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Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 1, No. 3

Gulf Log
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Summer 1997
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GOMCME LogoGulf of Maine Council on the Marine

Gulf Log

  1. Gas companies propose undersea pipeline projects
  2. Maine receives federal grants to restore Atlantic salmon
  3. AMC floats pilot session for river stewardship school
  4. MA legislation would protect coastal property owners, buyers
  5. Boston Harbor islands part of new national recreation area

Gas companies propose undersea pipeline projects

Gulf of Maine - Two natural gas companies hope to deliver offshore natural gas from Canada's Atlantic Provinces to the northeastern United States using undersea pipelines.

The companies say natural gas reservoirs off of Nova Scotia are well-suited to meet the increasing markets for demand for clean-burning fuel in the Canadian Maritimes and northeast United States. Both countries' federal governments will participate in reviewing applications for the projects.

Sable Offshore Energy is proposing construction of an offshore and onshore pipeline from the Sable Island area east of mainland Nova Scotia to the northeast US. Federal and provincial agencies are awaiting reports from a public review panel following public hearings on the project, said Jim Dickey, CEO of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, a regulatory agency that oversees offshore gas activity.

Tatham Offshore Canada, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tatham Offshore, Inc. of Houston, Texas, is investigating the feasibility of constructing an underwater pipeline from the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to the eastern seaboard of the US, ending in Seabrook, New Hampshire. The company has not yet filed an application for the project, although it has stated its intent to do so, said Dickey.

A third company, Gaz Metropolitaine of Quebec, is proposing an onshore alternative to Sable's proposal, he noted.

Jerry Conway of Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), which assesses the effects of such projects on the marine environment, said companies must conduct environmental impact studies before pipeline projects can be approved, and even before undertaking some types of preliminary work such as seismic testing. This involves bouncing noise off of the ocean floor to determine the best location to lay a pipeline.

If studies show that the projects or preliminary work would threaten the marine environment, the applicant must find alternatives, he said.

Conway said DFO is concerned about Tatham's proposed pipeline route, which would pass through Roseway Basin, a critical habitat area for endangered North Atlantic right whales. He said he also has questions about the potential impacts of pipeline projects on shellfish.

Maine receives federal grants to restore Atlantic salmon

Washington, DC - Eight pilot projects to protect and restore Atlantic salmon on five Maine rivers will receive a total of $71,000 in federal challenge grants, the state's Congressional delegation announced in July.

The Atlantic Salmon Watershed Collaborative, a consortium of federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and private business interests, selected the projects to be funded through a block grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

The US Fish and Wildlife Service's Gulf of Maine program will coordinate the NFWF grant, which will be combined with $300,000 in funding from the state and private sector.

Designed to compliment Maine's Atlantic Salmon Conservation Plan, the projects include vital habitat assessment, education and outreach, land protection, and habitat restoration. The work will take place on Bond Brook, a tributary of the Kennebec River, and on the Ducktrap, Saco, Sheepscot, and St. Croix rivers.

AMC floats pilot session for river stewardship school

Fryeburg, Maine - Paddling their way along the Saco River, 16 activists helped launch a new river stewardship school sponsored here by the Boston-based Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) June 20-22.

According to Peter Donahue, AMC's river and greenway conservation specialist, the pilot educational program addressed several aspects of river stewardship including how to lead groups on safe, low-impact river trips; understanding the science of watersheds (land areas that drain into water bodies such as rivers); and promoting advocacy efforts on behalf of river conservation issues.

Describing the program as generally well-received by participants, Donahue surmised that much of its appeal was its outdoor setting - the same aspect of involvement that attracts volunteer water quality monitors and others who work in the field for environmental causes. "They actually go to a river. They're not just writing a check or talking on the phone," he said.

AMC hopes, according to Donahue, that "People could come here and learn the skills that they could take back to their organization or their community and begin to make some difference."

Next year's program will likely cover issues specific to the river chosen as the program site, and may feature representatives from agencies or organizations working on those issues as guest speakers and instructors.

The 1998 session may take place in Delaware, in AMC's southern region, and is likely to include instruction in advocacy skills such as how to approach legislators, the organizational structure of municipalities, and how to raise funds and build citizen support for river stewardship issues. Donahue said he also hopes to recruit a sponsored member from each AMC chapter along with representatives from other watershed groups to promote "cross-fertilization" among the river activists.

AMC may eventually sponsor two river stewardship schools annually, one in their northern region and one in the southern region, said Donahue.

For more information on this program, Call Peter Donahue at AMC's Boston headquarters at (617) 523-0655.

MA legislation would protect coastal property owners, buyers

Boston, Massachusetts - Two bills filed here last December would protect coastal homeowners and home buyers. Hearings on both pieces of legislation have taken place and they are awaiting further action.

The Storm Damage Property Purchase Bill would allow owners of coastal property repeatedly damaged by storms to sell that property to the state at fair market value. The state would then remove permanent structures from the land and open it to the public for recreation and conservation purposes only.

The bill is intended to reduce danger to people, protect important coastal areas, provide property owners with a way to leave these properties without huge financial losses, and reduce public disaster recovery costs.

The Real Estate Hazard Notification Bill would require sellers of coastal real estate within the 100-year flood plain to inform potential buyers of the following: that the property lies in a flood plain; whether structures on the property have been repeatedly damaged by flooding; and the property's erosion history and annual average erosion rates. Sellers would also have to supply copies of certain pertinent documents on erosion rates and shoreline change.

Boston Harbor islands part of new national recreation area

Boston, Massachusetts - Thirty islands in Boston Harbor are now a Congressionally designated national recreation area as part of the US National Parks System.

Seventeen of the islands are owned by the state of Massachusetts as part of Boston Harbor Island State Park. The others are owned by the city of Boston or by private owners.

The National Parks Service will not assume ownership of any of the islands, but will contribute one dollar for every three dollars raised by island owners or private contributors for the islands' upkeep. Federal funds may pay for some capital projects, however, such as construction or restoration of piers and sea walls.

Congress designated the recreation area last year, while the partnership that will manage it convened in June to begin developing a management plan.

Comprising property owners; federal, state, and city agency representatives; and non-governmental organizations, the partnership was officially announced at a June 29 kick-off event at Long Wharf on Boston's waterfront.