March 12th, 2014

Published by Anna Farrell on

Frenchman Bay Partners Executive Committee Meeting

Location: Davis classroom on the MDIBL campus

Date: Wednesday March 12, 2014

MINUTES 

Present:  Jane Disney, Fiona de Koning, Bob DeForrest, Duncan Bailey,

On conference call:  Bridie McGreavy, Chris Petersen

1. Recap of Next Steps from 2-2-14 Annual Meeting

  1. Getting the Benthic Habitats committee up and running

This may require identifying areas we can study over time, figuring out how harvesting is affecting the bottom of FrenchmanBay, and holding an area management conversation on a bay-wide level. This means bringing different groups together and creating time and space for discussions facilitated by Frenchman Bay Partners

We discussed that we need a lead person to get this committee up and running.  There is a lot of momentum after the annual meeting that had a focus on benthic habitats.  Bridie suggested that we get in touch with Rick Wahle;  he pioneered a method to sample baby lobsters and may have thoughts on what we should focus on here in Frenchman Bay.  Does he want to be on the Benthic Committee?  Who else might want to be on that committee?

  1. Focus of Diadromous Fish Committee

Our goals will remain focused on alewives in Jones and Morancy stream.  We are not addressing issues related to elver harvesting at this time.

We discussed that alewives are accepted target species for dam removal and culvert maintenance.  Whatever we do to improve passage for alewives will benefit other diadromous fishes like elvers and smelt.

  1. Rockweed harvesting in FrenchmanBay

The Communications Committee was charged with the task of posting relevant events/meetings/information regarding issues like rockweed harvesting, so Frenchman Bay Partners can follow the debate.

We discussed that because there has been some confusion for new members about the scope and focus of the Frenchman Bay Partners, it is important that we communicate with new members that we have been through a process and have a focus on particular conservation targets.  We do need to think about addressing emergent concerns, but can also recommend an associated organization to go to for more information.

The question was raised: How do we help partners find other partners interested in same thing?

Perhaps this can be accomplished through the User Profile on the FBP website; currently, nobody uses it.  Duncan could set it up so it could search for people with same interests.

We could target municipal liaisons, asking them to update their profiles in such a way as to share municipal interests.

  1. The Maine Island Trail Association would like to see a more collaborative approach on cleaning up the Frenchman Bay Region.

A spring cleanup, in addition to the existing fall cleanup, was suggested. A Clean Waters, Clean Shores meeting was held at the Maine Coast Heritage Trust office on March 4, 2014 at 11AM.  Bob DeForrest was not able to attend this meeting.  Jane received the minutes of the meeting, and the clean-up efforts seem focused on outer islands.  Marine debris was not identified as a direct threat to the conservation targets we are focusing on.  There is an emphasis on outer islands; in terms of coastal clean-up activities, perhaps when the emphasis moves onto mudflats or benthic clean-ups, the partners will take a more active role.

  1. Follow up on the initial Market Based Approach to conservation conversation.

Frenchman Bay Partners may play a role in facilitating further conversations regarding the market based approaches to conservation.

2. Committee Updates

a) Market Based Approaches (MBA) Work Group

Jane reported that she is working with Brian Reilly and Doug McNair of the environmental consulting firm Cardno/Entrix and Kathleen Bell from University of Maine on a proposal to the Alex C. Walker Foundation to create an Ecosystem Services Value Decision Making Tool for Frenchman Bay.  There is a phone conference on Friday March 21st; Bob DeForrest expressed an interest in participating in the call and following the progress of this initiative.

b) Diadromous Fishes:

Update—Chris Petersen

Chris Petersen informed the group of the direction the committee is taking.  Elver over harvesting is hard to understand.  You want to know how many adults will be kept from going out.  What affect is there on adult populations?  Little is known.  However, understanding the movement and management of other diadromous fishes might help to inform the process with other species.   On March 28th Clare Enterline, from Maine DMR, will be teaching some partners how how to do surveys for smelt.  There will be some emerging data for around Frenchman Bay.  Smelt is an important focus right now; as  effective Friday, the fishery is closed Kittery to Stonington.

Another focus of the committee is a dam in Kilkenny Stream, which does not lead to a lake, so it may not be important for alewives, but may be important for sea run brook trout.  The committee is working with Dwayne Shaw, in collaboration with DownEast Salmon Federation on this project.

Bob and Chris talked and will go out and look at the dam and do a survey of Morancy Stream this spring.

They will take pictures and put on the FBP website.  Somes Pond watershed is a model for looking at stream restoration.  Chris will have students helping in Somes stream looking at alewife run.  It is anticipated that 50,000 alewives will be  coming up that stream this spring.  There is a need to transition to electronic counters. In  Flanders stream in the Frenchman Bay Watershed, there is some data on alewife runs from last year.  Based on the number, the run increased 50% with the new open culvert model.  This suggests that the alewife run is improving.

c) Communications:

Update— Anna Farrell or Jane Disney

Anna Farrell was at at week-long training session for the AmeriCorps program, so Jane provided an update.  Anna has started work on the next newsletter.  It should go out in April.  It will highlight the annual meeting.

The executive committee suggested that smelt information related to the March 28th training session could go into Newletter.  Chris Petersen will take pictures and provide a summary.  In terms of the Flanders Stream Project, the newsletter could be used to recruit people to do counts.

Peggy Forster and Jack Russell, who attended the annual meeting, expressed an interest in helping with communications.  Perhaps we should hold a meeting of the communications committee and invite these two to participate.

The Communications Committee should also work on a document that goes to new members when they sign up.  Jane is meeting with the Bar Harbor Rotary Club on April 9th to share with them what is going on at FBP and invite members to join FBP.

Bridie wrote an article for  the Bridgeton News that will be a great starting point for this communication with new partners.

d) Mudflats:

Update—Bridie McGreavy on Project 610 and new MCF grant: Frenchman Bay Green Crab Control Project

Bridie reported that the advisory group worked on the budget at the last advisory meeting.  There is several thousand left in the original MCF budget.   Steve Follett will work with Duncan and Jordan to create a website for the Regional Shellfish Committee to increase their capacity to do everything from scheduling Conservation Events, to sharing maps of conservation closure areas, fundraise for projects, plan a watershed survey to open closed clam flats etc.

Jim Fisher from HCPC will  be involved in making maps for the committee.  There is a need for:

  • Maps at meetings
  • Maps showing longer term closures
  • Map that will go out with licenses showing conservation areas
  • Building Capacity for Watershed Surveys

Jim Norris, Joe Porada, Steve Follett, Paul Davis are all involved in trying to build the capacity of the Regional Shellfish Committee to open closed clam flats:  Project 610

Martin and Weir cove:  are prioritized areas for getting clam flats open.  There are more clams in there.  Martin might be related to beavers in the watershed.  Therefore, Weir Cove may be the best starting point.  The advisory group discussed collecting and analyzing water samples.  Chris Petersen will work with his students and/or his summer interns, hired through the EPSCOR NEST project or other grants to find out what the DMR data look like first.

Related to this effort, Bridie worked with the Regional Shellfish Committee to submit another grant for green crab eradication and to research the impact of increased trapping on clam populations.

Just like the 610 project, writing this grant was a good partner effort.

Other thing happening with mudflats: EPSCOR NEST Project:

Frenchman Bay one of the things they are looking at.  The “Modeler Guys”, what do they need in terms of data? They want a snapshot of water quality along shorelines, temperature, conductivity data, combined with bacterial data–that would be great.  May 15 they are doing a lot of surveys. They are trying to get people to go along the shore and collect more water quality data.  Simple water samples.  And there is interest in setting another date in June.  AP tests are done at MDI High School, there may be a bunch of idle students who can help with collecting water quality data.    This EPSCOR research group is interested in examining some of the basic rules like if it rains two inches you close down the shoreline.  They want to understand nutrient and bacterial relationships.  The will take some large snapshots.  And they may deploy some long term monitoring equipment.  Hobo sensors are going to be deployed.  Jane commented that Hobo sensors for temperature and light are being deployed by the Community Environmental Health Laboratory as well, so we need to be communicating with each other about what we are sampling for and where we are sampling, and why.  The reason that May 15 was chosen for a large scale water monitoring event is because Meggan Dwyer at DMR has a major sampling day planned, so that gives us 30 data points to start with.  It was asked if Jane could also run Enterococcus. She replied that this is something that Maine Healthy Beaches would have to give the go-ahead for….all Enterococcus supplies are provided to the Community Environmental Health Laboratory through the Maine Healthy Beaches Program.  The Maine Healthy Beaches Program is part of the EPSCOR NEST grant, and should be on board with all these plans.

Frank Dorsey of Friends of Taunton Bay, an new FBP, approached Chris Petersen to see if a COA student is available to work on Taunton Bay.  They will provide $2,000 + $2,000 will be provided through a COA grant to have a student working in Frenchman Bay and Taunton Bay.  Eelgrass and green crab interactions will be the focus of the student research.

There will be a presentation and eelgrass discussion for Thursday March 20th 5 pm at Gordon’s Wharf.

e) Eelgrass:

Update—Jane Disney on 1-13-14 committee meeting and Army Corps Grant and Plans for Summer

Jane reported on Army Corps Grant, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 5-star grant, volunteer opportunities, etc.  The Eelgrass Committee met in January and planned out six restoration events.  The Army Corps is hesitating on signing the grant contract because the state of Maine cannot guarantee the long term protection of the eelgrass restoration areas.  Local mussel harvesters signed an agreement to refrain from dragging in these areas, which we hope will be enough guarantee of long term protection of these areas.  Nonetheless, since the NFWF 5-star grant has been extended through 2014, there will be at least full scale restoration efforts in Berry Cove, around Thomas Island and at Hadley Point.  Should the Army Corps contract get finalized in time, there will also be restoration of eelgrass in Jordan River and in Goose Cove.  Jane reported that after analyzing water quality data for 2010-2013, she found that silica is has been steadily declining and suggested that this could have contributed to eelgrass loss over the last year.  Silica may play a role in strengthening plant cell walls.  In low silica conditions, eelgrass might  be more susceptible to green crab damage.  This summer, the eelgrass restoration effort will include fencing to impede damage by green crabs.  This may give the plants time to get established.  The low silica could be from population blooms of diatoms, from shifts in offshore nutrient rich currents that would normally bring silica into the bay, from a decrease in weathering of silica rich rocks due to low rainfall or a combination of these factors.  Jane reported that she reviewed rainfall data, and that does not seem to explain the low silica levels.  Her collaborator, Kate Hubbard, who is affiliated with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute suspects offshore water currents.  It looks as if there may be a shift again this summer, bringing colder nutrient rich water into Frenchman Bay, which could bode well for eelgrass.  Charlie Phippen, the harbormaster, reported seeing eelgrass at the Hadley Point Boat Ramp recently.  He also reported that he has been seeing eider ducks and loons feeding on green crabs around the town docks.  He suggested that these sea birds may play a role in green crab population dynamics.

3.  Anecdotal Data Portal for Frenchman Bay (Next Gen www.eelgrassinmaine.org)

Update:  Duncan Bailey showed the site anecdata.org  He has created a novel data portal where people can put a pin on a map and report an observation.  He will be launching the portal at the Acadia National Park Science Symposium on April 16th.  He will have a poster presentation highlighting his work.  He did  a live demonstration, during which committee members were able to sign up and begin using the site.  Everyone agreed that the potential for the site to direct research and further observations held a lot of promise for addressing issues arising in the bay and elsewhere around Maine.  Jane gave the example of disappearing eelgrass in Maquoit Bay:  eelgrass was missing for a couple of years before eelgrass researchers found out about it, although local people were noticing the decline.  We discussed populating the site with observations reported by Ed Monat at the Annual Meeting, but agreed that we should ask for Ed’s permission.

As an aside, we discussed the fact that the speakers at the Annual Meeting were filmed and that videos of their presentations were posted to You Tube.  We agreed that we should ask permission before presentations are posted on-line.

4. Other Business

 For Discussion:

Participation of stakeholders in the Frenchman Bay Partner Process:  We agreed that all Executive Committee Meetings of the Frenchman Bay Partners are open public meetings and anyone can attend.  We will post them on the website and Facebook as events.

Chris Petersen reported out on a recent meeting by COA on a research plan for Northeast Creek.

There well be long term monitoring.  Geology, water monitoring stations, flow, data similar to what UMaine group collects, plant census work, deer, bird, work etc.

The program will not happen during summer; it is an Academic Year program.

There may be some bacteria work on the creek, Chris’ students concluded that there are multiple sources, and no obvious single source of contamination, so what further work will be done to help to open closed clam flats at the mouth of Northeast Creek is uncertain.

Bridie and Chris shared that there was and EPSCOR NEST meeting, they trialed the sewage tracking dogs in New Hampshire.  The dogs immediately found several sources.  These dogs may be a solution in Northeast Creek.  Having the dogs involved is a good way to raise public awareness and educate the public about pollution issues in watersheds.