QUICK LINKS TO SECTIONS OF THIS DOCUMENT:
Distribution and Abundance of Wildlife Species
A Land Rich in Contrasts
Public Concern for Conservation
Importance of Wildlife to Maine's Economy
It All Begins with Habitat
Control of Invasive Aquatic Plants
Species of Greatest Conservation Need
Species At-Risk Focus Areas
Beginning with Habitat
State and Federal Conservation Partners
Located at the northeast tip of the United States, the State of Maine is approximately 320 miles long and 210 miles wide and is about halfway between the equator and the North Pole. It is a unique state in that it is almost as large (33,315 mi2) as all other New England states combined, with a human population of approximately 1.2 million, or about 36 people per square mile.
Maine has enormous, natural variety and owes its biological wealth to its 17.5 million acres of vast forests, rugged mountains, more than 5,600 lakes and ponds, 5,000,000 acres of wetlands, 31,800 mi of rivers and streams, 4,100 mi of bold coastline, and 4,613 coastal islands and ledges. Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation, but also contains some of the most significant grassland and agricultural lands in the Northeast.
Maine is a transition area, and its wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. The species most familiar to us – birds (292 species), non-marine mammals (61 species), reptiles (20 species), amphibians (18 species), inland fish (56 species), and marine species (313 – chordates, fishes, and mammals) – actually comprise less than two percent of the known wildlife species in the state. Over 16,000 species of invertebrates, 2,100 species of plants, 310 species of phytoplankton, 271 species of macrophytes, and 3,500 species of fungi have been documented, but experts believe many times these numbers actually exist.
Since European settlement, at least 14 species of wildlife have been extirpated from Maine. To prevent further loss of wildlife species at risk, the Maine Legislature enacted the Maine Endangered Species Act (MESA) in 1975. In 1986, Maine's first list of 23 Endangered and Threatened species was adopted. Currently, 49 species of fish and wildlife are listed as Endangered or Threatened in Maine, either under Maine's Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), or both.
Public concern for the conservation of all of Maine’s wildlife has grown in the past two decades. In the mid-1980s, MDIFW initiated a nongame and endangered wildlife program and has since fully integrated nongame responsibilities throughout its Wildlife Division. Complementary programs to conserve rare plants and natural communities were also established in the Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP) within the Department of Conservation. Maine is also part of the Natural Heritage Program (NatureServe), a national initiative to track and assess biodiversity.
Fish and wildlife play an important role in the lives of Maine people. Maine ranks sixth nationally when comparing the percentage of people who participate in hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife related outdoor recreation. However, fish and wildlife provide more than a source of enjoyment and recreation. A University of Maine report estimated that fish and wildlife related recreation contributed over one billion dollars in economic output: $342 million in payroll, 17,680 jobs, and $67 million in sales and income tax revenue. At over a billion dollars annually, hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated recreation generates over four times the economic output of the ski and snowboard industry (source: Ski Maine Association) in the State and more than three times the combined sales of Maine’s potato and blueberry industries (source: Maine Department of Agriculture). Clearly, Maine’s quality of life and its economy are strongly influenced by the diversity and abundance of fish and wildlife that inhabit our state.
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DISTRIBUTION AND ABUNDANCE OF WILDLIFE SPECIES
In this section we discuss the abundance and distribution of Maine’s fauna as we know and understand them. For convenience, we address them by taxa, i.e. birds, herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians), invertebrates, inland fish, mammals (non-marine), and marine wildlife. Based on the best available existing information and guidance provided by the Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the marine portion of Maine’s CWCS focuses attention on listed marine mammals (whales), listed marine turtles, and diadromous fish from the suite of marine species. Outside of these groups, the majority of the species that have active research programs within the Department of Marine Resources are commercially harvested and have management plans and/or regulations in place for conservation purposes or are National Marine Fisheries Service species of concern in the northeast region (Maine through Virginia) and have proactive conservation programs addressing conservation opportunities. With cooperation and guidance from MDMR and NMFS, we will place a high priority on further evaluating the full suite of marine resources for future inclusion in Maine’s CWCS.
Many of Maine’s bird species occur statewide in suitable habitat, but others occur only in portions of the state. At least 29 inland breeding species of birds reach the northern limits of their normal breeding distribution in Maine, 28 species the southern limits, and 2 species their eastern limits. Two species (Wild Turkey and Peregrine Falcon) have recently been reintroduced in Maine. The Peregrine Falcon population is slowly increasing, but the Wild Turkey has expanded into areas beyond expectations. Other species, such as the Turkey Vulture, Blue-winged Warbler, Evening Grosbeak, American Oystercatcher, and Great Cormorant have expanded their range into Maine at various times over the past century.
The Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Piping Plover, Roseate Tern, Least Tern, Black Tern, Sedge Wren, American Pipit, and Grasshopper Sparrow are all on Maine’s list of Endangered Species, and the Bald Eagle, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Harlequin Duck, Arctic Tern, and Upland Sandpiper are listed as Threatened. The Roseate Tern and Eskimo Curlew are federally listed as Endangered, and the Bald Eagle and Piping Plover are federally listed as Threatened. The Eskimo Curlew and Common Murre are listed as Extirpated, and the Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, and Labrador Duck are extinct. Twenty-four species of birds are considered to be species of Special Concern in Maine.
Reptiles and Amphibians
By eastern U.S. standards, Maine is a large and climatically diverse state. Thus, while reptiles and amphibians (herptiles or herpetofauna) are generally richest at southern latitudes, Maine’s relatively moderate southern and coastal climate permits a large number of species, especially reptiles, to reach their northeastern range limit in the state. Only one species, the mink frog (Rana septentrionalis), reaches the southern edge of its range in Maine (and northern New Hampshire and Vermont). There are 38 species and subspecies of herpetofauna known from Maine, including 9 salamanders, 9 frogs and toads, 8 turtles, and 12 snakes (one is state listed as Extirpated). All of Maine’s herptiles are native except the mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus).
A relatively large proportion of Maine’s reptile fauna (50%) is listed as state Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, or Extirpated. The Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii), box turtle (Terrapene carolina), and black racer (Coluber constrictor) are listed as Endangered, and the spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) is listed as Threatened. The wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta), stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus), ribbon snake (Thamnophis sauritus), brown snake (Storeria dekayi), northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens), northern spring salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus), and four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) are all species of Special Concern in Maine, and the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) is listed as Extirpated.
As is true globally, invertebrates, both in terms of richness and biomass, dominate Maine’s biota. It is conservatively estimated that Maine hosts a total of 15,000 non-marine invertebrate species, or nearly 98% of the state’s animal species diversity.
The best-studied phyla in Maine are the Mollusca (e.g. snails and mussels; ~200 species) and Arthropoda (e.g. insects, crustaceans, spiders; ~7,950 species). Within these phyla, the state of knowledge on distribution, status, and life history is strongest for just three orders: the Unionoida (freshwater mussels), Odonata (damselflies and dragonflies), and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Other invertebrate taxa also considered because of partial knowledge include Gastropoda (snails; 15 species), Plecoptera (stoneflies; 7 species), Trichoptera (caddisflies; 3 species), Ephemeroptera (mayflies; 22 species), and Coleoptera (beetles; 2 species).
To the best of our knowledge, at least nine invertebrate species are likely extirpated from Maine, including one beetle and eight butterflies and moths. Maine’s current Endangered and Threatened Species List includes the Roaring Brook mayfly (Epeorus frisoni), ringed boghaunter (Williamsonia lintneri), Clayton’s copper (Lycaena dorcas claytoni), Edwards’ hairstreak (Satyrium edwardsii), Hessel’s hairstreak (Callophrys hesseli) and Katahdin arctic (Oeneis polixenes katahdin) as Endangered species, and the tidewater mucket (Leptodea ochracea), yellow lampmussel (Lampsilis cariosa), Tomah mayfly (Siphlonisca aerodromia), pygmy snaketail (Ophiogomphus howei), twilight moth (Lycia rachelae), and pine barrens zanclognatha (Zanclognatha martha) as Threatened species. The American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) and Karner blue butterfly (Plebejus melissa samuelis) are federally listed as Endangered.
Maine has an abundance of freshwater habitat that support a fishery of some kind. A total of 56 freshwater fish species occur in Maine of which 17 are not indigenous to the state. The list of 56 species does not include fishes that are primarily estuarine, such as the Mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus), nor does it include diadromous fishes such as the searun alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). However, the list does include the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), a catadromous species.
Of the 56 species, 20 are classified as sportfish species regularly pursued by anglers. Fisheries for the other species are of lesser importance, either because they have limited distributions or because of angler preference.
None of Maine’s inland fish species are federally Threatened or Endangered, although one, the American eel, is in the early stages of the process to determine the need for a federal listing. The swamp darter (Etheostoma fusiforme) is Threatened in Maine. The redfin pickerel (Esox americanus americanus), Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus oquassa), lake trout, and lake whitefish are of concern because of limited or declining distributions and/or population numbers.
Maine has 61 mammalian species not associated with the marine environment. Approximately 12 species of mammals occur in habitats that are rare, and roughly 41% of the mammals are limited in their distribution because they require habitats that are geographically limited in Maine.
Maine’s native mammalian fauna has remained fairly intact since losing the sea mink (Mustela macrodon), which is now extinct; caribou (Rangifer tarandus); eastern cougar (Felis concolor); and wolf (Canis lupus) roughly 100 years ago. Some mammals, such as the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) and opossum (Didelphis virginiana), have expanded their range into Maine, and others have expanded or contracted their distribution in Maine.
None of Maine’s non-marine mammals are listed by Maine as Endangered, and only one is listed as Threatened – the Northern bog lemming (Synaptomys borealis). The Canada lynx is a species of Special Concern in Maine (Appendix 10). The gray wolf (Canis lupus) and Eastern cougar (Felis concolor couguar) are federally listed as Endangered, and the Canada lynx (Lynx Canadensis) as Threatened.
There are 2,485 known species of plants and animals in the Gulf of Maine including phytoplankton (310), macrophytes (271), invertebrates (1,414), chordates (37), fishes (252), birds (177), and mammals (24). The Gulf of Maine supports mainly boreal, cold temperate, and non-migratory species.
All federally listed marine mammals and reptiles are on the State list of Endangered and Threatened Marine Species. These include five Endangered whales: northern right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), finback whale (Balaenoptera physalus), sperm whale (Physeter catodon), and sei whale, (Balaenoptera borealis), two Endangered turtles: leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), Atlantic ridley turtle, also known as Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempi), and one state and federally listed Threatened turtle: loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta). The shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is federally Endangered, as is the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in the Gulf of Maine DPS found in eight rivers in the mid-coast and Downeast areas.
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A LAND RICH IN CONTRASTS
Located at the northeast tip of the United States, the State of Maine is approximately 320 miles long and 210 miles wide and is about halfway between the equator and the North Pole. It is a unique state in that it is almost as large (33,315 mi2) as all other New England states combined, with a human population of approximately 1.2 million or about one person per 36 mi2.
Maine is a land rich in contrasts between the boreal and temperate, freshwater and saltwater, upland and wetland, and alpine and lowlands. The state has enormous natural variety and owes its biological wealth to its 17.5 million acres of vast forests, rugged mountains, more than 5,600 lakes and ponds, 5,000,000 acres of wetlands, 31,800 mi of rivers and streams, 4,100 mi of bold coastline, and 4,613 coastal islands and ledges (Brandes 2001, Gawler et al. 1996). Maine is the most heavily forested state in the nation, but also contains some of the most significant grassland and agricultural lands in the Northeast.
This mosaic of diverse physical settings supports a wide diversity of wildlife that can be equaled in few other states. Maine has the largest population of bald eagles in the Northeast. The state’s islands support one of the most diverse nesting seabird populations on the East Coast, including habitat for rare species such as the Roseate and Arctic Tern, Atlantic Puffin, and Razorbill Auk. Maine’s relatively clean, free-flowing rivers sustain some of the best remaining populations of rare freshwater mussels and dragonflies in the East, host globally rare endemics, such as the Tomah mayfly (Siphlonisca aerodromia) and Roaring Brook mayfly (Epeorus frisoni), and support the recently listed Atlantic salmon DPS (Distinct Population Segment) (Salmo salar) found in eight mid-coast and downeast rivers. Maine’s mountains and forested habitats contribute significantly to the global breeding habitat of neotropical migrants such as Bicknell’s Thrush and Blackthroated-blue Warbler. The state has some of the best examples of pitch pine-scrub oak forest remaining in New England, hosting a suite of globally rare plants and invertebrates.
Maine is a transition area, and its wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. The species most familiar to us – birds (292 species), non-marine mammals (61 species), reptiles (20 species), amphibians (18 species), inland fish (56 species), and marine species (313 – chordates, fishes, and mammals) – actually comprise less than two percent of the known wildlife species in the state. Over 16,000 species of invertebrates, 2,100 species of plants, 310 species of phytoplankton, 271 species of macrophytes, and 3,500 species of fungi have been documented, but experts believe many times these numbers actually exist (McCollough et al. 2003, D. Gilbert pers. Comm.). This impressive array of flora and fauna is particularly impressive when one considers that only a handful of species were present just 15,000 years ago when a mile-high sheet of ice covered the state.
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PUBLIC CONCERN FOR CONSERVATION
Since European settlement, at least 14 species of wildlife have been extirpated from Maine. The most well known include the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus), wolf (Canis lupus), eastern cougar (Felis concolor), Atlantic gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus (Lilljeborg)), timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus), Labrador Duck, Great Auk, Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) and giant sea mink (Mustela macrodon). To prevent further loss of wildlife species at risk, the Legislature enacted the Maine Endangered Species Act (MESA) in 1975, one of the first states to do so. In 1986, Maine's first list of 23 Endangered and Threatened species was adopted. After MDIFW reviewed the status of many of Maine's wildlife species in the mid-1990s, 20 new species were added to the list in 1997.
Currently, 49 species of fish and wildlife are listed as Endangered or Threatened in Maine, either under Maine's Endangered Species Act, the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), or both. Present information does not indicate an extinction crisis, but considering the number of species for which we have no information, the growing number of rare species, and the growing threats to wildlife habitat, we cannot afford to be complacent.
Public concern for the conservation of all of Maine’s wildlife has grown in the past two decades. In the mid-1980s, the MDIFW initiated a nongame and endangered wildlife program and has since fully integrated nongame responsibilities throughout its Wildlife Division. Complementary programs to conserve rare plants and natural communities were also established in the Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP) within the Department of Conservation. Maine is also part of the Natural Heritage Program (NatureServe), a national initiative to track and assess biodiversity.
In 1990, the Maine Forest Biodiversity Project and MNAP completed the first assessment of status and trends of statewide biodiversity (Gawler et al. 1996). The Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit’s GAP project (Krohn et al. 1998) documented patterns of vertebrate richness. McMahon (1990) delineated biophysical regions within the state based on climate variables, topography, and soil characteristics, correlated with plant species richness. Beginning with Habitat, a landscape approach to habitat conservation was initiated in municipalities in southern and coastal Maine in 2000, and is currently being adapted for statewide application.
Though funding for rare and endangered species has never been stable or secure, as Maine acknowledges the 30th anniversary of the MESA, we have many accomplishments to be proud of.
- Maine’s Bald Eagle population has grown from 29 pairs in 1972 to nearly 350 pairs in 2004, was down listed from Endangered to Threatened, and will likely be completely delisted in the not too distant future.
- Piping Plovers have increased from seven pairs nesting on four beaches in 1983 to 61 pairs nesting at 19 sites in 2003, due largely to intensive management at nesting sites and the cooperation of private landowners and municipalities.
- Populations of Roseate Terns have returned to near historical levels, and seabird populations have increased.
- Surveys for many listed species, and a number of Special Concern species, were conducted in several ecoregions, thus significantly enhancing our knowledge of the status of many wildlife species and important habitats.
- Specific baseline surveys were initiated or completed for amphibians, reptiles, breeding birds, owls, shorebirds, nesting seabirds, Harlequin Ducks, dragonflies, damselflies, salt marsh birds, wading birds, grassland birds, freshwater mussels, bats, Black Terns, Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and wolves.
- Major research studies of Spotted (Clemmys guttata) and Blanding’s turtles (Emys blandingii), vernal pools, Bald Eagles, Atlantic Puffins, wood turtles (Glyptemys insculpta), Tomah mayflies, Harlequin Ducks, New England cottontails (Sylvilagus transitionalis), Sharp-tailed Sparrows, and Black Terns provided, and are providing, data critical to management decisions.
- The Department initiated a lynx radiotelemetry study in Maine in 1999 at a time when there was little information about lynx in the entire contiguous United States. Research efforts have greatly expanded our knowledge and understanding of lynx abundance, home range, habitat use, survival, den site selection, reproduction, and interspecific competition with other predators, and have provided a significant contribution to the understanding of lynx in the U.S.
- Sixty-one species assessments (comprehensive documents that summarize current knowledge about a species) and 26 management systems (blueprints for making management decisions) were compiled for a number of species and species groups.
- Several new species were discovered in Maine including: the Quebec emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora brevicincta) (formerly found only in bogs in Quebec), scarlet bluet damselfly (Enallagma pictum) (historically found only in ponds and lakes of southern New England), and the frigga fritillary (Boloria frigga). The Sedge Wren and Tomah mayfly were rediscovered after they were believed to be extirpated from Maine.
- Land protection has accelerated the purchase of conservation easements and fee ownership of many coastal areas, islands, Bald Eagle nesting areas, lakeshores, and rare and endangered species habitats.
- A number of websites, books, and informational materials were produced in cooperation with partners to increase awareness and understanding of rare and endangered wildlife in the state.
- Conservation partnerships have been born and strengthened.
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IMPORTANCE OF WILDLIFE TO MAINE’S ECONOMY
Fish and wildlife play an important role in the lives of Maine people. Maine ranks sixth nationally when comparing the percentage of people who participate in hunting, fishing, trapping, and wildlife related outdoor recreation (USFWS 2001). However, fish and wildlife provide more than a source of enjoyment and recreation. A University of Maine report (Teisl and Boyle 1998) estimated that fish and wildlife related recreation contributed over one billion dollars in economic output: $342 million in payroll, 17,680 jobs, and $67 million in sales and income tax revenue. At over a billion dollars annually, hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated recreation generates over four times the economic output of the ski and snowboard industry (source: Ski Maine Association) in the State and more than three times the combined sales of Maine’s potato and blueberry industries (source: Maine Department of Agriculture). Clearly, Maine’s quality of life and its economy are strongly influenced by the diversity and abundance of fish and wildlife that inhabit our state.
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IT ALL BEGINS WITH HABITAT
Maine’s diverse assemblage of wildlife, plants, and natural communities, and the outdoor experiences we cherish, depends on the availability of suitable habitat. The Maine landscape is not static but the result of profound natural and human changes. Changes brought about by fire, land conversion, abandonment of agricultural land, timber harvesting, and the defoliation of forest by insects, such as the spruce budworm, have had, and will continue to have, a dramatic impact on habitats and levels of biodiversity. Similarly, aquatic ecosystems in Maine have been profoundly and adversely affected by exotic introductions, dam building, pollution, pesticide use, and excessive nutrient input (Gawler et al. 1996). These effects have occurred, and are occurring, statewide but differ in intensity from north to south.
The key landscape features affecting wildlife diversity in southern and coastal Maine are conversion and fragmentation of habitats. Southern and coastal Maine has the highest level of plant and wildlife diversity in the State, yet is also one of the most desirable areas for development. In a 2001 report, The Brookings Institute found that sprawl – the conversion of rural lands for urban or suburban purposes – in the greater Portland area is occurring at one of the fastest rates in the country (Fulton et al. 2001). From 1982-1997, the population of the greater Portland metropolitan region grew 17.4% with a 108.4% increase in urbanized land. It ranked as the ninth fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.
The Maine State Planning Office (1997) reported that “…the fastest growing towns in Maine have been ‘new suburbs’ 10 to 25 miles distant from metropolitan areas.” Two to 10-acre house lots in fields and forests are common. Increasing development pressures are creating a checkerboard of non-contiguous habitat for wildlife. The Maine State Planning Office (1997) also noted:
“…habitats for wildlife in Maine have been seriously fragmented by development sprawl….In southern Maine nesting sites for endangered birds, such as the piping plover and least tern, have been lost to development.” “A study of 8 towns in southern Maine in 1985 found that 76% of the wetlands were visible from a road or within 2,000 feet…” “Of 2,700 Maine lakes, over 200 have already been harmed by development, and another 300 are at risk if current trends continue.” The Maine Environmental Priorities Project (1996) concluded, “…patterns of development throughout southern and coastal Maine and in riparian zones statewide seriously threaten some species and some rare and critical habitats as well as the overall productivity of Maine’s terrestrial ecosystems.” Northern Maine, Thoreau’s Maine Woods, has remained largely unsettled but not untouched. Timber harvests were once confined to river courses or areas accessible by water, and most harvests were single tree or small group selection. As a result of increased demand for forest products leading to the advent of mechanized harvesting, and the opening of more extensive road systems as transportation corridors, the nature of timber harvesting in Maine has changed over the last 50 years (Gawler et al. 1996). Though still the most heavily forested state in the country, Maine’s forested landscape has been strongly influenced by human use.
To quote an old cliché, “the only constant in life is change”. Change is a part of all ecosystems. Understanding how ecosystems change, and how species are affected by change, will be important if we are to maintain Maine’s biological diversity.
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CONTROL OF INVASIVE AQUATIC PLANTS
The Maine Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants (MCIAP) website http://www.mciap.org/ states “The introduction of non-indigenous invasive aquatic plant and animal species to the United States has been escalating with widespread destructive consequences. The impacts of the spread of invasive aquatic plants are well known: habitat disruption, loss of native plant and animal communities, reduced property values, impaired fishing and degraded recreational experiences, and enormous and ongoing control costs.”
With over 5,600 lakes and ponds, and thousands of miles of stream habitat, the task of preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species (e.g. non-native milfoils, etc.) in Maine waters is one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Again from MCIAP, “Invasive plants and animals are moved about in complex and often unseen ways. The speed at which a new introduction can explode into an ecologically and economically disastrous infestation is well documented. Once an invader is well established, eradication is extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible.”
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The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conducts a National Resources Inventory (NRI) approximately every five years that describes the status, condition, and trends of soil, water, and land resources across the country. According to the 1997 NRI, revised in 2000 (NRCS 2000), the vast majority of the state (90%) is characterized as nonfederal rural lands, referring to all lands in private, municipal, state, or tribal ownership.
Of the 19,505,900 acres of nonfederal land in Maine, 17,691,100 (91%) are classified as forestland. Developed land, cropland, and pastureland comprise nearly 4%, 2%, and less than 1% of nonfederal lands in the State respectively.
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SPECIES OF GREATEST CONSERVATION NEED
Maine has identified 213 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN): 103 birds, 7 herpetofauna, 12 inland fish, 72 invertebrates, 6 non-marine mammals, and 13 marine species. MDIFW and MDMR staff, in consultation with species experts and stakeholders, identified the primary and secondary habitats important to the lifecycle of each of Maine’s SGCN species. However, habitat requirements for all SGCN species, especially some invertebrates, are not well understood, so best professional judgment was exercised in those cases. Species-specific distribution information is presented in the table below.
To understand the following discussion, please keep in mind that some SGCN species are double-counted because of distinctly different habitat requirements during different stages of their life or different seasons (e.g. breeding season vs. winter requirements). Therefore, we use the number 222 instead of 213 when discussing primary habitats of SGCN species.
Of the 222 primary habitats identified for SGCN species, freshwater habitats accounted for 39%, upland habitats 37%, and coastal habitats 24% (Table 28). Primary habitats for SGCN birds accounted for 72% of the coastal primary habitats, invertebrates 52% of the freshwater, and birds 59% of the upland primary habitats.
If we examine primary habitats by taxa, we find that 45% of the primary habitats for SGCN birds are in coastal habitats, all primary habitats for SGCN herpetofauna and inland fish are in freshwater habitats, 63% of primary habitats for SGCN invertebrates are in freshwater habitats, 83% of primary habitats for non-marine SGCN mammals are in upland habitats, and 72% of the primary habitats for SGCN marine species are in coastal habitats. Of the 21 habitat types we identified, rivers and streams account for 14% of the SGCN primary habitats, followed by lakes and ponds (12%), and rocky coastline and islands (9%). Essentially all 21 habitats, except caves and mines, serve as primary habitats for at least one SGCN species, and all serve as secondary habitats for at least one SGCN species.
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SPECIES AT-RISK FOCUS AREAS
Southern and coastal Maine has the highest level of plant and animal diversity in the state. Unfortunately, this area is one of the most desirable for development, and increasing development is leading to habitat fragmentation and loss. Within this area, the State of Maine has been working to identify at risk plant and animal populations and the habitats they need to remain viable.
During the past five years, MDIFW and MNAP have undertaken systematic surveys of high value habitats supporting rare species and high quality natural communities in this region. These surveys included aerial photo interpretation to identify potential sites, tax map research, requests for permission from landowners to conduct field surveys, field surveys, and data entry into a Biological Conservation Database (BCD).
Using data from this inventory work and from other sources, biologists at MNAP, MDIFW, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) evaluated the landscape identifying the areas with the highest concentrations of rare species and high quality habitats. Degree of rarity and landscape context were also included in the process. The result of this effort is a mapped suite of species-at-risk Focus Areas. These areas include assemblages of the best examples of rare species populations and high quality natural habitats in Maine. For each species-at-risk Focus Area there is a basic conservation plan that includes descriptions of significant features, recommendations for how best to protect those resources, and a map that delimits the area and shows locations of rare species and high quality habitats. Appendix 8 provides links to 93 species at-risk focus areas in Maine http://www.mainenaturalareas.org/docs/program_activities/land_trust_descriptions.php.
Criteria used to delineate focus areas include locations of rare plants, animals, and natural communities; locations of the best examples of common natural communities; locations of significant wildlife habitats; and locations where these features overlapped with larger undeveloped blocks.
Focus Area boundaries are based on sub-watersheds and major fragmenting features such as roads. The boundaries are neither firm nor field-checked, rather they are meant to indicate the general location of conservation focus. The data that were used to identify Focus Areas are described below:
MNAP Rare or Exemplary Natural Communities are two broad classes of natural communities recognized as important for conservation: those that are rare and those that are common but in exemplary condition. A natural community is a system of interacting plants and their common environment, recurring across the landscape, where the effects of human intervention are minimal. There are currently 98 natural communities known in Maine, examples of which include pitch pine/scrub oak barrens, Atlantic white cedar bog, and Spartina tidal marsh. Examples of common community types include oak/pine forest, red maple swamp, and cattail marsh. Most upland natural communities have been impacted by land use practices, and it is unusual to find relatively large, undisturbed examples of them. Size, disturbance, and condition are all considered when assessing the quality of common natural communities.
Essential Wildlife Habitats are defined as areas currently or historically providing physical or biological features essential to the conservation of an Endangered or Threatened species in Maine, and which may require special management considerations. Examples of areas that could qualify for designation are nest sites or important feeding areas. For some species, protection of these kinds of habitats is vital to preventing further decline or achieving recovery goals.
Before an area can become designated as Essential Habitat, it must be identified and mapped by MDIFW and adopted through public rulemaking procedures, following Maine's Administrative Procedures Act. Essential Habitats were first taken through rulemaking by MDIFW in 1989, when designation criteria and protection guidelines were developed for bald eagle nest sites. Since then, Essential Habitat has also been implemented for three more listed species: the Roseate Tern, Least Tern, and Piping Plover. Additions of newly qualified areas, as well as deletions of sites no longer eligible, are ongoing for these four species.
Once an area becomes designated as Essential Habitat, the Maine Endangered Species Act requires that no state agency or municipal government shall permit, license, fund, or carry out projects that would significantly alter the habitat or violate protection guidelines adopted for the habitat. If a project occurs partly or wholly within an Essential Habitat, it must be evaluated by MDIFW before state and/or municipal permits can be approved or project activities can take place.
This regulatory habitat protection tool is used only when habitat loss has been identified as a major factor limiting species recovery. This action rarely stops development. In fact, in the past, most development has proceeded, but MDIFW biologists work to modify the project so listed species and their habitat are protected.
Significant Wildlife Habitats include: habitat for Endangered and Threatened species; high and moderate value deer wintering areas and travel corridors; high and moderate value waterfowl and wading bird habitats; shorebird nesting, feeding, and staging areas; seabird nesting islands; significant vernal pools (not mapped in this project); and nursery areas for Atlantic salmon (not mapped in this project). These habitats are mapped as a product of the Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA), a law passed in 1988 to prevent degradation of significant state resources. This law provides for habitat identification and mapping for animals that have very specific habitat requirements. To date, seabird nesting islands have received formal designation as Significant Wildlife Habitat. Other candidate Significant Wildlife Habitats have yet to receive full legal designation, but various state agencies reviewing development applications refer to these mapped data for guidance on permitting.
Other Rare Wildlife Data contains Endangered and Threatened animal habitats and the locations of rare animals themselves. These rare animals also include Special Concern species that may be very rare or vulnerable, for which biologists are gathering more information.
Large Undeveloped Blocks are relatively unbroken areas of habitat that include forest, grassland/agricultural land, and wetlands. "Unbroken" indicates that the habitat is crossed by few roads, and has relatively little development and human habitation.
As depicted in the figure below, focus area delineation to date has occurred in southern, coastal, and downeast Maine, though we are currently in the process of evaluating focus area criteria for statewide application, including Maine’s unorganized towns in northern and western portions of the state. We hope to have Focus Areas designated statewide by June 2007.
Twenty of these Focus Areas have been identified as priorities for conservation through Maine’s Landowner Incentive Program (LIP). Conservation of species-at-risk Focus Areas is critical as the pace and pervasiveness of development in southern and coastal Maine is a constant threat. Without a doubt, these areas represent some of the most extensive, high quality habitats left in the developed regions of the Northeast. Now is the time for meaningful protection of these habitats and the suites of species they support; in a few short years, it is likely that many of these areas will become fragmented and degraded by encroaching development.
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BEGINNING WITH HABITAT
A LANDSCAPE APPROACH TO HABITAT CONSERVATION IN MAINE
The Problem: Maine’s diverse assemblage of wildlife, plants, and natural communities is threatened. Over two-thirds of the state’s rare and endangered species are endangered because of habitat loss.
Historically, Maine’s development pattern was based on the town center with homes nearby so that it was practical to walk to the town hall, store, and post office. Farms were thinly scattered on rural roads. Forests for hunting and wood gathering, and lakes and streams for fishing, were not far from the town centers. Small areas of the landscape were converted for residential and commercial purposes, and large contiguous areas were left untouched by development. Today, development in Maine is spreading out, sprawling across our landscape, contributing to the loss of habitat and outdoor experiences.
Much is at risk. Maine is a large state by eastern standards -- as large as the remaining New England states combined. It has a wealth of coastal, freshwater, and upland habitats. Approximately 31,800 miles of streams and rivers course through the state. More than 5,600 lakes and ponds dot the landscape. Maine’s scenic, rock-bound coast is 4,100 miles long and embraces 4,613 islands between Kittery and Eastport. One-third of the state’s area is comprised of freshwater wetlands, including hardwood floodplains, freshwater marshes, and dense assemblages of vernal pools. Maine is the most heavily forested state in the United States, but also contains some of the most significant grassland and agricultural lands in the Northeast. Collectively, these lands provide significant habitat for many of the Northeast’s rare and endangered wildlife.
Development sprawl’s deliterious effect on habitat also undermines important economic benefits to Maine communities. In 1996, the economic impact of wildlife recreation in Maine totaled over 1.1 billion dollars. Hunting, trapping, fishing, and wildlife watching combined, have dwarfed Maine's other recreation industries. Wildlife recreation has a larger economic impact than all skiing, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, windjammer cruises, or other recreational attractions, combined. Wildlife-generated revenues even surpass the economic value of Maine's commercial fishing industry.
Maine’s private landowners own over 95% of these lands. Corporate forest landowners own nearly half the state; small woodlot owners, farmers, and residential landowners own much of the remainder. Private landowners are integral to the conservation of our wildlife heritage and natural resources and are often committed in principle to stewardship of endangered or threatened species, but the lack of appropriate incentives has limited the scale and tenure of such partnerships.
The Solution: Private Landowner Partnerships Guided by Beginning with Habitat
Beginning with Habitat (BwH) embodies a fundamental change in the way that state and federal agencies approach wildlife habitat conservation. It is a habitat-based model that provides the information to cooperatively create a landscape with local decision-makers that will support all breeding species of wildlife occurring in Maine into the future. Too often, the ability of the landscape to support wildlife is eroded by the impacts of unplanned, sprawling development. Beginning with Habitat takes habitat data from multiple sources, integrates it into one package, and makes it accessible to communities to use pro-actively (Appendix 12). Beginning with Habitat partners can then work with communities to design a landscape that accommodates the growth they need with the highest resource conservation, by creating a functional landscape based on the resources available and the habitat needs of species that are present. The program is designed to help towns create a vision for their future that includes maintaining the ability of their landscape to support all wildlife 100 years from now.
Beginning with Habitat seeks to achieve habitat conservation for rare and endangered species by working cooperatively with willing public and private landowers; it is not a regulatory, land-use zoning mechanism. The success of Beginning with Habitat depends largely on voluntary land conservation efforts by landowners, particularly private landowners. These habitat conservation efforts will involve conservation easements, cooperative management agreements, and other tools. The availability of meaningful incentives is critical to long-term stewardship by the private landowner. If continued development of Maine is done thoughtfully, it will be located in appropriate areas, and open space will be maintained for fish, wildlife, and plant habitat; farming and forestry opportunities; as well as outdoor recreation.
Collaboration: The most important first step to protecting habitat is knowledge. This program brings together the expertise and resources of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Maine Department of Conservation’s Natural Areas Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Maine State Planning Office, Maine Audubon Society, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and Maine’s 13 Regional Planning Commissions.
Beginning with Habitat provides municipalities, land trusts, and other organizations engaged in habitat conservation for rare and endangered species with the ecological knowledge required to work effectively with private landowners to achieve optimal, focused habitat conservation.
It does this by providing each Maine town with a series of integrated maps and accompanying information depicting and describing various habitats of statewide and federal significance, including rare and endangered species, found in the town. These maps provide information to communities that can help guide conservation of valuable habitats as well as recommendations that can be used to build a system of interconnected and conserved lands. The partnership also provides coordinated technical assistance. It is hoped that the data, maps, written material, and suggestions for local conservation strategies will help inform and guide each town’s growth in such a way that 50 years from now Maine will retain its rich and diverse outdoor heritage. Unprecedented levels of cooperation among the coalition members make these innovations possible.
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the Maine Natural Areas Program also provide Beginning with Habitat data to various land conservation partners: local/regional land trusts, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, The Nature Conservancy, and the Maine Audubon Society.
The Beginning with Habitat Model: The University of Maine’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit (CFWRU) initially developed Beginning with Habitat under the direction of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (Krohn and Hepinstall 2000). Data on plants and wildlife habitats of federal interest were later added by the Maine Natural Areas Program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
By overlaying maps of the habitat needs of all of Maine’s vertebrate species with Maine’s primary land cover types (forests, fields, wetlands) in a geographic information system (GIS), the CFWRU was able to determine that 80-95% of all of Maine’s vertebrate species would likely be present if riparian habitats, high value plant and animal habitats, and large habitat blocks are protected.
The Beginning with Habitat program provides municipalities, land trusts, and other organizations engaged in habitat conservation with maps of habitat data and conservation recommendations in three primary areas that are used to build a system of interconnected and conserved lands to promote habitat conservation for Maine’s diverse assemblage of wildlife and plants, including rare and endangered species.
Riparian Habitat provides habitat for many species that use the transition zone between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. It includes all areas adjacent to streams, rivers, wetlands, lakes and ponds, and can function also as travel corridors linking areas together on the landscape.
High Value Plant and Animal Habitats include mapped locations of:
Large Habitat Blocks provide habitat for plants and animals not included in riparian or high value habitats. Large blocks are relatively unbroken areas of habitat including forest, grasslands, and agricultural lands that are crossed by few roads and have relatively little development and human habitation. These areas of relatively intact habitat provide homes for medium to large bodied animals with large spatial requirements and, in the case of large forested blocks, for species requiring forest interior habitat. Management of some of these uplands in early successional stages is critical to conservation of listed species such as grasshopper sparrows, upland sandpipers, northern blazing star, etc. and candidate listings like New England cottontails. Conservation of Large Habitat Blocks also presents opportunities to promote and preserve active farmland and woodlots, provide recreational opportunities, conserve aquifers, and maintain scenic vistas.
- “High value” habitat for priority trust species as identified and mapped by the Gulf of Maine Project, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
- Rare plant locations and rare or exemplary natural communities as identified and mapped by the Maine Natural Areas Program; and
- Essential habitat defined by Maine’s Endangered Species Act (designated for some Endangered species, such as Bald Eagles, Piping Plovers, and Least Terns); significant wildlife habitat defined by Maine’s Natural Resources Protection Act (deer wintering areas; waterfowl and wading bird habitats; seabird nesting islands; and shorebird nesting, feeding and staging areas); and the locations of Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, and other rare species as identified and mapped by MDIFW.
Maps featuring water resources and riparian habitats, high value plant and animal habitats including federal trust species, and large undeveloped habitat blocks comprise the core Beginning with Habitat maps. Municipalities are also provided with supplemental maps showing public and conservation lands, watersheds, species-at-risk focus areas, etc.
Accomplishments: Since its inception in 2000, the Beginning with Habitat project has met with and provided information to nearly 150 cities and towns in Maine and more than 30 land trusts and regional planning commissions. Many towns have incorporated the information they have received from BwH into their comprehensive plans. Improved scientific understanding by local planners is reflected in better planning for habitat conservation and land use decisions. By educating local decision-makers about the link between wildlife habitat and other resource functions such as water and air quality, flood flow control, and aesthetics and recreational opportunities provided by open space, communities are better prepared to plan. In 2003, an interactive website was developed www.beginningwithhabitat.org to provide quick, efficient access to all of the BwH information.
The Challenges to Accomplishing Beginning with Habitat: Habitat conservation for Maine’s rare, Threatened, and Endangered wildlife, plants, and natural communities is largely provided by the voluntary stewardship of the private landowner, who rarely is compensated for protecting his or her land as habitat for these rare species.
For the last 5 years, BwH partners have worked together on the overall design of Beginning With Habitat. MDIFW’s companion program, Living With Endangered Species, provides outreach and education for landowners and suggests strategies for local stewardship of Bald Eagle and Piping Plover habitat. Both of these initiatives rely on a landowner incentive program, but until recently federal and state funds have been limited. Limited funding to staff, establish, and implement a landowner incentive program has limited habitat conservation successes on private lands.
In 2004, Maine received a $1.3 million federal grant to implement a Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) in the state, and was awarded an additional $655,000 in LIP funds in 2005. MDIFW is using new federal assistance available through the Landowner Incentive Program to develop capacity within Maine to:
Replication: Beginning with Habitat is a model for the way government agencies can cooperate with non-profit conservation organizations and local communities across the country. In Maine, the program has already provided a model for the dissemination of other types of data to local planners. As demonstrated by its replication in Maine, many aspects of this program are transferable beyond the conservation and planning fields. For example, harnessing the power of private non-profit organizations to assist with government efforts is an effective use of both government and non-profit resources. Similarly, when local decision-makers have quality information, training, and technical assistance they are better able to support state conservation goals and leverage state and federal resources while ensuring that solutions are relevant and effective at a local level.
- Support implementation of Maine’s ongoing broad-scale habitat conservation planning effort, Beginning with Habitat, by working cooperatively with willing private landowners via incentives and cooperative agreements;
- Conserve habitats on private land to benefit State-listed, Federally-listed, proposed, candidate species, and other species at risk; and
- Provide technical and financial assistance to landowners for habitat protection and restoration.
Recognition: The New England Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Beginning with Habitat with an Environmental Merit Award at a special Earth Day ceremony held at Faneuil Hall in Boston on April 22, 2004. The EPA’s Environmental Merit Award is an annual award that recognizes outstanding environmental advocates who have made significant contributions toward preserving and protecting our natural resources.
Beginning with Habitat’s nexus with Maine’s CWCS Key Habitats
Maine’s SGCN have requirements that are inextricably tied to their habitats, and degradation or loss of habitat is often a primary threat to species viability. To conserve SGCN, we have identified 21 key habitats, described in Chapter 4.2 and used throughout this CWCS. Their nexus with the 3 primary layers of Beginning with Habitat is depicted in Table 42. Though individually these habitat types are important to Maine’s SGCN, they are functionally more effective if connected. Beginning with Habitat’s riparian and large habitat block layers allows us to build a system of interconnected and conserved lands.
Adapting Beginning with Habitat for Use in Towns in Northern and Eastern Maine
The Beginning with Habitat program is a cooperative, non-regulatory habitat conservation approach to working with municipalities, land trusts, and other conservation organizations to conserve riparian habitats, high value plant and animal habitats, and large blocks of upland habitat. Its goal is to create and maintain a landscape to support all native plant and animal species currently breeding in Maine.
Since its inception, Beginning with Habitat has been used to promote habitat conservation in Maine’s 435 organized towns where more than two-thirds of the state’s rare and endangered species occur and the pace and pervasiveness of development is a constant threat. Beginning with Habitat’s mission in the managed forests within 457 unorganized townships in northern, western, and eastern Maine is no different than that of southern, central, and coastal areas. The only differences are land ownership patterns and land use practices.
During the past 10 years, a number of large forest landowners have initiated their own efforts to conserve habitat at the landscape scale, particularly in regards to riparian habitat and more recently incorporating the marten habitat model developed at the University of Maine (Hepinstall and Harrison 2004). While regulation of habitats (e.g., deer wintering areas) has been in place for more than 30 years, this approach, and other single-species habitat conservation efforts, are not meeting the need to address habitats and natural communities as part of forest management at the landscape scale.
In 2003, MDIFW convened a working group of state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academia to develop recommendations for adapting Beginning with Habitat to conserve habitat for at-risk species in the managed forests within the unorganized townships in Maine. The working group identified the following goals and desired outcomes. A number of strategies and supporting documentation is found in Appendix 12. Success will depend on voluntary actions and cooperative efforts by landowners and land managers.
- Maintain sufficient habitat to support all native plant and animal species currently breeding in Maine.
- Maintain healthy, well-distributed populations of native flora and fauna.
- Maintain a complete and balanced array of ecosystems.
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- Maintain and increase number of large blocks of forest.
- Conserve high value plant and animal habitats.
- Protect natural communities.
- Provide adequate early successional habitat for wildlife species.
- Conserve riparian areas/wetlands.
- Increase amount and distribution of late successional habitats.
- Minimize impact of roads.
The Cooperative Management Plan for Large Whales and Sea Turtles in the State of Maine (Stockwell 2004) (Appendix 10) includes whale monitoring components in the form of a voluntary sightings network and a whale sightings web page. The Voluntary Sightings Network is comprised of members of the Maine commercial fishing industry, Maine Marine Patrol (MMP), whale watch vessels, and other mariners (ship pilots, ferry captains, tugboat pilots, recreational boaters, and sailors). All large whale sightings can be reported to the Maine Whale Plan Coordinator using the upgraded statewide toll free Maine Marine Animal Reporting Hotline, 1-800-532-9551. Once verified, whale sightings are entered into a web-based GIS application by staff at the Department of Marine Resources in West Boothbay Harbor and are immediately available for public viewing on the Maine Whale Sightings web page. Level I Responders (including trained lobstermen, Marine Patrol officers, and whale watches) are available coast-wide to verify sightings or provide stand-by assistance in the event of an entangled animal.
Responses to verified sightings are determined by the nature of the event. Calls are routed by the Whale Plan Coordinator to appropriate parties (NOAA/NMFS, PCCS, N E Aquarium, U.S. Coast Guard, MMP). Whale sightings protocol has been refined through discussions with MMP, industry, and NOAA/NMFS. A sightings reporting form documents each sighting for archive files.
The web-based, interactive ArcGIS program allows the DMR to monitor and make available real-time sightings data of large whale distributions in Maine waters. Though currently uncorrected for effort, the website incorporates historical sightings data of all large whales as well as data generated daily by the Maine Sightings Network. The purpose of the program is to inform fishermen when whales are in areas that are being fished in order to take precautionary measures (i.e. keep a sharper look-out for whale-gear interaction, choose not to move new gear into the area until the whales have moved out, or choose to move gear out of the way). The GIS program can also be used to generate faxed, phoned, and emailed reports to industry members, buying stations, or other Network members who do not have access to the Web.
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STATE AND FEDERAL CONSERVATION PARTNERS
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW)
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was established to ensure that all species of wildlife and inland aquatic resources in the State of Maine are maintained and perpetuated for their intrinsic and ecological values, for their economic contribution, and for their recreational, scientific, and educational use by the people of the State. Pursuant to this mission, Department biologists conduct a variety of conservation and management activities including: surveys and inventories, population monitoring, and research; habitat management on public and private lands; and acquiring lands and public access sites. Additional Department mandates include establishing and enforcing rules and regulations governing fishing, hunting, and trapping; propagating and stocking fish; acquisition of wildlife management areas; registering recreational vehicles; safety programs for hunters, snowmobiles, and watercraft; and issuing licenses (hunting, fishing, trapping, guide, etc.) and permits. www.state.me.us/ifw/index.html
Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR)
The Maine Department of Marine Resources provides leadership in marine policy, the management of marine resources, the development of sustainable marine resource based business and the protection of the marine environment. The Bureau of Administration performs the administrative functions of the Department and advises government agencies concerned with development or activity in coastal waters. Duties also include coordination of public hearings for regulation changes and aquaculture leases following Administrative Procedures Act procedures. The Bureau of Marine Patrol is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the State and was established to protect, manage and conserve the renewable marine resources within the territorial limits of the State of Maine. The Bureau of Resource Management is engaged in marine education, shellfish sanitation and public health, and scientific research and monitoring to conserve, restore and manage the marine and estuarine resources of the State.
The Division of Community Resource Development is responsible for other focused programs including watershed development, primarily municipal soft-shelled management. www.maine.gov/dmr
Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission (MASC)
The mission of the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission is to protect, conserve, restore, manage and enhance Atlantic salmon habitat, populations, and sport fisheries within historical habitat in all (inland and tidal) waters of the State. To achieve its mission, MASC works closely with local, state, national, and international organizations and agencies to manage the wild Maine Atlantic salmon population. www.maine.gov/asc
Maine Department of Conservation (MDOC)
The Department of Conservation is a natural resource agency whose bureaus oversee the management, development, and protection of some of Maine's most special places: 17 million acres of forestland, 10.4 million acres of unorganized territory, 47 parks and historic sites and more than 480,000 acres of public reserved land. Created in 1973, the Department of Conservation's mission is to benefit the citizens, landowners, and users of the state's natural resources by promoting stewardship and ensuring responsible balanced use of Maine's land, forest, water, and mineral resources. www.state.me.us/doc/index.shtml
Bureau of Parks and Lands (BPL)
The Bureau of Parks and Lands within the Department of Conservation oversees the management, development and protection of 47 parks and historic sites and more than 480,000 acres of public reserved land in Maine. Public Reserved Lands are managed for multiple-uses under a "dominant use" system, which ensures that sensitive resources such as rare plants and backcountry recreation areas are not disturbed by more intensive management activities. There are 29 "units" of Public Reserved Lands ranging in size from 500 to more than 43,000 acres and many other smaller, scattered lots. www.maine.gov/doc/parks/programs/prl.html
Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP)
The Maine Natural Areas Program within the Maine Department of Conservation, serves Maine citizens as the most comprehensive source of information on the State’s important natural features. With landowner permission, the Program inventories lands that support rare and endangered plants and animals, rare natural communities, and outstanding examples of common natural communities. MNAP also provides objective and comprehensive information to equip decision-makers with the necessary tools to make informed and responsible decisions. The Maine Natural Areas Program is a part of an international network of natural heritage programs overseen by NatureServe. This network contributes important information on Maine's native plant and animal species whose ranges extend beyond Maine's borders. In addition, MNAP works closely with the Maine Field Office of The Nature Conservancy and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on conservation efforts. www.mainenaturalareas.org/index.php
Maine Forest Service (MFS)
Established in 1891, the Maine Forest Service's mission is to protect and enhance our state's forest resources through forest fire prevention; technical assistance; and education and outreach to the public, forest landowners, forest products processors and marketers, and municipalities. Located within the Department of Conservation, Maine Forest Service offices are found throughout the state and provide Maine's citizens with a wide range of forest-related services. www.maineforestservice.org
Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC)
The Maine Legislature created the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission within the Department of Conservation in 1971 to serve as the planning and zoning authority for the state’s townships, plantations, and unorganized areas. LURC has land use regulatory jurisdiction over these areas because they have no form of local government to administer land use controls, or they have chosen not to administer land use controls at the local level. The Commission was established primarily in response to a recreational building and land development boom in these areas during the late 1960’s. Its purpose is to extend the principles of planning and zoning to preserve public health, safety, and welfare; to encourage the well planned, multiple use of natural resources; to promote orderly development; and to protect natural and ecological values. The jurisdiction stretches over half the state, encompassing more than 10.4 million acres, and includes the largest contiguous undeveloped area in the Northeast. www.maine.gov/doc/lurc/about.html
Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP)
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for protecting and restoring Maine's natural resources and enforcing the state's environmental laws. The agency can trace its roots back to the Sanitary Water Board that was created in 1941. The purpose of that Board was to study, investigate, and recommend means of eliminating and preventing pollution in waters used for recreational purposes. The Board was renamed the Water Improvement Commission in 1951. In 1969, the Commission's title was abbreviated to the Environmental Improvement Commission. On July 1, 1972, legislation re-designated the Commission as the Board of Environmental Protection and created a new Department of Environmental Protection, consisting of a commissioner and three program bureaus: Air Quality, Land Quality Control, and Water Quality Control. Over the years, the Department has continued to evolve to its current organization consisting of the Board of Environmental Protection (appointed by the Governor), the Commissioner's Office and three bureaus which administer the Department's environmental programs: Air Quality, Land and Water Quality, and Remediation and Waste Management. www.maine.gov/dep/overview.htm
Maine State Planning Office - Coastal Program
The Maine Coastal Program was established in 1978. Administered by the Maine State Planning Office, the Coastal Program is a partnership among local, regional, and state agencies. It also collaborates with many private organizations, such as local land trusts and economic development groups. Through this networked program, no one agency or department is responsible for the entire coast. Rather, all partners help ensure its proper management. The result of this balanced approach is a healthier coast--and a better future for communities. Maine's coastal zone encompasses all political jurisdictions in Maine that have land along the coast or a tidal waterway, such as a river or bay. It includes 5,300 miles of coastline, encompassing 136 towns, two Plantations, 10 unorganized townships, and one Indian Reservation. Thousands of islands, 4,613 to be exact, are also in the coastal zone.
The zone encompasses Maine's territorial waters, which extend three miles out to sea. The Coastal Program undertakes or supports projects that promote sustainable economic development, encourage environmental stewardship and education, conserve and manage marine fisheries, reduce coastal hazards, and improve public access. www.state.me.us/spo/mcp
Maine State Planning Office - Land for Maine’s Future Program (LMF)
In 1987, the Maine Legislature created the Land for Maine’s Future Program to secure “the traditional Maine heritage of public access to Maine 's land and water resources or continued quality and availability of natural resources important to the interests and continued heritage of Maine people.” Two bonds supporting the LMF Program, a $35 million bond in 1987 and a $50 million bond in 1999, both passed by overwhelming margins. Most of the remaining bond funds are now committed to current land protection projects. Since its creation, the Program has assisted in the acquisition of more than 139,000 acres from willing sellers, with an additional 53,500 acres protected through conservation easements. Lands protected through the LMF Program include more than 323 miles of shorefront and 75 miles of rail-trails as well as valuable wildlife habitat, entire islands, and working forests and farms. The LMF Board , which administers the Program, consists of 11 members: six private citizens (appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate) and five commissioners representing the Departments of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Conservation, Marine Resources, Agriculture, and the State Planning Office. www.state.me.us/spo/lmf
Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT)
The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Environmental Office leads the MDOT in proactively integrating transportation and environmental objectives and innovations as the department plans, develops, operates and maintains Maine's transportation needs. MDOT has sought to address habitat issues in a number of ways, most notably partnering with the Beginning with Habitat program, and using Beginning with Habitat as a planning tool.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or Service)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission is, “working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people." The Service oversees five field units nationwide: National Wildlife Refuges, National Fish Hatcheries, Law Enforcement, Ecological Services offices, and Fishery Resources Offices. The Service's major responsibilities are for migratory birds, endangered species, certain marine mammals, and freshwater and anadromous fish. The USFWS administers 544 National Wildlife Refuges covering about 96 million acres. It operates 69 National Fish Hatcheries that produce 150 million fish annually. The agency administers the Endangered Species Act under which 1,848 species are listed as Endangered or Threatened. www.fws.gov
Gulf of Maine Program
The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program, established in 1991 as part of a nationwide network of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program offices, works with others to protect and restore nationally important fish and wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Maine watershed. Working in voluntary cooperative conservation partnerships, the Gulf of Maine Coastal Program has played a key role in:
- Permanently protecting more than 115,000 acres of high value fish and wildlife habitat through fee and easement acquisition -- including 48 nesting islands, 118 coastal wetlands and associated upland buffer sites, 16 uplands, and 60 areas adjacent to wild Atlantic salmon rivers;
- Protecting fish and wildlife habitat on two landscape-scale forest/wetland easement/acquisition projects totaling over one million acres that preclude residential development and ensure sustainable forestry;
- Restoring more than 5,700 acres of habitat for migratory birds -- including 78 coastal wetlands, 6 grasslands, and 12 nesting islands, completing 69 river restoration projects to benefit searun fish -- including the removal of 11 dams on rivers and the installation or repair of 14 fish passage facilities at existing dams; and
- Leveraging $54.5 million in federal and $95.7 million in non-federal funds for habitat protection and restoration.
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
The Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge was established to preserve ten important estuaries that are key points along migration routes of waterfowl and other migratory birds. During harsh winters, the refuge's marshes provide vital food and cover for waterfowl and other migrating birds at a time when inland waters are frozen. The refuge also supports Piping Plover, Least Terns, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles and other state and federally protected species. In addition to anadromous fish, many commercially and recreationally important fin and shellfish rely on these coastal wetlands as critical nursery areas. Refuge lands total approximately 4,700 acres in ten geographic units from Kittery to Cape Elizabeth, Maine. In 1989, the refuge boundary expanded to include salt marsh, freshwater wetlands and "critical edge" uplands around each of the nine divisions. In addition, the Biddeford Pool Division, the tenth division of the refuge, was created. This division serves as a key staging area in southern Maine for a large number and diversity of shorebirds. When it is completed, the refuge will be about 7,600 acres in size. www.fws.gov/rachelcarson
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge (formerly the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge) contains 47 offshore islands and three coastal parcels, totaling more than 7,400 acres. The complex spans more than 150 miles of Maine coastline and includes five national wildlife refuges -- Petit Manan, Cross Island, Franklin Island, Seal Island, and Pond Island. The Service's primary focus at Maine Coastal Islands Refuge is restoring and managing colonies of nesting seabirds. Refuge islands provide habitat for Common, Arctic, and Endangered Roseate Terns; Atlantic Puffins; Razorbills; Black Guillemots; Leach's Storm-petrels; Laughing Gulls; and Common Eiders. Over the last 25 years, the Service has worked to reverse the decline in these birds' populations. As a result, many species have returned to islands where they nested historically. www.fws.gov/northeast/petitmanan
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge
Moosehorn is the easternmost national wildlife refuge in the Atlantic flyway, a migration route that follows the east coast of North America. Moosehorn's primary purpose is to protect wildlife, including migrating waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, upland game birds, songbirds, and birds of prey. The refuge consists of two divisions. The Baring Division covers 17,200 acres and is located southwest of Calais, Maine. The 7,200-acre Edmunds Division sits between Dennysville and Whiting on U.S. Rt. 1 and borders the tidal waters of Cobscook Bay. Each division contains a National Wilderness Area managed to preserve their wild character. moosehorn.fws.gov
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Town of Milford, Penobscot County, Maine, approximately fourteen miles north of Bangor. The refuge protects the second-largest and most unique peatland in Maine. It contains several raised bogs or domes, separated from each other by extensive areas of streamside meadows. Sunkhaze Stream bisects the refuge along a northeast to southwest orientation and, with its six tributaries, creates a diversity of wetland communities. Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for three plants, seven birds, two mollusks, and three invertebrates listed as Endangered or Threatened by the State of Maine. In the early 1990s, the Benton and Sandy Stream Divisions were added to the refuge under the auspices of the 1990 Farm Bill. These small areas are respectively located in the towns of Benton and Unity, Maine. Both are managed for grassland-nesting birds, some of which are rare in Maine. www.sunkhaze.org
Acadia National Park (ANP)
Located on the rugged coast of Maine, Acadia National Park encompasses over 47,000 acres of granite-domed mountains, woodlands, lakes and ponds, and ocean shoreline. Such diverse habitats create striking scenery and make the park a haven for wildlife and plants. George B. Dorr, the park’s first superintendent, devoted 43 years of his life, energy, and family fortune to preserving the Acadia landscape. Thanks to the foresight of Dorr and others like him, Acadia became the first national park established east of the Mississippi.
Today, the park offers scientific, educational, and recreational activities unparalleled along the east coast. www.nps.gov/acad
National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries)
NOAA Fisheries is responsible for the management, conservation, and protection of living marine resources within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone. NOAA Fisheries also plays a supportive and advisory role in the management of living marine resources in coastal areas under state jurisdiction, provides scientific and policy leadership in the international arena, and implements international conservation and management measures as appropriate. Under this mission, the goal is to optimize the benefits of living marine resources to the Nation through sound science and management. This requires a balancing of multiple public needs and interests in the sustainable benefits and use of living marine resources, without compromising the long-term biological integrity of coastal and marine ecosystems. www.nmfs.noaa.gov/what/mission.htm
U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Since 1935, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (originally called the Soil Conservation Service) has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America's private landowners and managers conserve their soil, water, and other natural resources. NRCS offers a variety of incentives-based programming aimed at species and habitat conservation including: the Wetlands Reserve Program, Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, and Conservation Reserve Program, among others. NRCS provides assistance to landowners for developing and implementing conservation plans on their lands. The National Resources Inventory, a nationwide survey conducted annually by the NRCS, is the federal government’s principal source of information on the status, condition, and trends of soil, water, and related resources in the United States. www.nrcs.usda.gov
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