chas Van Damme

OUTLOOK REFLECTIONS by Chas Van Damme.

Chas Van Damme, SMCC/MEEA Summer Associate

As I ease into the final week of my internship with Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative and Maine Environmental Education Association, I can’t help but reflect on the wealth of experiences I’ve gained while surrounded by such welcoming, caring, and encouraging folks. If you’ve been reading, you may already know that a major part of my time with SMCC has been the growth and development of our OUTLOOK story series. The project explores variables that shape and influence individuals’ relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems. Through this experience, I was fortunate enough to spend hours with several folks, each with their own unique relationships with climate change, but all invariably affected by its ever-growing impacts. To illustrate these differences and similarities, as well as to bring some closure to my time here, I figured it might be fun to incorporate a couple of my interviewees perspectives into one post. Enjoy 🙂

Natalie Meenan

For Natalie Meenan, climate change manifests as an everyday lived reality that she’s reminded of through her time in the natural world. As someone who grew up leading kayaking tours on the San Juan Islands in Washington, and is most recently involved in on-the-ground beach surveying with the Maine Geological Survey, she’s almost always outdoors. It’s her tangible contact with things like beach erosion, sea level rise, and encroaching invasive species that characterize her associations with climate change as something visible and unwaveringly present. For her, this may stir up an “existential dread of what else climate change has in store for the world,” but it also serves as an ever-present driver in her environmental work, and the motivational building block to play her role in fighting climate change. 

Margaret Gerber

Margaret Gerber, the seasoned Director of Stewardship at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, shares a very similar relationship to climate change as Natalie. She noted the importance of having face-to-face contact with the beauty of the natural world, as well as exposure to how climate change is shifting the development and inner workings of our environments. When she was fortunate enough to visit ice sheets in Greenland as a college student, she developed a “powerfully visceral connection” to natural spaces, a feeling noticeably akin to Natalie’s. Yet she maintains her own unique approach to tackling climate change through the land trust model, working to protect land in perpetuity to provide recreational and educational opportunities for anyone to learn about climate change.

Bill Stauffer

When speaking with Bill Stauffer, Vice President of the Oceanside Conservation Trust of Casco Bay, it was clear that his connection to climate change was deeply personal. Living year-round on an island, he is surrounded by the impacts of sea level rise, erosion, and increased storm events. As he noted in our interview, “We have witnessed intensified storm surges that erode the banks more every year.” His work with OCT thus also becomes rather personal, where he emphasizes the importance of preserving island properties for future generations of wildlife, as well as for their unique importance to climate change research.

Madeline Tripp, Environmental Resilience Fellow with the Greater Portland Council of Governments, is on the other end of the research that Bill wishes to facilitate. As the developer of the Community Intertidal Data Portal, Madeline committed herself to pooling research data, particularly shellfish data from the intertidal zone, into formats that are more easily accessible to everyday users. It’s through this work that Madeline plays her own role in confronting climate change. She mentioned in our talk that tackling climate change must be rooted in collaborative processes, “We need to stress the importance of sharing information and resources between Maine communities.” 

Maranda Nemeth

My final interviewee, Maranda Nemeth, similarly noted the importance of organizational cooperation as a key factor in the fight against climate change. Her work as the Project Manager overseeing the removal of Walton’s Mill Dam with the Atlantic Salmon Federation depends enormously on the contributions of the project’s partners. Removing a 300 foot dam to open up nearly 53 miles of habitat to the endangered Atlantic salmon can’t be done alone! She also shed light on the significance of rewilding what were once manufactured spaces in our path to fight climate change. The dam removal project is a perfect example, and one she understandably prides herself in being a part of.

My hope is that my conversation takeaways above highlight the interesting dynamics at play with climate change. We are all affected by it, and may share similar ways of tackling or confronting environmental hazards, but as a consequence of our backgrounds, interests, and professions we may process and feel the impacts of climate change very differently. We may react differently. And we may think differently. Yet, threaded into all of my conversations was the undergirding motivation to act together.

This story series resurfaced some of my own feelings of hope for the future by providing glimpses into the lives of people working extremely hard to protect the world around them. I’ve learned that there is value in providing spaces for people to share their perspectives. Even if it may be through a small story series like OUTLOOK, these spaces foster safe environments for people to teach, motivate, and learn. As a young person, I am fully aware that other young folks may not always have these opportunities for their voices to be amplified, making pieces of this project that much more meaningful to me. Similar to the development of Madeline Tripp’s Community Intertidal Data Portal, I hope to see the OUTLOOK series grow larger into a repository of change-making ideas to be shared and scaled across communities. Then, maybe these ideas will translate to on-the-ground work done by people like Natalie, Margaret, and Maranda. Or maybe they’ll inspire work to protect and preserve island properties as Bill does. Regardless of the outcome, these ideas should be shared, and I couldn’t be happier to have facilitated people in sharing their own stories. Hopefully, you feel inspired to do the same!

OUTLOOK with Caitlyn Hanley

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.


Author: Chas Van Damme, SMCC Summer Associate. A rising senior at Bates College studying Environmental Studies with a focus in Global Environmental Politics.


OUTLOOK: A Climate Change Observatory site installation with Caitlyn Hanley, intern at the Falmouth Land Trust and Chas Van Damme, summer associate SMCC & MEEA.

There’s a joy-ridden emotion I often find myself chasing, one that surfaces only after heavy exertion, after struggle, never after ease. It’s a funky feeling that I’ve come to love, and one that I recently reacquainted myself with last week.  

On a hot, muggy day, with a lack of bug spray and nothing but rain and sweat forecasted for your afternoon, is there anything you would want to do more than dig some holes in the woods? I know my answer, and it’s probably a little different from yours. I was thrilled about the opportunity to install a new Climate Change Observatory (CCO) post at Morrill Stillings Bird Sanctuary in Falmouth last week, and so was the incredible Caitlyn Hanley, an intern for the Falmouth Land Trust, who I was fortunate enough to join on this adventure. As a fellow student at Bates College, Caitlyn is studying Environmental Studies and working as an organizing intern for Defend Our Health, where she helps lead the charge to promote equitable access to safe and healthy drinking water. She is especially interested in exploring sustainable agricultural systems and the impacts climate change is having on these systems.

If you haven’t heard of the Climate Change Observatory Network, it is a photo monitoring program designed to work with environmental organizations and communities to assist with the observation, measurement, and documentation of long-term climate change trends, and climate adaptation projects. CCO sites are installed all over the state of Maine and are very easy to use. Simply place your cellphone on the photo bracket at the CCO site post, take a picture and upload it to the Chronolog. The photo is instantly placed into a time-lapse alongside pictures taken by other folks at that location, allowing you to view the changes in environment over time. Caitlyn and I had the job to install a new site to add to this growing observatory network and that, of course, meant digging holes!

Caitlyn Hanley using the newly-installed FLT CCO site at Morrill-Stillings Bird Sanctuary.

For our hole-digging adventure, Caitlyn had scouted out a spot next on the Fraxinus trail network overlooking the Bobolink Meadow, the home to a number of Tree Swallows and Bluebirds. FLT decided this was the perfect location to place a CCO site to capture the gradual change in the meadow environment over time. The location also features some invasive plant species in its view, and will monitor ongoing work to remove and manage them in order to restore native plants to create a healthy ecosystem. It was at this set-up location that Caitlyn and I found ourselves working toward that funky feeling I noted earlier.

Trail Map of Morrill-Stillings Bird Sanctuary.
Caitlyn breaking ground on the site!

We had lugged in the 8 foot post, a pair of shovels, and a post-hole digger – well-prepared to start digging. To our surprise, however, putting a post in is a lot harder than it looks. Old root systems, large rocks, and little critters meant we had to take a couple detours into the ground. Careful not to damage the sensitive soil and understory, we made sure to dig slowly, maneuvering gingerly around the tree roots and taking plenty of water breaks. As we switched off with the tools and ping-ponged complaints about the weather and bugs, we couldn’t help but share a couple laughs. Yet this would only mean that funky feeling of joy would hit a little harder once we were done. After 3 feet of digging, we put the post in, oriented it in the best direction, and packed the remaining dirt in. It was perfect timing as rain began to sprinkle over us and it only took a little more work screwing in the Chronolog stand above the post to call it quits. We were done!

Hand-scooping the dirt proved to be more efficient than the post-hole diggers after you’re a couple feet below the surface.
The Climate Change Observatory post we installed. The site will be launched in the coming weeks.

We had installed a post hopefully sturdy enough to stand for years to come, allowing anyone with a phone to help monitor and capture the gradual changes of this lovely little nook in the Falmouth woods. I’m thrilled to have been able to play a role in the CCO network with this install. It’s truly fascinating to see how projects like this come together and can be a tool to help land trusts and communities better understand environmental changes occurring over time and offer support for making more informed management and adaptation decisions. Thanks for a great experience, Caitlyn!

OUTLOOK with Maranda Nemeth

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.


Author: Chas Van Damme, SMCC Summer Associate. A rising senior at Bates College studying Environmental Studies with a focus in Global Environmental Politics.


OUTLOOK: A chat with Maranda Nemeth, Maine Headwaters Project Manager, Atlantic Salmon Federation

Dams have long been controversial structures. They, on the one hand, have the potential to provide clean energy through hydroelectric means, ensure adequate water supplies for irrigation, prevent flooding, etc. On the other hand, what are often the older, more derelict dams have the potential to become infrastructural hazards, barriers to fish migration, obstructions for natural sediment flow, the list goes on. This is why I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of removing a dam. It’s an ironic process of rewilding – of using human intervention to undo a previous human intervention and revitalize what we’ve deemed to be “natural.”

Walton’s Mill Dam prior to its removal. (photo courtesy of Atlantic Salmon Federation)

My wish to see a dam removal first-hand recently came true thanks to Maranda Nemeth, the Project Manager overseeing the removal of Walton’s Mill Dam in Farmington, ME. As a part of the Atlantic Salmon Federation, one of Maranda’s major goals is to conserve and restore wild Atlantic salmon and their ecosystems. Walton’s Mill Dam (now almost completely removed) used to sit along Temple Stream, which feeds into the Sandy River and later the Kennebec River. Temple Stream is extremely important as it has the largest contiguous amount of habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon in Maine. Removing the dam, according to Maranda, “opens up nearly 53 miles of stream to the Sandy River.”  This would be extremely helpful to Atlantic salmon, which use Maine rivers to spawn. The $3 million dam removal project, however, is not limited to just helping just salmon and related fish and wildlife – it opens up wonderful opportunities for recreation and the preservation of history. The project, supported with major help from the Atlantic Salmon Federation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Natural Areas Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and Land and Water Conservation Fund is restoring the park with a new overlook, landscape, and open spaces for the Farmington community to enjoy.

The dam used to sit on the open bedrock shown here. The upstream impoundment is now replaced by bright green vegetation planted by Maranda and her team.

When I arrived at the removal site, I was immediately struck by the sheer size of the operation. Although some may consider the 300 foot dam to be relatively small, the mix of a huge excavator and Maranda’s well-coordinated team moving each and every way really made this appear like quite the operation. Maranda walked me around the site, explaining the complexities of a project like this. Removing the dam meant that the team had to revegetate sizable sections of the upstream impoundment. A diverse mix of plants were used here, each carefully selected from the surrounding environment to ensure that the area can grow back to its natural state. On the downstream side of where the dam had been removed, the team was working to rebuild the river bed to improve sediment flow and facilitate fish migration. This was the aspect of the project I was able to see with my own eyes and, man, was it cool! As we stood and spoke, an excavator carefully moved large stones (which were previously used to build the dam) and old root wads to reconstruct the river bed. While the stones mimic the natural environment of the river, the root wads provide habitat for all sorts of little river creatures to thrive. 

A large tree with a root wad being brought down to the river bed.
The excavator clawing its way up to collect more material to build the stream bed.

When it comes to climate change, Walton’s Mill Dam removal is extremely significant for two major reasons. Firstly, Maranda as well as Bill, an on the ground figure for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who I was also fortunate enough to speak with, noted how old dams like these pose significant hazards to the surrounding community when flooding occurs as a result of big storm events. Climate change is beefing up the impacts of these storms and increasing the rate of their occurrence, thus straining key structural components of the dam. If the dam were to collapse, it could damage downstream vegetation, wildlife, and infrastructure. These impacts are saddening and costly. Secondly, according to reports from the USFWS, Walton’s Mill Dam served as an obstruction to some of the coldest waters in the Northeast, environments that are ecologically prized for the health and future viability of various fish and wildlife. As many may know, climate change is contributing to a significant rise in water temperatures, making these environments extremely hard to come by. The removal of the dam is opening up access to these cold water habitats and hopefully providing avenues for fish and wildlife to shelter from climate-related hazards.

Bill and Maranda overlooking the job site.
A Climate Change Observatory monitoring post was installed and looks upstream on Temple Stream towards the dam area with the park on the right. The photos captured and integrated into the chronolog time lapse will show the construction activity throughout 2022 and long term, as well as help us document the changes occurring over time (Photo courtesy of Atlantic Salmon Federation).

It was a pleasure to visit the dam removal site. Maranda, thank you so much for the tour!! If you are interested in reading more about the Atlantic Salmon Federation and their work, check out this link.