If a catastrophic oil spill like the
one that recently fouled the coast of Spain happened in the waters off
Maine, the state's marine economy would suffer. But how would the state
accurately determine those costs — from declines in commercial fishing
stocks to lost tourism dollars — in order to collect damages from those
responsible for such a spill?
Helping Maine assess the value of its marine resources so it will be in
a better position to recoup losses in the event of a spill is the focus
of a study by the University of Maine's Margaret Chase Smith Center for
Public Policy. The research is sponsored by Maine Sea Grant.
The work is critical to the state because Portland is the third largest
crude oil port on the East Coast. Oil-carrying vessels also sail to
Bangor, Searsport, Eastport and to St. John, New Brunswick.
"There is a real possibility that Maine could have an oil spill that
would impose very large costs on the state's marine economy," says
Jonathan Rubin, the center's interim director and the principal
researcher on the project. "Determining losses from oil spills is very
difficult due to both methodological and data problems. Effort should be
spent now preparing the groundwork to enable a better assessment of
In 1996, the tanker Julie N, carrying 8.8 million gallons of fuel oil
(the same oil that spilled into the Atlantic off Spain last fall),
struck a bridge abutment on its way into Portland Harbor. Nearly 180,000
gallons of oil spilled into the Fore River. In addition to fisheries
damage, estimated economic losses included 300 lost tour boat trips,
4,862 lost recreational boat trips, 225 lost whale-watching trips and
1,380 lost or diminished trips on a walking trail near the spill site.
Officials acknowledged that the damage was underestimated because not
enough data existed to measure total lost use of recreational resources.
To remedy this problem, the Margaret Chase Smith Center will develop
baseline data on recreational uses of Maine's coast. The study will
focus on recreation and tourism, the largest parts of Maine's marine
economy. Extensive data already exist on the size and value of
Studying climate at the South Pole
When a team of University of Maine professors and students arrived at
the South Pole in early January, it was the first time in almost a
half-century that a scientific team reached the destination by traveling
over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and through the Transantarctic
Watching the historic moment — as well as the researchers' three weeks
of travel by sled train to collect snow and ice cores — were teachers
and public school students from Maine to Oregon.
Both the expedition and educational uplink were made possible by funding
from the National Science Foundation.
The researchers were completing the fourth in a series of expeditions
across the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collect environmental data about
the southern continent. The team was led by Paul Mayewski, professor of
geological sciences and director of the UMaine Institute for Quaternary
and Climate Studies, who developed the idea for the International
TransAntarctic Scientific Expedition (ITASE). Team members include
Research Assistant Professor Gordon Hamilton and four graduate students.
Because of its geographic position and unique environment, Antarctica
holds important keys to questions about global climate. In addition, the
research will provide clues to the fate of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,
which is thought to be vulnerable to changes in climate and sea levels.
Schoolchildren communicated with the UMaine researchers through a Web
managed by the Institute for Quaternary and Climate Studies. The public
followed the expedition's progress via a Boston Museum of Science Web
From stump to ship
A 30-minute silent film made in 1930 and donated years later to the
University of Maine is one of 25 selected to the National Film Registry,
Library of Congress, for 2002.
From Stump to Ship, filmed and scripted by Alfred Ames, president of
Machias Lumber Co., documents a dying chapter of Maine's logging
history. The black-and-white film captures timber harvesting by woodsmen
and horses, river driving, milling of logs and loading of lumber onto
As a National Film Registry selection, From Stump to Ship is considered
one of 350 "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant
films. The registry was created to reflect the breadth and diversity of
American motion picture heritage. The 2002 film selections were created
The original film of From Stump to Ship was donated to UMaine in 1970.
Fifteen years later, with a grant from the Maine Humanities Council,
funding from the university and corporate sponsorship, the film was
restored by Maine-based Northeast Historic Film.
Older adults RSVP
Older adults have the expertise and time to help their communities.
Charitable groups often are in need of volunteers and advice. Now the
Center on Aging at the University of Maine is bringing them together.
With a $90,000 grant, the center will administer the region's Retired
and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a decades-old federal project that
pairs healthy, active adults over the age of 55 with organizations in
need of volunteer services. The renewable annual funding comes from the
Maine Bureau of Elder and Adult Services, and the Corporation for
National and Community Service, which administers Senior Corps programs
like RSVP. Additional funding and support comes from the university's
School of Social Work and the College of Business, Public Policy and
Under the university's stewardship, RSVP will expand and move in new
directions, says Lenard Kaye, director of the Center on Aging.
"Sponsorship of RSVP serves to further underscore the Center on Aging's
deep commitment to providing real-life community services that will make
a genuine difference in the lives of older adults and the communities in
which they live," says Kaye.
Working with the university's Maine Business School, Kaye plans to
establish a new executive division in RSVP. Through this program,
volunteers with financial management, budgeting and fund-raising
expertise will be paired with non-profit groups in need of such
In addition, senior volunteers will be involved in homeland
security-related organizations like the Red Cross. They will staff
shelters, provide counseling and assist in the agency's response to
local emergencies. Volunteers also would be placed with town and county
emergency management offices.
"We anticipate that (the Center on Aging) will bring only the highest
level of innovation and expertise in designing high-impact volunteer
placement opportunities for seniors in Maine," says Shireen Tilley,
director of the Corporation for National and Community Service for
Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Center on Aging is taking over administration of RSVP from the
United Way of Eastern Maine, sponsor of the program since 1987.
Monitoring the birth of the free
press in Bosnia
A University of Maine assistant professor of journalism is in Bosnia
this spring to study how journalists are gathering information as
Bosnia-Herzegovina transitions from state-controlled to privately owned
Shannon E. Martin received a Fulbright Scholar Award for teaching and
research at the University of Sarajevo. It is Martin's second trip to
Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2000, the International Research and Education
Exchange invited her there to train journalists to use Internet
"My research springs from a fundamental principle of information
distribution as the linchpin in effective self-governance," she says.
"The media provide the forum for presenting ideas, problems and
solutions. I tell my journalism students that they are the information
seekers for their neighbors, and it's their job to make sure everyone
has the information to make good decisions."
However, in Bosnia-Herzegovina people are less confident of journalists
as information conduits, Martin says. They are accustomed to the
government dicta coming through the state-controlled media, and the
media are not yet confident enough to challenge the government
Martin's research hopes to shed light on who is setting the agenda for
public discourse in Bosnia-Herzegovina. She has conducted extensive
research on the agenda-setting function of the mass media and
information controls by the government in the U.S.
She is the author of Bits, Bytes and Big Brother: Federal Information
Control in the Technological Age and Newspapers of Record in a Digital
Age: From Hot Type to Hot Link (with Kathleen Hansen). Her third book,
The Function of Newspapers in Society: A Global Perspective (with David
Copeland), will be published this spring.
In mid-coast Maine, an innovative alternative certification program
created by the University of Maine College of Education and Human
Development is helping schools address the teacher shortage. Since 2001,
UMaine, in partnership with the area superintendents' association, has
offered the two years of coursework, intensive training and strong
support needed to put conditionally certified teachers in classrooms.
The preparation dovetails with Maine's Initial Teacher Certification
Performance Standards and licensing provisions.
Based on the initiative's success, UMaine recently received a five-year,
$1 million Transition to Teaching grant from the U.S. Department of
Education to expand the program to other parts of the state. With
conditional certification, school districts in the program are
recruiting and hiring mid-career professionals with strong subject
matter skills and successful backgrounds, as well as recent college
graduates with outstanding academic records and majors in areas other
A breed of sheep that got its start in Maine in the 1950s is attracting
international attention because of improved internal parasite-resistance
research by scientists at the University of Maine and Bowdoin College.
The Katahdin hair sheep breed is not rare. In fact, it is the fifth most
popular in the U.S., out of more than 20 commercial breeds.
UMaine researcher Stanley Musgrave, emeritus professor of animal
science, was involved in early work with the breed. Today, Richard
Brzozowski, a UMaine Cooperative Extension educator in Cumberland
County, and Tom Settlemire of Bowdoin College are working on improving
the breed for market.
Current research focuses on the genetics and biology of parasite
resistance in the Katahdin. The result could benefit sheep breeders in
Maine and the Northeast.
Katahdins are known for their hardiness, and some carry a gene that
makes them resistant to scrapie, a type of spongiform encephalopathy
that is related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) in people.
In recent years, interest in Katahdins has been shown by the government
of China, as well as the Gates Foundation.
An international conference on Katahdin hair sheep is slated for Oct.
16– 19 in New Gloucester, Maine.
What it means to get old in the
As they get up in years, spruce and fir trees change in predictable
ways. Their growth slows or even stops. Their needles get thicker, and
new branches develop a shortened, gnarled appearance.
With support from a three-year National Science Foundation grant,
University of Maine and Oregon State University scientists are trying to
get to the root of why such changes occur in these and other species.
The results could lead to improvements in predicting forest growth and
help scientists understand the role of forests in global environmental
cycles, says Michael Greenwood, the Ruth Hutchins Professor of Tree
Physiology at UMaine.
Slower growth means trees absorb less carbon — an important factor in
the current global climate change debate.
"We don't really understand what causes trees to go through
developmental stages," says Greenwood. "There are a couple of theories,
and there is undoubtedly a genetic component, but we don't know what
triggers the process."
In tree years, old age varies considerably by species. Balsam fir rarely
approach 100 years old, but spruce can live as long as 150–200 years.
The oldest eastern white pine, located in New York state, is 450 years
old, but such long-lived examples are rare. On the other hand,
bristlecone pines, said to be the oldest recorded trees on Earth, are
more than 3,500 years old.
Greenwood and Michael Day, an assistant scientist in UMaine's Department
of Forest Ecosystem Science, are collaborating with Barbara Bond of
Oregon State to test two theories of tree development. One theory
suggests that changes in old growth are due to environmental or
physiological factors, such as a lack of nutrients or increasing
resistance to sap flow. Another theory suggests that developmental
changes are genetic and may be irreversible.
The truth may include parts of both theories, says Greenwood. To find
out, researchers will graft branches of both old and young red spruce
and Douglas fir onto trees of different ages. They will monitor growth,
sap flow, photosynthesis rates and other factors. The goal is to
understand how the grafted branches are affected by the age of the host
Previous research by Day and Greenwood suggests that the growing tips,
or meristems, of old red spruce retain some sort of memory after they
have been separated from the large trees from which they grew. There is
evidence that meristems from old trees maintain their old- growth
characteristics even after being grafted onto young trees, implying that
gene expression in growing tips changes as trees age or grow larger
beyond reproductive maturity.
"If we understand what triggers development, we may be able to get the
branch to grow like a young tree again," Greenwood says.
4-H and veterans
In an effort to provide educational and community service experiences
for young people in the state, Maine 4-H has created a new program that
will link veterans' groups with youth organizations.
The basis of the new program is a plan to connect veterans with 4-Hers
and youths in other organizations, such as scouting and school groups,
to place flags and plant flowers at cemeteries beginning Memorial Day
"The young people and the veterans will both benefit from their
association in this program," says Richard Brzozowski, a UMaine
Cooperative Extension educator in Cumberland County. "By meeting and
working closely with veterans, the members of the youth groups will
develop a tangible connection to an important part of history."
Cooperative Extension provides the staffing for 4-H programs statewide.
More than 16,000 Maine children, ages 5-18, participate in 4-H programs