Author Archives: Debra Smith

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week

In 2018, emerald ash borer, a tiny wood-boring beetle from Asia, was found in northern Aroostook and York counties in Maine. Emerald ash borer (EAB) is a threat to all ash trees in North America, and has already done considerable damage to ash in forests and residential properties across the eastern US. In addition to comprising an important part of our forest ecosystem, the wood from ash trees is valuable for flooring, cabinetry, hockey sticks and baseball bats. Many streets in many Maine towns are lined with ash trees and ash trees have been planted in residential landscapes for shade and to increase property values. In Maine, brown ash is an important part of the Wabanaki creation story and culture, and has been used for generations for basket weaving. Keep reading on the Cumberland County Soul and Water District’s website.

Taxes too high?

New Gloucester has sought to keep the property tax rate low and many local residents are concerned about the upcoming increase in their taxes. Historically, New Gloucester’s tax rate has been the lowest among its neighbors. To put this in context, here are the rates for New Gloucester and surrounding towns from the most recent published mil rates (2016) on the state website.

Durham 16.49
Pownal 15.99
North Yarmouth 15.74
Gray 14.58
Poland 14.44
New Gloucester 13.46

Lewiston-Auburn Passenger Rail Service Plan Project

At a workshop on March 27th, members of the planning group that has been conducting a two-phase study examining a potential passenger line between Lewiston-Auburn and Portland presented their work so far, and solicited input from the audience. They have been working with a transportation planning consultant. After conducting a survey of potential ridership and confirming adequate demand for rail service, they identified three possible route options that would use existing rail infrastructure (the Pan Am and St Lawrence and Atlantic rail lines), identified possible technology and estimated costs for each option. Planned stations would be in downtown Lewiston, Turnpike exit 75, either Royal or Yarmouth Junction, and Portland. Funding for such a large infrastructure project would come from several sources, primarily federal. Operating costs would be offset by revenue from ticket sales (probably $6-10/ ticket).

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The spring equinox is Wednesday: 7 things to know about the first day of spring

A brief, scientific guide to the first day of spring.

The vernal equinox is upon us: On Wednesday, March 20, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will experience an equal amount of daylight. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of spring, with daylight hours continuing to lengthen until the summer solstice in June. (Google is marking the first day of spring with a Google Doodle.) For those south of the equator, it’s the beginning of autumn. Keep reading Brian Resnick’s article on VOX.

Craft/vendor fair at AMVETS Saturday

Is the Intervale a bog?

A few days ago, we shared a link to a story in the Portland Press Herald about three hunters being rescued from a local bog. Is the Intervale a bog, I wondered? It seems more like a marsh— Of course, I googled it and here’s what I found:

The world’s wetlands are ecosystems in themselves, and are defined by the flora and fauna they support. Marshes are nutrient-rich wetlands that support a variety of reeds and grasses, while swamps are defined by their ability to support woody plants and trees. Bogs are characterized by their poor soil and high peat content, while fens have less peat and more plant life than a bog. Keep reading