The Maine Field Office regularly provides technical assistance to USFWS personnel in other divisions (e.g., Fisheries, Law Enforcement, Migratory Birds) and to the National Wildlife Refuge staff. Contaminants biologists are also involved in cooperative projects with a variety of agencies and organizations. Partners and collaborators in these contaminant projects are from other federal agencies (e.g., Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological Survey), tribes (e.g., Penobscot Indian Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe, Aroostook Band of Micmacs), state agencies (e.g., Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife), universities (e.g., University of Maine), and non-government organizations (e.g., BioDiversity Research Institute, National Audubon Society, Downeast Salmon Federation). These project have resulted in over 25 technical reports and publications.
Assistance for Refuges
The Maine Field Office provides contaminants technical assistance to all the National Wildlife Refuges in Maine. In 2008, a former small arms range was located on Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Calais. Our office led a joint effort comprised of staff from Moosehorn NWR, our Regional Engineering Office and our Regional Contracting Office to work with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to excavate and dispose of 100 cubic yards of lead-contaminated soil.
Since 1997, the Maine Field Office has surveyed National Wildlife Refuges in Maine for malformed frogs. The investigation is part of a region-wide effort to document frog abnormalities. Several abnormal frogs have been found during the surveys, but the incidence rate has declined in recent years. In 2009, green frogs were collected and examined at the Petit Manan Division of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. No abnormalities were found.
Assistance for Fisheries
In 2008, the Maine Field Office analyzed shortnose sturgeon from the USFWS Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery in South Carolina to determine body burdens in hatchery fish. Several age classes of fish were analyzed (Year 1 Age Class pictured below). Fortunately, elevated concentrations of organochlorine compounds and trace metals were not found in these hatchery-reared fish.
In 2011, fillets from sea run Atlantic salmon from the Gulf of Maine Distinct Population Segment were analyzed for organochlorine compounds, PBDE, and trace metals. A final report on the study was released in November.
Assistance for State and Federal Partners
We are currently working with the Maine Department of Marine Resources and the National Marine Fisheries Service to assess contaminant exposure in Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon in the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers and other areas.
||With our state partners, we conducted a contaminant study of the original seven rivers where Atlantic salmon were listed as endangered in Maine. In all seven rivers, white suckers were collected and examined for organochlorine and trace metal body burdens. Concentrations of organochlorine such as PCBs and DDE were low or below detection, but mercury was found at elevated concentrations is some river. The photo to the left shows staff from the Maine Department of Marine Resources/Bureau of Sea Run Fisheries and Habitat electrofishing for white suckers in the Ducktrap River. In addition, the Maine Field Office has worked with the Maine Department of Marine Resources to determine contaminant burdens in returning sea-run adult Atlantic salmon. Since 2008, fillets from three adult Atlantic salmon have been submitted for contaminant analyses.
Assistance in Superfund
Since 1992, the Maine Field Office has participated in EPA's Region 1 Superfund Biological Technical Advisory Group. The multi-agency, multi-discipline advisory group, often referred to as the BTAG, provides technical assistance to EPA Remedial Project Managers during the development of remedial investigations and ecological risk assessments at Superfund sites. Federal agencies involved in the BTAG include EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State environmental protection agencies also serve on the BTAG.
The Maine Field Office is currently working with EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection on the Superfund Sites at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Brunswick and the Callahan Mine Site in Brooksville. In 2009, the Service provided technical assistance during the development of the cleanup plan for this former mine site in Brooksville. Additional technical support will be provided on the Callahan Mine Site in 2010.
Goose Pond at the Callahan Mine Superfund Site, Brooksville, Maine.
Photo by: S. Mierzykowski, USFWS.