Gulf of Maine Coastal Program
Northeast Region

News and announcements

2009 Archives

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program hosts European conservationists

Zoran Acimov, Director of Retezat National Park, Romania
Zoran Acimov, Romania.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS

December 8, 2009

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer

Six conservation professionals from Southeast Europe visited the GOMCP office as part of an international study tour organized by the Quebec-Labrador Foundation (QLF) Center for the Environment. The objectives of the tour were to give the participants an appreciation for the breadth and depth of protected area management in the U.S., and to create opportunities for dialogue and cooperation.

Hajrush Kurtaj, Kosovo; Goran Sekulic, Serbia; Milena Kapa and Katarina Vuksic, Montenegro
(L to R) Hajrush Kurtaj, Kosovo; Goran Sekulic, Serbia; Milena Kapa and Katarina Vuksic, Montenegro.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS

GOMCP provided an open format for the meeting that facilitated a comfortable exchange of ideas. The study group participants were primarily interested in discussing how conservation-based organizations and agencies in the U.S. conserve and protect land, sustainably manage forests, incorporate education into parks and recreation management, engage local communities in land conservation and stewardship, and balance conservation with politics and economic demands for natural resources.

The participants traveled from Romania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia. In addition, GOMCP project leader Stewart Fefer invited his staff and five land managers from Maine to participate in the dialogue. "It's important for conservation professionals in the U.S. and around the world to recognize that many of the environmental issues we are tackling transcend political boundaries," commented Fefer. "Meetings like these provide a basis for exchanging ideas, developing partnerships, and opening up pathways for international environmental cooperation."

Alin Mos, Director of Apuseni Nature Park, Romania
Alin Moş, Romania.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS


The European visitors were Zoran Acimov, Director of Retezat National Park, Romania; Milena Kapa, Head of the Department of Nature Protection and Environmental Impact Assessment in the Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environment of Montenegro; Hajrush Kurtaj, Chief of the Division for Management Forest Policies, Wildlife, and Training in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Development of Kosovo; Alin Moş, Director of Apuseni Nature Park, Romania; Goran Sekulic, Ornithologist for Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia; and Katarina Vuksic, Landscape Architect for Expeditio in Montenegro.


Jane Arbuckle, Director of Stewardship for Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Jane Arbuckle, MCHT.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS

The land managers from Maine were Jane Arbuckle, Director of Stewardship for Maine Coast Heritage Trust; Paul Dest, Reserve Manager for Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve; Beth Goettel, Project Leader for Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge; Charlie Jacobi, Resource Specialist for Acadia National Park; and Karrie Schwaab, Refuge Operations Specialist for Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.

Brent Mitchell, Vice President of Stewardship, Quebec-Labrador Foundation
Brent Mitchell, QLF.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS


Brent Mitchell of QLF extended the invitation to GOMCP to host the Maine segment of the tour. The group then continued on to other New England states. QLF is a Not-for-Profit Organization in the U.S. and a Registered Charity in Canada. QLF fosters long-term leadership development within individuals and communities by supporting community-based conservation initiatives; developing models of stewardship of natural and cultural resources; and aiding in community service, economic development, and heritage preservation in rural regions.


More information and links to our partners' websites are available below.

Partners' Websites
Quebec-Labrador Foundation
Acadia National Park
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Back to top

York River salt marsh
York River salt marsh. Credit: Doreen Macgillis/York Land Trust

240 acres on York River protected as part of a large NAWCA grant

November 13, 2009

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer

Four years ago the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gulf of Maine Coastal Program (GOMCP) helped York Land Trust and Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea conservation partners put together a million dollar grant proposal through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA). Recently, those funds were used to purchase 240 acres of pristine salt marsh, shorelands, field and forested uplands from the Davis family, one of York's founding families and long time supporters of community conservation.

"Our family settled this land in the 1600s and lived on it continuously until 1963, when our great aunt Alice R. McIntire died and our mother Mary McIntire Davis inherited the land. Before her death, it was our mother's fondest wish that the land remain undeveloped and in its natural state in-perpetuity. We believe conveying the land to the good stewards of the York Land Trust will ensure our mother's legacy and provide for the enjoyment of the citizens and visitors of York. My brothers, Dan and Jim, and I are pleased to be able to continue our family's affiliation with the York Land Trust," said Mal Davis.

"We are grateful to the Davis Family for working with us to protect this spectacular property and for their generosity in selling the land for less than its market value, as a donation to the York Land Trust. The success of the project was due in part to this important gift," said Doreen MacGillis, Executive Director of York Land Trust. "In addition, the value of a partially donated conservation easement to Maine Coast Heritage Trust by the Delano family on a 390-acre parcel on Gerrish Island in Kittery last year provided critical match necessary to secure the federal NAWCA grant."

Developing the NAWCA grant proposal was a rigorous process that focused national attention on the York River System. GOMCP played an active role in working with land trust partners, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited and NAWCA staff to develop a compelling land protection plan for the funds. GOMCP researched and wrote the biological components of the grant, reviewed, edited and corrected other sections of the proposal, calculated wetland acreages and produced multiple maps in support of the grant proposal. GOMCP also provided and interpreted biological data to partners, answered multiple questions and provided technical support in multiple details regarding the grant process and strategy, and coordinated site visit planning. GOMCP served as Project Administrator for this grant.

Project leader Stewart Fefer with GOMCP said, "This York River project protects forever a diversity of nationally significant coastal wetland habitats for fish, wildlife and people. We are delighted to have been able to assist in this important conservation partnership."

Conservation biologists have long recognized the exceptional habitat values for water-dependent species in this area. According to aquatic biologist Michele Dionne of the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, "The ecology of the River is directly connected to the ecology of its surrounding landscape. If the shorelands lose their natural functions, so do the brooks, streams, creeks and channels of the watershed and estuary." Extensive salt marshes and upland buffer provide habitat for nearly every waterbird species in the Atlantic Flyway. Conserving the lands connected to the River and its source wetlands and streams protects habitat for sharp-tailed sparrows and other wildlife including rare turtles, amphibians, invertebrates, mammals, and diadromous fish.

Areas protected as part of the York River NAWCA project are within the approved boundary of Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and help further the refuge's land protection goals.

More information and links to press coverage and our partners' websites are available below.

Greater York River Project Area - NAWCA grant map (JPG 574 KB)
Davis Tract Christina Epperson/Maine Coast Heritage Trust (JPG 88 KB)
Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative (PDF 3.37 MB)

Press Coverage
Land Trust Alliance
Land trust acquires 240 acres on York River (
York River farm parcel saved from development (Portland Press Herald)

Partners' Websites
York Land Trust
Mt. Agamenticus to the Sea Conservation Initiative
Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Maine Ducks Unlimited
Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Related Stories
One Million Dollar NAWCA Grant Awarded to Protect York River, ME

Back to top

Dam removal opens Little River to fish

September 24, 2009

Project Coordinator:
Sandra Lary
207-781-8364 x19

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program coordinated the removal of a dam from the Little River, a tributary in the Androscoggin River watershed, opening up 43 miles of historic habitat for Atlantic salmon, American eel, and sea lamprey. As a lead partner with the Atlantic Salmon Federation, Maine Department of Marine Resources, and Natural Resources Conservation Service to plan and implement the dam removal, GOMCP assessed habitat, provided funding, reviewed designs, wrote permits, and oversaw construction.

Restoring river connectivity and function provides numerous benefits to fish, birds, and marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine. GOMCP fishery biologist Sandra Lary supervised the project. “It helps improve the health of the entire ecosystem,” she said. “Taking out dams or putting in fish ladders improves the health of the watershed and the health of the communities that are connected to the Gulf of Maine through those rivers.”

But there is still more work to do. John Burrows of the Atlantic Salmon Federation said of the lower Androscoggin River, “...pretty much all of the tributaries are blocked with dams.” He added, “You are not going to rebuild the Androscoggin and the Androscoggin salmon population just by opening up this river... but this is certainly a really important first step.”

Neil Ward of the Androscoggin River Alliance offered a socioeconomic perspective: “All of the communities along the river see the potential that this river has for them, and that includes recreation, fishing - things that we have never thought about along the Androscoggin because of its polluted state. You look at the downtown areas of Lewiston and Auburn, even Brunswick and Topsham, the buildings didn’t face the river and that was because nobody wanted to look at that and realize what the condition of the river was.”

The Little River dam had been in place for nearly one hundred years but had not been used in decades. It was originally built to hold water that was pumped to a nearby mill.

Press Coverage
Dam Removal Opens Little River to Fish (WCSH-6)

Little River dam on the lower Androscoggin River before demolition
Little River dam on the lower Androscoggin River before demolition.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS
Removing the dam
Removing the dam.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS
Cofferdam for erosion control
Cofferdam for erosion control.
Credit: Samuel Manders/USFWS
Rescuing mussels after dewatering the river
Rescuing mussels after dewatering the river.
Credit: Sandra Lary/USFWS
Little River after dam removal
Little River after dam removal.
Credit: Sandra Lary/USFWS

Back to top

The U.S. Attorney for Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard presented nearly 2 million dollars to grant recipients. The funds will be used to promote the environmental health of the Gulf of Maine.
The U.S. Attorney for Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard presenting a check to the grant recipients.
Credit: Mao Teng Lin/USFWS

New grants spur more than $5M in conservation action

September 22, 2009

Project Coordinator:
Stewart Fefer

Nearly $2 million in grants, bolstered by $3.4 million raised by grant recipients, will support 14 coastal and marine conservation projects in Maine. Funding for the grants came from the settlement of a criminal enforcement action by the U.S. Attorney for Maine and the U.S. Coast Guard with the Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. associated with discharges and disposals of oil residue and oily mixtures in coastal waters of Maine.

The settlement and disbursement of funds resulted from a partnership effort of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), U.S. Attorney for Maine, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Officials from the Service worked with the U.S. Attorneys Office in Maine to make them aware of the possible use of Community Services Payments (CSP) to assist in rectifying the damage from the oil discharges. The U.S. Attorney for Maine became interested in the CSP and contacted the Service for information and assistance. The Service then worked with NFWF and the Office of the U.S. Attorney to develop criteria and implement the program. Because of the great interest in these funds expressed by agencies and non-government organizations in Maine when the CSP was announced in the media, NFWF developed a request for proposals. Numerous excellent proposals were received and Service staff at Gulf of Maine Coastal Program and NFWF staff evaluated and ranked the proposals.

Two of the funded projects will directly benefit National Wildlife Refuges in Maine. Rachel Carson NWR will receive funds to assist in purchasing Timber Point in partnership with Land and Water Conservation Fund. Maine Coastal Islands NWR will receive nationally significant Compass Island (seabird nesting colony) from Maine Coast Heritage Trust as a donation.

All of the projects awarded benefit coastal fish and wildlife resources in Maine and greatly assist the FWS in meeting its goals.

USFWS news release (including a list of funded projects)

The story was covered by The Associated Press and picked up by several major media outlets including The Washington Examiner, Forbes, CNBC, and MSN Money. Some of the media coverage for the announcement are linked below.

Portland Press Herald

MPBN News (AP)

Back to top

Last updated: February 28, 2020

Northeast Region Ecological Services

Northeast Region Home

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home Page | Department of the Interior  |  | About the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  | Accessibility  | Privacy  | Notices  | Disclaimer  | FOIA