A Local Look at Our Changing Climate

The Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and Cathance River Education Alliance are partnering on a yearlong program of lectures and field trips to share stories of understanding and hope in a changing climate. With the program, A Local Look at Our Changing Climate, the two local organizations hope to provide in simple terms some insight into how climate change is affecting mid-coast Maine.Long logo

“While there is a host of complex data, policies, and technologies that address global climate change,” says Cathance River Education Alliance Executive Director Matt Dubel, “this series will build community understanding of what change looks like right here, in our own back yards. And it will highlight what some people in the mid-coast region are doing to adapt and make a difference.” He adds that the series will also give people information about actions they can take to make the region more resilient in the face of change.

The goal of the series is to build community confidence that individuals can positively impact the future of coastal Maine in the face of a global issue.

“The resilience of our community depends on citizens who are informed and empowered,” says Lee Cataldo, Outreach & Education Coordinator at the Land Trust. “This series is an effort to encourage people with positive and constructive information.”

Lecture topics through the year include: research from backyard studies and citizen science; forest  changes and evolving forest management practices; shifting bird migration patterns; local seafood industry adaptations; and invasive forest insects. Fall topics will focus on sustainable energy and local food impacts and options.

This spring, Nat Wheelwright, Bowdoin Professor of Natural Sciences, will share his observations of changes in plant and animal populations in recent decades, even in our own backyards. From when flowers bloom to when woodcocks mate, Maine’s natural world is changing. Wheelwright will consider the implications of these changes and suggest how people can respond with positive actions.

Si Balch of Manomet Climate Smart Network will help differentiate speculation from what is actually known about Maine’s changing forest. He will offer information on what landowners can do to make their woodlands resilient in the face of predicted changes. The Land Trust is considering how best to manage its forested lands in the context of climate change, and is looking for student and citizen scientist volunteers to help gather data needed to make effective management decisions.

Citizen science is a way for people to better understand the health of local ecosystems, and add valuable data to regional and global databases. As more people examine natural phenomena, and record and share information, we gain understanding of the natural world. A growing number of scientific inquiries depend on contributions from ordinary people.

The Land Trust is partnering with Project Learning Tree to engage local students, community members, and forestry professionals in gathering data about changes in the forests at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick. The Forest Inventory Growth (FIG) training in May will teach participants to establish a permanent forest research plot, collect data that will help inform management decisions, and make the data available for long-term studies.

Seafood will be the topic in June. Our region stands in the midst of a fascinating paradox – the Gulf of Maine is the second fastest warming body of water in the world, but according to recent economic research, aquaculture – traditionally dependent on the Gulf’s rich, cold waters – is one of the top three industries for growth potential in our state.  Several films will illustrate how climate change impacts our fisheries and fishing communities. Dan Devereaux, Brunswick Marine Resource Officer & Harbormaster will talk about his decades of observations of change in our local shellfishing industries and innovative approaches to help keep the local shellfishing heritage intact and our local shellfishing communities vibrant.

Lectures will be held on the last Tuesday of most months at the Topsham Public Library in partnership with the Library. Outings associated with the lecture topics are planned for most months, including the day-long FIG training, a tour of the new municipal aquaculture demonstration beds in Brunswick, and a field trip to look at invasive forest insects. More events are being added regularly.

All of the lectures and events in the series are free (excepting a small fee for the day-long FIG training, and a $5 theater cost for the films) and open to everyone.