Salmon Eggs have Arrived in the Schools
In the Annual Fish Friends program, Tom King of the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, along with volunteer David Greeley and educator Jenni Judkins, delivered Atlantic salmon eggs to twelve local schools the first week of March. Ten schools received 200 “eyed” salmon eggs from Green Lake National Fish Hatchery (GLNFH) in Ellsworth, and two schools received eggs from Craig Brook National Fish National (CBNFH) in East Orland. The salmon eggs were set into artificial egg incubation units in each classroom. The eggs received are "eyed-up”, which means they will have grown to the stage of development when the eyes are visible through the egg shell. At this stage they can be handled safely, and thus delivered to the schools without loss or danger of injury.
When the eggs are received, the temperature for the Atlantic salmon egg incubation unit is slightly over freezing- about 35 degrees F (1.5 degrees C). This is the same temperature as our ice-bound Maine streams in the winter. At these low temperatures, Atlantic salmon egg development is slow. With the onset of spring, temperatures in the natural world begin to rise, and the eggs begin to grow faster. Beginning in April, the schools will need to duplicate the natural spring temperature rise by producing an artificial spring in the incubation tanks. This is in preparation for the young salmon fry release in May.
The release place for the ten schools with GLNFH eggs is Wescot Stream, the only undammed tributary of the Passagassawaukeag River. The two schools with CBNFH eggs will release in the Sheepscot River. This is an exciting experience for the students who have learned about and diligently cared for the Atlantic salmon from egg to fry stage.
Family Math Night Combines, Pizza, Puzzles, Parents, and Pupils
On February 27, Captain Albert Stevens School (CASS) in Belfast hosted a Family Math Night for students and parents of RSU #71 elementary schools. The lunchroom and the library were filled and buzzing with dozens of students and their parents. Math learning activities included shopping for groceries; laying out a house foundation; playing Mancala; tossing bean bags and keeping score; cards, dice, and board games; counting games for the youngest; telling time and temperature; math stories which gently taught fractions, decimals, and other functions; brain teasers with numbers; statistics taught with ball tossing and spinners; beehive geometry; Tangram puzzles, and more.
The evening began with a pizza supper provided by the CASS Parent-Teacher Group, and was attended by 39 students and 30 parents. The evening ended with a parent gathering to evaluate the process while students attended a Math Magic Show. At the end, a parent remarked, “I dragged my child to this, and was pleasantly surprised to see he got totally engaged in the games.” Others said they planned to continue playing math games at home.
The game stations were run by 19 volunteers from the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, Penobscot Bay Stewards, and Waldo County Literacy Volunteers.
“I was completely impressed with the volunteers, their enthusiasm and the depth of the questions they were asking. It was as if they had been working with kids their whole lives. (Which, I guess was true for some of them; I found there were some retired teachers helping out.) Their excitement was contagious, drawing the students in and making for an evening that was the perfect combination of learning and fun.” ~Principal Glen Widmer
Monthly Birding from the Footbridge
by Ron Harrell
On Feb. 12 Gary Gulezian and I were joined by at least 10-12 people, not counting casual passersby who only stopped to take a quick look in our scopes.
We saw 12 species, totaling 237 individual birds. The highlights were 2 peregrine falcons perched on the water pipe on the Rt. 1 bridge, an Iceland gull, and a lesser black-backed gull. Despite the frigid temperatures and wind, the people turnout was great and we saw some nice birds. There is now a group of regulars that turn out each month, and we all have a good time. Gary and I suspect that at least one of the peregrines is a winter resident this year.
There are two more opportunities this winter: March 12 and April 9, from 8:00-10:00. We’ll start up again in September.
Check Outings for birding opportunities with the BBWC!
Coalition Thanks 180 Volunteers
On January 17, 2019, during the Annual Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition Meeting and Program, the Board of Directors gave a shout-out to over 180 volunteers, who helped with various initiatives during 2018.
A group of enthusiastic members and volunteers socialized, over refreshments, to renew old friendships and meet new people before the program began. As with all BBWC programs, the general public was also invited.
President Ernie Cooper welcomed the group and introduced a slide presentation that highlighted 2018 BBWC activities. Volunteers provided support to programs such as: the Penobscot Bay Stewards (2019 applications open on Feb. 1st); the Pen Bay Stewards Alumni Association; Fish Friends (the salmon egg rearing program in 12 local schools); the monthly Harbor Bird Watch Program; the Natural Literacy Education Program in local schools; Storm Surge Sensing in 7 mid-coast harbors, Water Quality monitoring in Belfast Bay, building and maintaining local trails (including the replacement of old bog bridges on the Little River Community Trail); and numerous other programs, outings, and workshops.
In addition to individual efforts, two groups of volunteers deserving recognition were the team from Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center and high school students from The Waldo County Technical Center.
The BBWC Board of Directors expressed gratitude to the many people who work for watershed conservation through research, community-building, and education, the 3-pronged mission of the coalition.
Winter Birds of the Belfast Bay Watershed
On December 29, the 2018 Christmas Bird Count for the Belfast sector, sponsored by the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, was conducted by 29 volunteers. They divided up the territory, a 15-mile diameter circle from the Belfast Bay to Stockton, Frankfort , Monroe, and Waldo. The center of the circle is Mt. Waldo. Watchers combed their sections all day tallying birds by species. For once, the weather was mild and partly sunny, and participants didn’t feel threatened to be out all day.
Results added up to 61 species seen, totaling 4962 individual birds, 1189 of which were herring gulls.
Some less common sightings on land included a northern shrike, northern mockingbird, Carolina wren, 2 northern flickers, 2 Coopers hawks, and 23 evening grosbeaks. On the bay, a peregrine falcon, a kingfisher, 2 wood ducks, 2 great black-backed gulls, 2 black guillemots, 5 razorbills, and 6 red-throated loons. Partridges were seen, but not in a pear tree!
The Christmas Bird Count began in 1900 aiming to reverse the trend of going out on Christmas Day and shooting birds. It indeed caught on, never missing a year of the 20th century and still continuing, now happening all over the world. Maine has 29 count circles with individual counts scheduled on different days, between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, to allow participation in more than one count.
To join the team, contact Seth Benz at sbenz@SchoodicInstitute.org .
New Bog Bridges for Belfast’s Little River Community Trail
Bill Armstrong (on the left) and Tom Murphy moving 12 ft. cedar planks into the upper portion of the Little River Trail (photos by Gene Randall).
A grant from the Maine Community Foundation has enabled the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition (BBWC) to purchase enough cedar planks to replace most of the 180 aging and breaking bog bridges along the 5-mile trail through Belfast.
A team of volunteers from the Waldo County Reentry Center has been busy helping BBWC’s Trail Crew carry the planks into place all along the trail, which runs from the Belfast Water District on Rt. 1 to the University of Maine Hutchinson Center.
Started at the turn of the current century, the first mile went from the Water District to the Perkins Road. In 2005, a Project Canopy grant from the Maine Forest Service allowed BBWC to extend the trail to the Walsh Ball Fields on Rt. 52. Students from Troy Howard Middle School helped with the project. The final stretch to the Hutchinson Center was built with BBWC funds. The trail has been continuously maintained by the Belfast Bay Watershed Trail Crew, founded by Skip Pendleton and currently headed up by David Bond and Bill Armstrong.
Our community enjoys the trail due to the generosity of private landowners, the City of Belfast, Waldo County, and the Belfast Water District. The new bridges will continue its enjoyment.
Storm Surge Sensing
BBWC volunteer Dave Bond collects data from a storm surge sensor in Belfast Harbor.
On July 19, 2018, University of Maine researchers presented their first-year findings about mid-coast storm surge magnitudes to a local audience at the Hutchinson Center in Belfast. This is a public awareness initiative along with a data collection process, collecting pressure readings every second, ongoing. Volunteers download data each month from the sensors placed along the coast. They email the data to the UMaine researchers: Dr. Kim Huguenard, Dr. Laura Rickard and graduate students. Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition volunteers Dave Bond and John Tipping have monitored in 2017-18. They will continue, adding other volunteers to expand the data points.
The program focused on the two “bomb cyclone” events of October 30 and January 4. A bomb cyclone event is defined by a drop of 24 millibars of barometric pressure in 24 hours or less.
Normal high tide + storm surge increment = storm tide height of the event.
According to the researchers, the October 30 event left more CMP customers without power than the Ice Storm of ’98. The January 4 event caused the third highest tide on record in Portland, in spite of occurring at mid-tide ebbing, with a north wind countering the surge. Other coastal communities remember it as well.
Data were collected in 3 estuaries: the Penobscot River, Bagaduce River, and Bass Harbor/Southwest Harbor, chosen for their diversity of configuration. Much valuable information has been gleaned so far, to help coastal town planners and emergency preparedness services. Visit the project's website to learn more SensingStormSurge.acg.maine.edu .
To volunteer for the ongoing project, please email email@example.com . Besides monitoring (data collection), there are other volunteer opportunities, including hosting local presentations in coastal communities.
Belfast Co-op Donation to BBWC
BBWC gratefully accepted our community’s donations, through the Co-op’s Round Up Program (Common Cents), for the month of July 2018 totalling over $4,200. These contributions will enable the BBWC to continue their work to support conservation and stewardship of the Belfast Bay watershed through outings, programs, research, and education.
BBWC Receives an MCF Grant for Little River Trail Bridge Restorations
The Belfast Bay Water Coalition (BBWC) has received a grant from the Maine Community Foundation to repair aging bog bridges on the Little River Community Trail.
Time and weather have taken their toll on many of the bog bridges that were built out of hemlock 10-15 years ago. These bog bridges will be replaced with cedar planks and are expected to last much longer.
A $5,300 Maine Community Foundation Grant will be a big help to pay for the wood and hardware that is needed for repairs to about 90 bog bridges. The BBWC trail crew will provide the tools and labor for the repairs and hope to have many of the bog bridges repaired or replaced by the end of the year.
This repair effort will make the Little River Community trails safer and more accessible, leading to more outdoor actives for all, for a long time.
The City of Belfast has an opportunity for a new business, Nordic Aquafarms, which is causing concern to many citizens of Belfast and the surrounding communities. Many of the questions and concerns cannot be answered at this time. Rezoning of land is the first of many steps the City and Nordic Aquafarms have pursued. Once Nordic Aquafarms does more on-site investigation, additional information should be available regarding what they plan to do.
Several BBWC Board members have been asked by you, our membership, “Where does BBWC stand on Nordic Aquafarms building the largest indoor salmon farm in the world, in Belfast?” At our last BBWC board meeting this issue was addressed and the following conclusions were reached:
1) The BBWC board has no position at this time. We feel that too little is known now to make a statement.
2) We are a non-profit organization. We are looking into the legality of taking a position either for or against Nordic Aquafarms. Our mission statement is the following: “The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition supports conservation and stewardship of natural and public resources of the Belfast Bay watershed through research, community-building, and education.”
As the process unfolds for Nordic Aquafarms to establish a water supply, obtain a discharge permit, and meet other DEP regulations, the BBWC board will continue to follow the course of events, and will keep the membership updated as to BBWC’s position in the future.
On another matter, please remember that summer is fast approaching and trail maintenance is needed— not only the Little River Trail, but also all the great properties that Coastal Mountains Land Trust (CMLT) is responsible for. CMLT is striving to raise $75,000 for the Jo & Skip Pendleton Stewardship Fund for a Waldo County stewardship intern. We anticipate this person will be working on trails throughout greater Belfast, not just on Land Trust land. I encourage folks donate to the Stewardship fund online.
Thank You for your continued support.
Tom King, President, BBWC
Skip Pendleton, Forever Young
The Belfast community and Waldo County lost a giant with Skip Pendleton’s passing on September 24. Skip was important to so many people and organizations, including the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition.
After retirement, Skip and his wife Jo were among the founders of the Passy Coalition in the 1990s, which morphed into the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition in 2004, with Skip as our first president. His strong leadership guided the development of our three arms: research, education, and community- building.
A tireless advocate for the natural world, Skip spoke out often at City Council and other community meetings, always with humility and respect, winning people to his philosophy of stewardship and caring. Skip was a bridge-builder in society as well as on the ground as he organized trail crews to establish paths, bridges where needed, throughout the mid-coast area. He was the driving force and perpetual steward of the Little River Community Trail, hundreds of miles of trails and bridges on Coastal Mountains Land Trust preserves, and in his last years, the Hills to Sea Trail, a 47-mile trail from Unity to Belfast.
Skip thought up and led public outings for years to show people the special places in and out of Waldo County, some places that no one else would have known about. He was eager to share these trails and paddles with everyone in hopes of spreading the joy of being outdoors in the “Real World” and the ethic of caring for its future.
The legacy Skip has left is all around us. However, what most endeared Skip to so many of us was his youthful energy for exploring nature, his gentle, peaceful spirit, his sense of what honestly matters in life, his deep appreciation of each individual he knew and of the many places he loved.
Cloe Chunn on Good Morning Belfast, July 17, 2018