Senior Environmental Policy Majors, 2014The Colby Environmental Policy Group, senior environmental policy majors at Colby College, presented The State of Maine’s Environment 2014 on December 2, 2014.

This is the eighth State of Maine’s Environment report. This year students focused on the following topics: Municipal waste, alternative transportation, islands, coastal and island wildlife, and big game species.

Special thanks to Professors Philip Nyhus and Divya Gupta for their direction and assistance with this project.

State of Municipal Waste
On average, Maine residents produce less waste per person compared to other New England states and Maine’s recycling rate of 42% is among the highest in the nation. Maine also is a leader in product stewardship programming for some household hazardous waste products, but the state does not regulate the disposal of prescription drugs. We analyze the capacity, distribution, and environmental and public health implications of waste in Maine by focusing on landfills and incinerators, recycling and composting, and household hazardous waste. Presented by Noma Moyo, and Devki Rana, Cassandra Smith

State of Alternative Transportation
The transportation sector accounts for 28% of national greenhouse gas emissions. Modes of alternative transportation, including electric vehicles, bicycles, and public transportation, can help to reduce these emissions, but Maine lags behind other New England states in promoting and adopting these transportation alternatives. We analyze the state of electric vehicles, bicycles, and buses in Maine by examining changes in ridership; identifying physical, social, and behavioral barriers to their implementation; and evaluating current infrastructure. We suggest ways to promote these three modes of transportation in Maine through economic incentives, education, and opportunities to integrate them into a comprehensive state transportation plan.
Presented by Jeff Meltzer, Leah Powley, and Alex Wilsterman

State of Maine Islands
Maine has over 4,000 islands of diverse size, proximity to shore, and communities. We researched aspects that influence community life, the environment, and local economies on the 15 unbridged island communities in Maine. Have you wondered how tourists affect these communities, and how these island communities affect tourists? How do the town management systems of individual islands affect the state of conservation? How are the islands’ lobster resources controlled and what are the equity and fairness issues that arise in their management? How are Maine’s islands coping with their unique and challenging energy needs? We answer these questions and provide targeted recommendations.                                Presented by Ruthie Hawley, Sara Miller, Mark Vargas, and Connor Whitley

State of Coastal and Island Wildlife
Maine is the only state entirely located within the Gulf of Maine, and its coastline is one of the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world. Wildlife that inhabit the coastal zone of Maine are currently threatened by climate change and a wide variety of human impacts. We evaluate the coastal zone by focusing on five indicator species within the various physical habitats that make up Maine’s unique coastline: Atlantic puffins, softshell clams, Atlantic herring, right whales, and harbor seals. We describe changes in their population and discuss
policy changes to manage Maine’s coastal wildlife.                                                          Presented by Maddie Johnson, Connor O’Neil, Kat Rizk, and Kellie Walsh

State of Big Game Species
With over 80% forest cover, Maine has one of the largest intact forests in the country. As a result, big game species are abundant throughout the state. Black bear, moose, and white tailed deer are the most iconic big game species residing in Maine and are important to the economy and livelihood of the state, contributing over $175 million annually to the state’s economy. We discuss how big game species are managed in the state; evaluate human-wildlife conflicts, particularly deadly moose and deer vehicle collisions; and analyze political, economic, and social forces affecting these species.                                                                                Presented by Meredith Braun, Angela Cross, Jake Lukach

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