Happy March, friends.
Even if it doesn’t always feel like it when we step outside, spring is on the move. I’m reminded of this each year when I spot my first Tree Swallow, an early spring migrant. And while there may still be snow on the beaches, by the end of the month they’ll be hosting endangered Piping Plovers. In Maine, this really is the month when the natural world wakes up.
Things are heating up in Augusta, too. One of the most notable recent developments is Governor Mills’ indication of support for Central Maine Power’s transmission line project, which is set to run through Maine’s North Woods. Her support follows news of a benefit package offered by CMP, which includes some laudable benefits for the region and the state, including electric vehicle charging stations and support for residential energy efficiency programs.
However, from our perspective, the virtues of charging forward on this project remain unclear. Maine Audubon has long been a staunch supporter of renewable energy, believing that Maine must always look for opportunities to reduce our collective reliance on the fossil fuels that are causing climate change — but also that as we do, we must ensure those projects are sited and implemented responsibly to avoid or minimize the negative effects on wildlife and habitat. From where we stand, important questions about the actual climate benefits of the CMP transmission line project remain unanswered. What’s more, as we explained last fall, the negative effects this project would have on wildlife and habitat, including its significant fragmentation of wildlife habitat, have yet to be clearly addressed.
Important steps remain before the transmission line is formally permitted. In April, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) will hold a joint public hearing on issues such as whether the project unduly affects Maine’s natural resources. Maine Audubon will testify at that public hearing, and we encourage you to do the same. We will continue to challenge CMP and Maine’s regulatory agencies to do better to support Maine wildlife.
Supporting wildlife and habitat means making sure their interests are represented, and you can count on us to do that in all our work. In the halls of the state house, we’re also working on important efforts to reduce plastic pollution and strengthen Maine’s Endangered Species Act, among many other things! Be sure you’re signed up for our Action Alerts so you can stay apprised of these efforts.
In our sanctuaries, things are buzzing in the same way they always do this time of year: with fun, educational activities designed to help us all become better stewards of Maine’s environment. Will we see you at our Piping Plover Party in Saco on March 16? Participate in our turtle roadkill survey community science training at Fields Pond on March 30? Or make a gift to support our work on March 20 — the spring equinox — as part of our “Spring for Wildlife” one-day giving event?
However you choose to get involved, I hope to see you out and about and making a difference for Maine’s wildlife this month!