Frenchman Bay Partners
Executive Committee Meeting Minutes
September 16, 2014 at 3 pm
Davis Classroom on the MDIBL campus
Attendees: Jane Disney, Bob Deforrest, Anna Farrell, Jirias Charabati, Duncan Bailey, Theo de Koning, Chris Petersen, Bridie McGreavy
The group gave introductions.
- Committee Updates
Chris reported that they did some smelt surveys this past spring. Downeast Salmon Federation did some work around Frenchman Bay; we are waiting on the data. Saw one smelt and no eggs in all the sampling locations, trying to fill in some blanks. We will have data on smelt to share within the next couple of months. Chris advised that the easiest way to survey for smelt is to observe elver nets, because they lay their eggs on the nets. He is exploring how to work with elver fishermen for surveying for smelt. Bob did surveys for alewives in Flanders stream, still waiting on numbers. Chris participated in the Somesville fish ladder surveys; numbers were high, in the 35,000 range, consistent with other survey years.
Jane asked about goals related to Jones and Morancy streams. Chris and Bob walked the length of Morancy and identified one problematic spot with a beaver dam. Looks like it could sustain a run, would need to talk to Claire Enterline from DMR and do some stocking from the Union River into Morancy Pond. This would require some meetings with the Homeowners Association around Morancy Pond.
Jane asked question about archiving. How do we begin to document the progress we are making? Chris noted that the starting point is the meeting minutes. We discussed the possibility of using a template. Jane proposed that we have an annual report. Bridie suggested using the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership Report as a model. We will try to have a draft of committee technical reports for the annual meeting in early 2015.
A Davis Foundation grant supported Charlie Wray’s work, following up on the Procter study in the early 1900s. The data generated on the benthic organisms from then and now are in a grant report. This could be included in a technical report for our year end document. Diver Ed has a lot of knowledge about benthic habitats and we want to get him involved. We want to pay Eddie to go through his footage so it can get documented and archived. We need to write a grant proposal for this.
Chris mentioned that the rotational scallop closure will lift this year in December. There have been “two off”. It is coming into its “one on”. This December, when scallop season opens, Frenchman Bay is going to be open. Chris showed a map of the limited places in Maine that will be open. That might put pressure on Frenchman Bay. Theo mentioned that some dragging may occur in eel grass beds, generally doesn’t happen in the intertidal but could be some overlap with eel grass restoration areas. Jane will follow up with DMR about our agreement with mussel harvesters.
Anna described plans for the newsletter and updates for social media. There will be an article on the eelgrass project and related green crab work. We are planning to feature AmeriCorps and Maine Conservation Corps. We want a general update from each of the conservation targets. We have a goal of getting this out before November 1st.
With social media, Anna has been keeping up with Facebook posts. Committee members need to send things to Anna to post. COA’s marine biology class has a Facebook page. Jane felt that there might be perception that there was not a lot going on because we were not actively using the electronic communication.
We had a discussion about how to increase our posts on Facebook. We do have a Twitter account, but we are not actively using it and it needs to be continuously updated for it to be effective.
Bridie shared updates on 610 Project, including the redesigned Frenchman Bay Regional Shellfish Committee website. The Green Crab Control project made progress with purchasing crab traps, testing how the traps fish, and collecting some data about patterns in green crabs and potential correlations with eel grass as well. Jane can add green crab data from a 4 day abundance study to the reporting out on that grant. Bridie has also started a 3-town comparison of the municipal shellfish management program.
Jane reported out on the 9-3-14 committee meeting, status of Army Corps Grant and Future Plans. She reported that eelgrass abundance and tensile strength of plants varies around MDI. There is something different going on west side of the Bar as compared to Stave island and East side of the Bar. We are not sure what the factors are that influence differences at these sites. Strength and density do not correlate with type or abundance of the crabs. There are no clear patterns. Seedlings are coming up at Hadley Point and Berry Cove and Jordan River. Plants seem to be coming up from rhizomes at Berry Cove.
We are now seeing Ruppia maritina, another form of seagrass that is coming up at Hadley Point, eventually Zostera may outcompete Ruppia in subtidal areas.
Update on Army Corps grant: our local agreement with harvesters wasn’t enough protection for restoration sites. Army Corps will not release funding. After talking with Senator Collins’ office, this is not going to happen without a change in the statute. Senator Sheehan’s and Collins’ offices made some inquiries, there are dozens of projects all over the country that have happened like this. There is a long history where the funds were never released because of technicalities. Not sure that funding will ever come through. TNC did give $5,000 to MDIBL to cover some costs incurred in summer 2014. We are inquiring as to whether there is anyone at the state level who could co-sign the cooperative agreement with Army Corps so funds can be released. We may wait until after November elections to pursue this topic and others.
Jane wants to pursue a conversation at the State level about how what we are doing could be endorsed at the state level. We need to strategize the best approach and with whom.
One thing that was learned this summer, scaled up eelgrass restoration is difficult, in part because we are tied to the low tides. We want to explore ways to get away from low tide work. No one at the Community Environmental Health Lab is a diver. We found a process in Nova Scotia where they tied eel grass to washers. We want to explore other types of weights, like a ceramic prototype. Still planning on restoration next summer but after that may step back and watch what happens for the next five years.
Chris brought up the Quinby lease site in Jordan River which is for urchins. It seems like this lease application will go through without issue. It will not interfere with eelgrass restoration efforts—it is deeper in the channel.
- Anecdotal Data Portal for Frenchman Bay (Anecdata.org)
Duncan shared and update on Anecdata, a data collection website that can be used for a wide range of projects. Duncan showed the multiple features that are available for this site, which he created as part of his work with the Community Environmental Health Laboratory at MDIBL. The site has options to upload photos and video, map the site where observations were made. Data can be downloaded in excel, shapefiles can be downloaded for GIS mapping.
Jane is interested in crowd-sourcing turbidity data for Frenchman Bay. This may help to inform the NEST project at UMaine. Chris asked about publishing data, issues with data access and sharing. We may be able to have a future set-up where participants could pay to make their data private. Encourages people to report data and report it repeatedly. We are looking for more funding to keep it going. Eelgrass in Maine evolved into Anecdata; we are starting to think about more regional, global, other forms of data.
- NOAA B-Wet Grant due Oct. 31st
These grants are intended for K-12 watershed work with hands on type opportunities for kids. Jane is going to go for $80,000/yr. with a 3 year grant. The focus will be on conservation targets to link up with schools for specific conservation targets. All of the schools would manage their data with Anecdata. Want to build a case study with using Anecdata and align with our Frenchman Bay Plan. Jane is interested in connecting across our institutions to strengthen the application. Next step is to start thinking about the budget components.
- Ecosystems Services Values (ESV) Decision Support Tool for Frenchman Bay
We are moving ahead with the Walker grant ESV decision support tool with Brian Reilly, Cardo/Entrix and Kathleen Bell and students, University of Maine. We will bring together stakeholders around the Bay, those most influential with decision making about business and real estate. This is a way of engaging stakeholders and talking about this concept of ESV. Brian and his partner, Doug McNair have a methodology that assigns weighted value or prioritization based on ecosystem services. The development of ordinances could be a process where people get to weigh in on how they value these services.
We are convening a stakeholder group in November, date TBD. We are going to do a luncheon and evening workshop with two different opportunities for people to participate. We are Interested in connecting with Rotary and Chamber of Commerce—we want to work with them to identify businesses who would be most likely to engage with us.