Maine Policy Matters

Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center

The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center is a nonpartisan, independent research and public service unit of the University of Maine (UMaine). read less
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S4E7 Impactful Research: Discussions with Award-Winning Student Researchers
21-11-2023
S4E7 Impactful Research: Discussions with Award-Winning Student Researchers
On this episode, we interview Mikayla Reynolds, Tamra Benson, Santiago Tijerina, and Caroline Paras, winners of UMaine’s 2023 Student Symposium. The mission of the UMaine Student Symposium is to give graduate and undergraduate student researchers the opportunity to showcase their work, research, and creative activities to the greater community, fostering conversations and collaborations that will benefit the future of Maine and beyond. Mikayla graduated as Salutatorian in May 2023 and earned her B.S.B.A with majors in management and marketing. She is currently a graduate student pursuing her MBA with concentrations in sustainability and public & non-profit management and is an Alfond Ambassador Scholar. She is a Sustainability Graduate Fellow with the George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions. Mikayla serves as the Lead Peer Coach for TRIO Student Support Services, where she partners with students on their personal and collegiate goals. She is also a core organizer and the Impact Assessment Director for the Black Bear Mutual Aid Fund. Tamra Benson (she/her) graduated from the University of Maine in 2023 with a B.A. in Biology. She is the founder and vice president of the Black Bear Mutual Aid Fund. She now works as a Community Organizer for Food AND Medicine, a nonprofit based in Brewer whose motto is that no one should have to choose between food, medicine, and other necessities. At FAM, Tamra primarily helps to coordinate the Collective Gardens Program. She strongly believes that everyone, no matter their circumstances, deserves to have their needs met, and that community care initiatives are healing and effective methods for collective, sustainable change.  Santiago Tijerina’s documentary short film titled, Climate Action at the University of Maine, won first prize in the arts category at the 2023 Center for Undergraduate Research (CUGR) Student Symposium. Tijerina currently attends the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at the Maine College of Art & Design. Caroline Paras grew up in Southern California as the daughter of immigrants from Argentina, whose own families escaped religious persecution in the Old World. A first generation American, Caroline has been proud to call Maine her “home” since 1993. Over the last three decades, she has pursued two distinct careers: first as an educator who helped teachers create service-learning opportunities for K-12 students; and second, as a planner who engaged residents in economic and community development. Her third career was born on a trip to Italy, where she traveled to Bologna to learn how the distinct products of Denominazione d'Origine Protetta (DOP) Parma are made. Through an Interdisciplinary PhD at the University of Maine, she is researching whether agritourism experiences on culinary trails can facilitate consumer loyalty, brand experience, and regional economic development, thus keeping working farms and waterfronts in production while transforming consumers into lifelong customers of Maine farm and fishery products. On the side, Caroline also serves as the principal of her own consulting firm, ParasScope, providing market research and grant writing to support local and regional food economies. Caroline graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Political Science and Communication. At the University of Southern Maine, she has earned a Master of Arts in American and New England Studies, Graduate Certificate in Community Planning, and a second Bachelor’s in Tourism and Hospitality (‘22). She lives in Portland with her husband, Peter. Our Website: https://mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/maine-policy-matters/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/umainepolicycenter/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/umainepolicy Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mcs.policy.center/?hl=en Threads: coming soon You can access the transcript here: https://mcspolicycenter.umaine.edu/s4e7-impactful-research-discussions-with-award-winning-student-researchers/
S3E9: Making Maine More Attractive to Young People
09-05-2023
S3E9: Making Maine More Attractive to Young People
Today’s episode has two parts. Part one is a synopsis of Amanda Rector’s article, “Maine’s Changing Demographics: Implications for Workforce, Economy, and Policy”. Part two features an interview with Everett Beals and Michael Delorge, winners of Margaret Chase Smith Library’s 2020 essay contest. Beals’s article is titled, “Making Maine More Attractive to Young People” and Delorge’s is titled, “Progress for Young Mainers Paved by Education”. The essay prompt asked students to propose how they would make Maine “the way life should be” for young people so that more of them will choose to live in a state with one of the oldest populations in the nation. You can find the articles here: Rector: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr/vol29/iss2/13/ Beals: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1872&context=mpr Delorge: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr/vol29/iss2/18/ Transcript [00:00:00] Eric Miller: Before we start today's episode, we'd like to let listeners know that this is our last episode of season three. We'll be back for season four on August 29th, 2023, covering a variety of topics like PFAS, Investing in Teachers' Leadership Capacity: A Model from STEM Education, Maine's Libraries, Moose and Ticks, and AI in Higher Learning. Thanks for your support throughout this season, and we look forward to returning in the fall. Now let's get started with the episode. How has Maine's changing demographics affected our workforce economy policy and Maine's younger generation in light of Covid-19? This is the Maine Policy Matters podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I'm Eric Miller, research associate at the center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today's episode will have two parts. Part one is a synopsis of Amanda Rector's article, "Maine's Changing Demographics: Implications for Workforce, Economy, and Policy." Part two will feature an interview with Everett Beals and Michael Delorge, winners of Margaret Chase Smith Library's 2020 essay contest. Beals article is titled, "Making Maine More Attractive to Young People" and Delorge is titled, "Progress for Young Mainers Paved by Education." The essay prompt asked students to propose how they would make Maine "the way life should be" for young people so that more of them will choose to live in a state with one of the oldest populations in the nation. Amanda Rector is the Maine state economist, we've had her on the podcast before, a position she has held since 2011. Rector is a member of Maine's Revenue Forecasting Committee and serves as the governor's liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau. She also serves on the advisory board for the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and is a member of the Board of Visitors at the Muskie School of Public Service. Everett Beals is a rising senior at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, pursuing a degree in environmental science with a minor in creative writing. On campus, Everett has served on Clark's Undergraduate Student Council and serves for the Department of Philosophy and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. In the fall semester, he'll serve as editor-in-chief of Clark student Newspaper, The Scarlet. He spends his summers in Maine as a faculty member at a summer camp, working as the instructor for sea kayaking and marine biology. Everett is a graduate of Kennebunk High School in Kennebunk, Maine. Michael Delorge of Biddeford, Maine, is a third year student at the University of Maine pursuing a dual degree in biology and political science. On campus, Michael is the president of the University of Maine Student Government and also leads UMaine's Partners for World Health Club. He is a John M. Nickerson Scholar and a Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center scholar researching the Maine substance use epidemic. Michael has also been a UMaine UVote Ambassador, a member of the Sophomore Owls Tradition Society, a resident assistant, and recently inducted into the Senior Skulls Tradition Society. Michael hopes to pursue a career in health policy upon graduation. Rector's, Beals's, Delorge's respective articles were published in volume 29, issue 2 of Maine Policy Review, a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to the original article, which can be found in the episode description. Rector argues that the events of 2020 were a sobering reminder of why it is important to understand the demographics of a region. With the onset of Covid-19 our lives were upended. The economy, which had been chugging merrily along, came to a screeching halt. There is nothing like a public health crisis to help clarify that every policy, at its core, is about people. The fundamental purpose of any policy, be it federal, state, or local, is to safeguard and improve the wellbeing of people. The understanding of any policy decision, therefore, must start with a understanding of demographics. Demographics describe the characteristics of a population. The most basic demographic data or simple population counts: how many people are living in a given area at a point in time? From here we can delve into ever more detailed demographics such as age and sex, race and ethnicity, migration patterns, fertility and mortality rates. These demographics provide the data we need to make policy decisions. The Decennial Census is the single best source of demographic data available in the United States. Every 10 years, the US Census Bureau accounts every person living in the country and gathers some basic demographic data about them. These decennial population counts are used to determine each state's representation in Congress as well as districts for state legislatures. They're also used to distribute billions of dollars of federal funds every year. Policymakers, researchers, business owners, and others use the data to make decisions that affect our lives every day. Helpfully, Maine became a state the same year the United States conducted its fourth decennial census. This means we have a snapshot of what Maine's population looked like near the time of statehood. In 1820, when Maine became the 23rd state in the nation, Maine's total population was 298,335, 3% of the US total at the time, and the twelfth largest population. Only 13% of the population was 45 or older, compared to around 12% of the US population. Reflecting the times, the census counted "free white" males, and females separately from slaves and "free colored" males and females. Maine's population density of 10 people per square mile was nearly twice that of the 5.5 people square mile for the nation. By 1920, Maine's total population had increased more than 150% to 768,014, but this was only 0.7% of the US total. The 1920 census included six different options for "color or race." Despite the increase in categories, population remain 99.7% white. Jumping ahead, another 100 years to 2020, Maine's total population has increased another 75%, making Maine the 42nd most populous state in the country. Half Maine's population is age 45 or older, compared to around 42% of the US population. The 2019 population estimate from Maine shows 93% of the population as "white alone, non-Hispanic." Maine has the highest percentage of white alone, non-Hispanic population in the country. Since the beginning, Maine's population has grown more slowly than the nation's, and while population density has increased, Maine has become relatively less densely populated than the rest of the country. Participation in labor force has changed substantially over the past 200 years as baby boomers age, labor force participation rates in Maine and the United States will continue to decline. Employment itself has followed a similar trend with a rapid increase in the 1970s, but Maine reached a new record non-farm employment level in 2016, followed by a further increases in 2017, 2018, and 2019. It is still unknown exactly what trajectory current economic conditions will take. The single most dominating demographic force in Maine in recent years has been the aging of baby boomers, with this generation making up around 27% of Maine's population. As baby boomers continue to retire, fewer new workers will enter the workforce, which may lead to fewer available workers in the future unless more younger workers move to Maine. Maine has seen a natural population decline since 2010, but net migration has helped offset this decline and led to increased population growth. In 2019, Maine's rate of net domestic migration ranked 16th in the nation, an overall population growth ranked 25th. According to US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the only age cohort that saw net domestic out migration in Maine in 2018 was age 75 and older. The largest increase in the domestic migration rate came out of the 18 and 19 year olds. We also saw high rates of migration for young children and adults aged 30 to 44. Demographics are on our minds more than ever these days, even if we don't realize it. There are some possible silver linings for Maine. Those rural parts of the state that may have seemed too far for some people in the not-too-distant past, suddenly now hold new attraction. While some businesses in Maine have certainly faced tremendous uncertainty and unpredictability in our bicentennial year, they have also demonstrated their adaptability. That concludes our synopsis of the Rector article. We will now move on to the interview with Michael and Everett. Thank you both for joining us today. [00:09:31] Everett Beals: Yeah, absolutely. My pleasure. [00:09:32] Michael Delorge: Thanks for having us. [00:09:33] Eric Miller: Since both of your essays were published in Maine Policy Review in 2020, would you both mind catching up our listeners on what you've been up to since you wrote your high, essays in high school? Michael, we'll start with you. [00:09:44] Michael Delorge: Yeah, sure. I think I submitted my essay in the height of the pandemic. And at that point, I don't even know if I knew where I was gonna college at that point. But I've just spent my last three years finishing up my third year here at the University of Maine in Orono. I started as a biology major, pre-med, decided that I did not want to go to med school, and I picked up a political science major and I'm leaning towards going in, into a public health policy in grad school. I've done some work here on the student government. I'm the president of the student government for the remainder of this year and for next year. I've done some work in global public health with this branch of a Portland-based nonprofit called Partners for World Health, and my club here at UMaine is a branch of their chapter and or a branch of their nonprofit. And we sort medical supplies from some local Bangor area hospitals and distribute them down to Portland, who distributes them all over the world. Last May, I got the opportunity to go to Senegal on a, like a non-religious medical mission trip with a nonprofit. And I've done some stuff in voter engagement while I was at UMaine and just try to take advantage of as many opportunities as I possibly can with political science and clubs and whatnot. Yeah, I didn't think I would be here doing this, going to a STEM school in high school studying biology and sciences and stuff like that, but here we are. [00:11:15] Eric Miller: That's fantastic. You clearly, Covid, didn't really slow you down that's all fantastic stuff, Everett, how about you? [00:11:20] Everett Beals: Yeah I guess we're both juniors now I ended up going to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. I had a pretty good idea even before I enrolled anywhere that I want to do environmental science for a bachelor's degree. That's what I stuck with. At Clark, there are three, three tracks and I'm on the environmental science and policy track, so that's a program I've really enjoyed. I also added a minor in creative writing on the suggestion of one of my advisors who's been big help to me, as a personal editor and someone who's helped me push my boundaries. So that's something I've really enjoyed. In terms of extracurriculars I was on Clark's undergraduate student council for two years. And I've been writing for our student newspaper the Scarlet for three years. I'm currently the news editor and next year I'll be the editor in chief. I have a couple jobs on campus that I really enjoy doing. One is that I'm an undergraduate admissions ambassador, and the other is that this year I'm a peer learning assistant for a philosophy class on environmental ethics. So that's what I've been up to in terms of like during the academic year. And yeah I'm pretty happy where I am. [00:12:19] Eric Miller: Oh, that's fantastic. Yeah. I imagine you've read a fair amount of, Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson in your journey. [00:12:25] Everett Beals: Absolutely. [00:12:25] Eric Miller: That's fantastic. As fellow bachelor's in environmental studies myself, really appreciate that. Everett, when you wrote your essay, you had a statement, quote, first and most importantly, we need to emphasize that we as a whole state have to solve the problem together. Could you speak to that problem you discussed in your essay and how collaboration within the state could help solve that issue? [00:12:48] Everett Beals: Yeah, I was trying to recognize basically the geography of the situation we're dealing with. Michael and I are both from New York County. Michael, I know you went to MS SM, which is a lot further north than where we ended up settling. But I was trying to recognize that the state is a big place, and I have grown up in kind like my entire life and I wanted to acknowledge that my experience was siloed. And understanding Maine's history, a lot of the population has been concentrated sort on that bottom southwestern portion, but the state being so large, in fact, so much of it that frankly I have not yet seen myself. I think it's really important, especially with the kinds of frontier communities that I was talking about, Skowhegan being one of them, but also lots of towns like, which are important for my family ties like Millinocket which used to be major industrial centers and now in the recent past have been struggling. I was trying to make it clear because I believe this really firmly that any solution that's going to apply to the entire state of Maine needs to be informed by the entire populace of the state of Maine. So it can't come just from Kennebunk and it can't come just from Orono. It needs to come from everywhere. I know that sounds aspirational. It's vague in a sense, but that was my emphasis that we can't silo any solution that we have, and it's really important to hear every kind of diverse perspective that we have. So that's what I was getting at and trying to start there saying, we need a comprehensive, holistic solution that everyone should be a stakeholder in. Totally fantastically put. Michael, do you have any comments on the same type of issue, like statewide thinking? [00:14:22] Michael Delorge: Yeah. Yeah. I think Maine is not diverse in a lot of ways, but it's very diverse in more ways. I, like Everett said, so Everett and I crossed paths a lot when we were growing up being from neighboring towns. And Everett said, I'm from Bedford in York County, and I had the opportunity to go up to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Arista County in Limestone, Maine. I could see the Canadian border from my dorm room. You can't get that in Bedford, Maine. And now I'm in Central Maine going to college. And I've seen the two Maines that people talk about, that really urban, rural divide. And I wish that more students, young people could see that, because Maine is really diverse in a lot of what it offers geographically. And I definitely agree with what Everett's saying, where we need like a whole state approach to this. There's a lot of communities represented from every corner of the state. And I've noticed that kind of as a student in the University of Maine's system too, when I talk with people that go to other UMS schools it's something that students are aware of too. [00:15:31] Eric Miller: Yeah. And as someone who isn't a native manor myself, but spent quite a few years there, I find that when I describe what Maine's like and what you should do when you visit, don't just stop at Freeport if you're gonna go up the coast, or don't skip all the coast and go straight to Acadia. Those places are all beautiful, but the type of Maine that you get from every stop along the coast from Portland to Lubec, you get so much variation in there, in economy, in population density, in just the natural features. It's just really interesting and this obviously gets way more diverse as you go west inland. No, I completely agree. And oh, go ahead, Everett. [00:16:12] Everett Beals: That divide isn't just like a social thing that, that Mainers have made up in our minds. It's a tangible political boundary between Maine's two congressional districts and Maine is only one of two states that can actually split its electoral votes, right? Yep. So it's a real thing. And as you're saying though, it's really different from town to town, even just one, one town over, even in York County. So I absolutely agree with what you're saying. Yeah. [00:16:33] Eric Miller: Michael, you close your essay by writing, "encouraging young Mainers to feel their own fire and ambition as Senator Smith puts it, while they give back and contribute to their communities and economy, is how we make Maine the way life should be." Could you speak to your experience with the Maine education system and the ways you were encouraged to feel your own fire and ambition? [00:16:55] Michael Delorge: Yeah. I think a lot of what I meant through that wording was just like helping students find their own purpose is really important. Helping students find their own purpose in the state of Maine is also really important. And I think the state should invest in opportunities that allow students to find their own purpose. In, I think 1994 the state allocated funds to found my high school. That's a pretty new school and it's a magnet school. It's all state funded. The taxpayers of the state of Maine, paid for my education rather than the taxpayers of my town. And I am personally very grateful for the education that I received there, not only in science and technology and math, but in political science and social science and humanities. And just the lived experience of being up there. And that was how I found my purpose. But I also know for a lot of students that I would have graduated with in Biddeford High School. They found their purpose through trades or business, which wasn't something I experienced later on in high school. Like I'd talk about in my essay, there were students that I would've graduated with that had multiple trade certifications before I had even figured out where I wanted to go to college. And, for them that was how they found their purpose. And for me I'm still finding mine, but I think the investment in that is really crucial and like just meeting students where they're at, like we talked about just now geographically too, is huge and investing in those opportunities. [00:18:31] Eric Miller: Everett, you have alluded to, but to this by staying the course in, in a subject matter that stayed consistent over the years since before starting college, what's something about like environmental policy or your education that found that you found inspiration or were energized by [00:18:48] Everett Beals: Yeah, I think first off, I really have to thank some of my teachers. Lisa Farrell was my biology teacher, and she also taught IB environmental science. That was one was the intervention of a really good teacher. The other is that I guess we mentioned before when we started this conversation earlier that, Michael and I were both boy scouts, so I had that experience in the first place and I've always like paddling and like kayaking, so that was part of the connection. But another is that, like when you live in Maine it's hard to not be aware of the pressing situation we have globally with global climate change. And to me, just trying to understand that and loop it all back into what's happening in my backyard was really important to me. So that is what motivated me, motivated me to stay on that track. My interests have evolved over time, but no matter what, like that will be my grounding experience was, what I got outta high school. And I'm glad that this is the kind of skillset I've been able to develop as an undergraduate. I think it's really important, and I actually, I just reread your essay, Michael, and you said in, as an example, that Maine students should be learning, like really early on, correct me if I'm wrong, about climate change and about the way that it's affecting our fisheries the way it's affecting more generally, just our agriculture system in general. The way it's happening right here in every town in Maine. I think that's a fantastic idea. And you know it's happening in some classrooms, but maybe not everywhere. And as you said in your essay, that is largely a funding issue. So I think that's one example of that's a great way to bring Maine students to understand the relevancy of the work they're doing in their towns and that gets them involved in their communities. Make them feel, our children should feel like they are stakeholders in their communities and in our climate future. I really like that point you made three years ago. [00:20:26] Michael Delorge: Yeah, thanks. And I'm glad you brought up that thing about like climate change as well because, there are so many great research institutions here in the state and advocacy institutions like, Jackson Laboratory, Bigelow Labs, like those are just two that come to mind that I had some experience with in high school that are like working on, genetics and also like marine research that, can get into local school systems and really partner with local school systems to show students that there are opportunities here for them, waiting for them, after they go to college, maybe somewhere else. And they can come back and contribute to research on the Gulf of Maine, which is the fastest warming body of water in the entire world. And it's right in our backyard. And not a lot of people know that, and there are opportunities here for them, but just like I said, highlighting that. That sense of purpose and that sense of belonging and that Maine is waiting for them here with open arms, I think is important. [00:21:20] Eric Miller: It's amazing what a, a strong sense of place, especially a place like Maine and the guidance from a specific educator and how far that can go. So in a Amanda Rector's 2020 article, "Maine's Changing Demographics: Implications for Workforce, Economy, and Policy" she wrote about the possible benefits of Covid-19 for the state of Maine's demographics with the following passage: "We have had a massive real-time experiment in telework, and for many people in businesses, this has been a success. If people can live anywhere and connect to their jobs remotely, why not live in Maine? Those rural parts of the state that may have seemed too far for some people in the not too distant past suddenly hold new attraction." How do you both feel about this statement? [00:22:04] Michael Delorge: Yeah, I think that, I think that telework has definitely shown people outside of the state that they can move to Maine. I know firsthand folks who do telework in rural Maine, we have a problem with wifi and broadband here in the state of Maine, which I think the legislature is slowly improving and addressing. I don't know that, like my thoughts on this are fully fleshed out. I do know that I like the idea of people moving to Maine year round and committing to the state of Maine. I, after you had emailed us, Eric, to set this up, I just happened to come upon an article in the Bangor Daily News from I think February or something like that, that had to do with rebranding the state from Vacationland to something different because the moniker, the name Vacationland implies low commitment to the state. You can come when you want and you can leave when you want. And just use what we have and then you can leave when you're done your vacation, which is a silly way to think about it. But I think that telework and the ability to work wherever you are bridges the gap between what Maine has and its natural beauty in like the best of both worlds with what we have to provide people this great livelihood and way of life. This, the way life should be. But I'm interested to hear what Everett has to say on this. I, like I said, I don't really know that my thoughts on it are fully fleshed out yet. [00:23:36] Everett Beals: Yeah. This is a tough one. [00:23:37] Michael Delorge: Yeah. [00:23:38] Everett Beals: Amanda Rector wrote this as we did in 2020, and like the workforce itself has changed a lot. And part of her, I think the reason maybe that she wrote that is that it's trying to just predict what might happen with Maine and the entire world was in this really uncertain state. In terms of the way that remote work is going, I can't say I have much experience with it myself. But I am curious specifically, not that it's a zero sum game, about like the amount of like economic productivity and square-scare quotes that brings to the state. Not that like things end at the political borders of the state, but if someone anecdotally, and I don't know if this is true, but people in Facebook comments on Portland Press Herald articles are like, oh, all these people are moving to Bedford or Portland and they're still working in another state. So like what's the benefit for the state of Maine other than the money they're now spending here? I think that, to me is also too pessimistic and we gain a lot from having new knowledge into the state and just we need more people who are actively participating and the municipalities that we have and in our local economies. Something I alluded to, I guess in my essay was that I was thinking about like transit time to get to work, like commute time. And that's a problem in faster the state if you don't have a car. So like it's really great if people are moving, especially to rural towns and energizing like local Main streets. But if the state isn't building the infrastructure for that, or especially to build more affordable housing or just more housing in general to increase the stock that we have. Then to me, a lot of people moving in can be something. I can imagine it being something that might be anxiety inducing for some maybe older people in the workforce. It's a good thing, maybe in net, but I'm, I really can't forecast what exactly it means. So that would be like one concern of mine is, I think like in general, the state should be building a lot more housing. I'm really encouraged actually by speaker Talbot Ross proposing LD 2 recently. Which would basically tackle a statewide houselessness problem by doing housing first statewide, which would a fantastic initiative in my opinion. So that's a long-winded answer to an admittedly challenging question. But that's how I would approach it. [00:25:54] Eric Miller: Yeah. Thank you for entertaining that, that question for us. And because it's, forecasting is, and speculating is largely for the talking heads on whatever channel you'd like to check out. And it is extremely difficult to predict the trade-offs with just a dynamic economy and just public health circumstance that was induced by Covid. And so yeah, it was, I heard many as living in Bangor, many anecdotes of people moving to either Bangor or further north who are very much urbanites in the New York, Massachusetts area and buying up in Aosta County. And it's a conversation in my work that we have quite frequently with the Policy Center about community resilience, emergency response times, and whether it's firefighters or ambulance or what have you. Some of those places are pretty darn rural, and especially if you're coming from a extremely urban setting your expectations of the, of those services may not align with reality at the moment. And that speaks to the infrastructure point that you made Everett. So since you both experienced the Maine education system in, across the state, so in, in Maine, what's something that you felt was potentially missing from your respective experiences and what motivated you to submit your essays? Everett, we'll start with you. [00:27:20] Everett Beals: Yeah. So I, I'm a graduate of Kennebunk High School. I really enjoyed my time there. As I said, I had some great mentors, some great teachers like Lisa Ferrell and also Ms. Moy, who I got a lot of my history background from and who encouraged me to be a good writer. And the, I don't know how many shout outs I should give. I wasn't planning on it, but the person who encouraged me to submit this essay was Ms. Carlson, who's an English teacher at KHS. I was motivated by it because quite frankly, like I, scholarships are really important to me. And college affordability I think is something that Michael and I both wrote about actually in our essays. So like I, this to me was really personal to try and just help. I wanted to contribute to the literature. I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and try my best to try and address that question as a, as an academic challenge. And I guess since this is from the Policy Review Center, as a civic participation thing. But also like I used the scholarship to pay for the computer I'm doing this Zoom on. So for me it was like, it was personally important to try my best to try and make my education affordable. So in terms of answering the first part of your question about the educational system, another thing Michael and I both wrote about and he did a great job explaining earlier about like vocational programs. That was something I concurred with and that I think the state needs a lot more of them. Something that I thought, what really excited me recently was it didn't apply for everyone, but for several graduating years, I wanna say at least three or four community college in the state of Maine is tuition free. I know that has had cascading benefits, especially in the larger University of Maine system and with potential budget shortfalls at Orono. Stuff that I don't think I fully understand, but on the net, like making education more accessible for everyone in the state of Maine and more attractive to people outside of Maine I think is really good. That was something that would've encouraged me to stay at the University of Maine system or to try and invest more my time in it is if it was more affordable at the time I was applying. So I felt like I got a lot outta my high school experience. There's a lot I really liked, and I can absolutely agree with what Michael was saying earlier about, friends and the vocational trades. That's something that is really successful for a lot of main students and making sure that everyone has the same, nice facilities as are available, like in the next, most students in Kennebunk go over to Stanford. They have a brand new regional technical center that is really nice. I pretty sure in Bedford it's also like some really high quality facilities. I wanna make sure that everyone in the state has access to that and not just here in York, Cumberland County. I think that my experience was pretty holistic, but I wanna try and acknowledge that a lot of other Maine students probably weren't as fortunate. So that's how I feel about that. [00:30:02] Michael Delorge: Yeah, I definitely relate to that statement. I was really grateful for my education, but I know that there are others who didn't have the same education I had and the same opportunities. One thing I touch on in my essay is the legislature's obligation to that they made to the taxpayers. When the taxpayers in the state of Maine voted on a 2004 referendum, they voted in favor overwhelmingly in a 2004 referendum that the legislature would pay the majority of municipal school funds for public schools. I don't know what has happened since 2020, but I knew that from the time period where that referendum passed up until 2020 when I wrote my essay, the state had not met that obligation at all for a single year. And what I think that leads to is a lot of in inequity in local school systems all around the state. So when I went to the Maine School of Science and Mathematics up north, I had friends from all these different school systems in Maine, from York to Fort Kent and everywhere in between rich towns, poor towns, rural towns, urban towns, everywhere. And I got to meet a lot of these people and I got to learn about the state through them. But I also know that for a lot of my peers back at Bedford, they didn't have that same opportunity. And so one of the things that came to mind when you asked that question was just recognizing that Maine is a lot more diverse than your one town. And I hope that we as a state can celebrate some of the, going back to our conversation from earlier, like we can celebrate some of the, at least geographic diversity in our state. [00:31:52] Eric Miller: Yeah that's wonderful. Thank you both for submitting those essays. We really appreciate it. And so before we close out you have any final thoughts or comments that you would like to say as we close out here? [00:32:05] Everett Beals: I guess one last thing I'll mention, just building off of the question you just asked about education. Is that the work is not done, obviously, and things are not back to normal after Covid. From a page of the Portland Press Herald on April 25th, the subheader was Maine kids are experiencing more poverty, homelessness, more poverty, homelessness, and mental health emergencies than before the pandemic, and high school graduation rates across the state are dropping. So clearly secondary education, primary education are all suffering statewide. I know this is a national problem, but I think in Maine we have a real resiliency problem with our public education. I think that was something Michael addressed really well in his original essay. So just saying and recognizing, I come from a family of educators who are, have been involved in all kinds of different levels of public education. I just, I know and appreciate, think we all can, how hard that work is, and know that in the vast majority of Maine towns, our teachers are woefully underpaid, they are often struggling for better contracts, and our students deserve the best in the country, right? So there's a lot left to do and I don't have any one answer to, and I don't think any. But there's a lot of knowledge building that's going on thanks to the, this journal and thanks to just people like you guys at the University of Maine. So thank you for the work you're doing. [00:33:33] Eric Miller: You're very welcome. Michael, any closing thoughts? [00:33:36] Michael Delorge: Yeah, ditto. Everett you're very well spoken. Everett and I, like I said, we grew up in a neighboring towns, grew up together. But we also met at this program called Youth in Government. And it's a YMCA program that meets annually on Veterans Day Weekend, where students from high schools all around the state of Maine get together and sit in the seats of their legislators at the State House and play model state. Basically where we write our own bills and we vote on our own bills, and we all assume the positions of our legislators in committee. And then both the House and Senate bodies. And that was the one experience I think in high school that I had, or I guess in my childhood, like before the age of 18, that really helped form my worldview and my thinking. And I just, I'm very grateful for that program and wanted to mention it because I think it informed a lot of my goals for the future and a lot of my views in this essay that I wrote back in 2020. And it also ultimately was what led me to write the essay to even go for applying in the first place, and also led me to meet David Richards down at the Margaret Chase Smith Library, who was the one that encouraged me to apply. So I hope that others can have similar kind of experiential learning opportunities that Everett and I had that helped teach us about our state, and, helped show us that there was a sense of purpose for them in Maine. [00:35:13] Everett Beals: That's a really fun one to do. [00:35:15] Michael Delorge: Yeah. Those are two very excellent closeouts. So you both are 21, right? 21, 22. [00:35:22] Everett Beals: I'm 20, actually 20. I'm young for my class. My birthday's in August. [00:35:25] Eric Miller: Okay. All right. And so I strongly dislike generational labels and especially like pessimism that goes along
S3E8: Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine: An Economic Perspective
25-04-2023
S3E8: Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine: An Economic Perspective
On this episode, we cover an article by Angela Daley, Prianka Sarker, Liam Siguad, Marcella Sorg, and Jamie Wren titled, “Drug-related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine: Lost Productivity from 2015-2020.” Daley is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maine, Sarker and Wren are both research associates at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Sorg a forensic anthropologist, and Siguad a research assistant at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, VA who was a graduate student when this study was conducted. After briefly summarizing the article, we will speak with Dr. Sorg and Prianka Sarker about the opioid epidemic and how we go about quantifying some of the costs of the opioid epidemic. This article was published in volume 31, issue 1, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Daley et al.’s article , which can be found here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1887&context=mpr   Transcript [00:00:00] Eric Miller: Of the significant challenges today, few are as insidious as the opioid crisis, which has divided public discourse and devastated communities across the country. In this episode, we'll recap an article published in 2022, assessing the economic harm of lost labor productivity in Maine. This is the Maine Policy Matters Podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I'm Eric Miller, research associate at the center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today we'll be covering an article by Angela Daley, Priyanka Sarker, Liam Siguad, Marcella Sorg and Jamie Wren titled, "Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine: Lost Productivity from 2015 to 2020". Daley is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maine. Sarker and Wren are both research associates at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, Sorg is a forensic anthropologist, and Siguad is a research assistant at the Mercatus Center in Arlington, Virginia, who was a graduate student at the time the study was conducted. After briefly summarizing the article, we will speak with Dr. Sorg and Priyanka Sarker about the opioid epidemic and how we go about quantifying some of the costs of the opioid epidemic. This article is published in Volume 31, issue 1 of Maine Policy Review, a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Daley et al.'s article, which can be found in the episode description. The increase of prevalence of overdose deaths has been a devastating phenomenon since the pharmaceutical opioids, namely Oxycontin, kicked off an epidemic that has evolved and worsened since the late 1990's. In addition to the heartbreaking losses, there have been significant economic impacts as well, with Maine ranking among the highest in the nation for per capita overdose death rate as of recent years. The emotional toll on individuals, families, and communities is far reaching, leading to poor physical and mental health, reduced quality of life, lost productivity, increased accidents and crime, and higher social welfare and healthcare costs. The economic impact is staggering, estimated at just over 1 trillion in 2017 for the United States and 6.8 billion in 2017 for Maine alone. In this paper, Daley et al. use a human capital approach to estimate loss productivity from drug related morbidity and mortality in Maine. This approach measures the lost value to society that occurs when individuals cannot fully contribute to market and non-market activities. For example, individuals may be less likely to participate in the labor market, or they may be less productive due to absenteeism, problems with concentration and memory, impaired judgment or interpersonal challenges. This loss of productivity negatively affects their earnings as well as their productivity of their employers and the economy as a whole. Of course, drug related morbidity and mortality also affect non-market activities, such as household work, caregiving, and volunteering. There are a lot of statistics and figures published in this piece, so we recommend giving the original article a read if you're interested in learning more, but we'll cover some of the major takeaways. Also, it is important to note that the authors used all illicit drugs, not just opioids, for this analysis. This analysis found that drug related morbidity is lower among females. However, the prevalence of illicit drug use disorder has been increasing for both males and females from 2015 to 2019, and 18-25 year olds are the age group where the percentage of illicit drug use disorder is highest. The annual loss productivity due to drug-related morbidity on market activities was greater than non-market activities for males, and the inverse is true for females. However, due to the higher prevalence of drug use among males led to higher non-market costs than female non-market costs. In 2019, $40 million in market activity and $62 million in non-market activity was lost among females and among males. $104 million in market activity and $64 million in non-market activity was lost. In total for 2019, approximately $144 million in market activity, and $126 million in non-market activity was lost in Maine due to drug-related morbidity. Drug related deaths concentrated among individuals aged from 25-64, so there were many years of potential life lost. In fact, the authors found that among individuals aged from 25-54, account for more than 80% of years of loss productivity in 2020. Life loss productivity in 2020 for females was estimated to be valued at $170 million and $564 million for males yielding a total of about $734 million lost for Maine. Those numbers may be large, but they're also emitting the reduction in quality of life as well as the value of life. Some estimates that include methods of valuing life lost yield much higher economic costs. All of these approaches to understanding the entire societal effect of the overdose epidemic are helping to inform program and policy decisions that aim to address this crisis. And now onto our conversation with Dr. Marcy Sorg and Priyanka Sarker. Thank you both for joining us today as this article covered drug related morbidity and mortality through 2020. While most everyone is aware that the fatal overdose epidemic has gotten worse, what is the current state of the opioid epidemic in Maine and what are some of the primary drivers lately? [00:06:03] Marci Sorg: The opioid epidemic has really continued to challenge Maine in a lot of ways. I can mention several primary drivers, at least from my perspective, and they're all really interrelated. First there's already a large population in Maine that is experiencing addiction to opioids and that population. And it's probably more than 8% of the population of Maine. It potentially grows whenever new users are persuaded to try opioids. And it potentially decreases when people transition from using drugs to long-term recovery or if they pass away. And secondly, drug trafficking is an international problem with influences beyond Maine, beyond our borders, and it's generally out of reach of Maine's policies. Yet it's affecting Maine's epidemic every day. The third thing I could mention is the particular drugs that are trafficked during the last seven or eight years. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl has been the most influential of the drugs. Fentanyl is a really rapid acting opioid, and it's a lot stronger and more potentially lethal than other opioids that were common in the past. And it causes approximately 80% of Maine's drug deaths, although, most of those drug deaths have more than one drug. So fentanyl's just one of usually three or four. The fourth thing that I mentioned, and there are five things altogether is the access to appropriate treatment modalities. And that includes not only the medications like Suboxone and methadone, but also and very important inpatient and outpatient treatment programs and peer support programs. Maine's been working pretty hard to increase treatment resources. The fifth thing is stigma. Addiction is still mostly hidden from public view not only from the public at large, but healthcare providers and even users themselves engage in stigmatizing behaviors. It creates barriers to treatment, barriers to problem solving, and it's a strong barrier to asking for help. Many of the persons who die from overdose are using alone. We believe partly due to stigma. And there may be no one who notices they have overdosed until it's too late to reverse the overdose. So these are five things that I think are main drivers of the problem in Maine today. [00:09:10] Eric Miller: Thank you Marci. And as a data researcher on this team myself, it's really hard to parse exactly how much influence each of those drivers have. And as it is a data scarce problem we can just try to get whatever insights we can. And so, especially since the, in the Covid 19 pandemic coming in 2020, that was hypothesized to be linked toward deaths. But it's even really hard to parse out on the data end how much influence Covid-19 has had on fatal overdoses. We just know that it came along with more illicit supply and other such factors and increased housing costs and what have you. The Covid-19 rise in fatal overdoses. How does Maine seem to compare to other states? [00:10:01] Marci Sorg: After Covid-19 was over there's still a residual effect that's pretty important. I think it's important to also, to mention that the deaths from drug overdoses, they're a national problem, not just a Maine problem. And it takes up to two years for the state data to filter up to the federal data and be shown in drug rates and overdose rates and so forth. And, so it takes two years before we can get numbers that'll allow us to compare one state to another, and that's a pretty important thing. Right now, we're in 2023. We are dealing with 2021 data. We have some preliminary data from 22, but mostly it's 2021. So that is still sort of within the pandemic. What happens at the federal level when the state data come up is that they get normalized so that the state age structures, for example, are weighted so that they can be compared. So the federal CDC has reported that the US age adjusted drug overdose death rate was 32.4 deaths per a hundred thousand population. That's for the country as a whole. The highest rates were in West Virginia and they had 90, Columbia had 63.6 now. So that's the range for the highest. Maine's rate in 2021 was 46. For all drugs, that is, not just opioids. It we were number seven in the country for all drugs. If you look just at opioids, we rank at 41.4 deaths per hundred thousand, and that's number five in the country. So it's pretty high. For comparison, Vermont, both Vermont and New Hampshire are less than Maine. Maine's, vermont was 39.4 and New Hampshire was 30.7. So they're a little bit lower than Maine, the lowest in the country. By the way, we're in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa, which were 11 and 13 and 15 respectively. So that's a lot lower than these other states, including us. Provisional data for 2022 at least, from our perspective as in collecting those data, it suggests that 2022 increase was about 10%. [00:12:42] Eric Miller: Very interesting. It's so hard to, or so fascinating rather, to assess these regional trends and how various populations are affected by different substances more so than others. Because the plain states that have a lower rate of opioid age adjusted rate fatal overdoses, have other substance uses that are more dominant in, in those areas. Not the, to the extent is not necessarily the same across all states and substance epidemic type of course, but it's, it is something that is, is kind of curious in the public health researcher perspective. And so this. Huge impact, of course, has the human cost. And one difficult thing is assessing and quite often controversial and highly debated thing, is assessing the economic impact of the opioid crisis. And while there's several different ways to do it we'll focus on the one that was discussed in the article that was published in Maine Policy Review, and that is years of Potential Life Lost. So, Priyanka, would you mind explaining the concept of years of potential life lost and how it factors into the calculation of economic cost in this paper? [00:13:58] Prianka Sarker: Yes, of course. So the concept of years of potential life lost means the years lost due to premature mortality. In other words, when a person dies before an expected normal age, then the gap we have between their age at death and the age that they would have otherwise lived. It's called the potential years lost. We have different life expectancy for both males and females based on the age groups and we usually expect people to leave approximately up to that age. For example, if say there is a 40 year old person, we would normally expect them to live, say another 40 years. Now if they die from an avoidable cause like drug overdose today, then we would be losing those 40 years. So for example, if we have 10 people from that age group dying from overdoses today, then we would have a total of 400 years of potential life lost. Now in our paper, we attempt to calculate the productivity loss that is associated with these years of potential life lost. We tried to measure the value of productivity that would have been possible to achieve, if we could have avoided this drug related deaths that occurred during the study period in the state of Maine. So as long as a person is alive and they're active, they're contributing to the economy in various ways, like by working in the labor market, doing household shores, taking care of children, or by volunteering. So when people die prematurely from drug overdoses, we lose several productive years from their lives. In our paper, we calculate the annual as well as the total lifetime value of these productive years for each person. And once we have an estimate for each person, multiplying that by number of debts, then give us a sense of how much productivity losses are occurring in the state due to this premature deaths. [00:16:15] Eric Miller: For those of you who would like some more nitty gritty details, you're more welcome to reference the paper. But that was a great overview of how you all came to those numbers in the paper. So this essay specifically will be included in a larger cost report that I'm actually leading the charge on. There are several previous iterations of this cost report dating back to 2000. So there's one published in 2000, 2005 and 2010. And then we'll be publishing an update that includes 2020 in the near future. Due to the changes in the, and waves in the opioid epidemic is it safe to expect that the economic cost to be increasing. [00:16:59] Prianka Sarker: I think it's fairly safe to expect higher economic costs in the upcoming report. As you have said that the current analysis that we have in our paper will form a portion of the last larger cost report, which is under preparation. One reason I reiterate that is in our paper, we only consider the cost from lost productivity. There are many other costs associated with substance use disorder, such as treatment costs, reduced quality of life, incarceration, social welfare, and such other costs, and as you say, those will be covered in the larger report. So in our paper, even though we focused only on the productivity aspect, still, the numbers are high compared to productivity losses that were calculated in the earlier version of the reports. The last iteration of the cost report from Maine, which you mentioned in 2010. So that estimated the cost around 1.4 billion. And in 2017, a report which was based on the entire USA. And that focused only on the cost of opioids alone, estimated the cost for Maine to be around 6.8 billion. So just looking at the trends, I think, yes, it's pretty safe to expect the numbers to be quite high in the upcoming report compared to the earlier ones. [00:18:26] Eric Miller: Yeah, it's incredible what's been happening. And tragic, of course. The larger cost report will also include alcohol, which I think will, which people will find surprising, the degree of alcohol, use related disorders and mortality. And how the magnitude of effect economic costs that has as well. Because more people die due to alcohol related disorders than opioid. But it's really difficult to capture all of the alcohol related deaths because if someone dies of old age but was an alcoholic, then it's considered a natural death. So, we are undercounting in our analysis, but we kind of have to recognize that and state that in our assessment. So we have addressed the, increased economic cost of lives lost. What are some measures being implemented to address the crisis, and what are some significant barriers we face as public health researchers? [00:19:26] Marci Sorg: I guess I can answer that. Maine has really been working very hard to address the crisis for a while, and to make those actions visible to the public. And that's done on mainedrugdata.org, a website where all the data are kept and updated all the time. I'll mention just a few things. One of the most important areas has been the increase in distribution of overdose reversal drug, naloxone, or it's sometimes called Narcan, that's the trade name. Naloxone is used by both law enforcement and the emergency system. Both EMS and the emergency room use it as well as community members. They use it to reverse overdoses. If the person's still found, they are still alive, and the state has distributed hundreds of thousands of doses over the last seven years. So we, we do publish the absolute numbers of the distribution on the Maine drug data.org website. The second thing I'll mention is improving access to care in rural areas. The development of the options program, and that acronym stands for Overdose Prevention through intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety. And that program has increased the pathways to recovery and treatment. It uses what's called a non-responder model. Options liaisons are people that are hired in each county to respond to overdoses talk to the person who survives an overdose, and provide referrals to resources and referrals to treatment, depending on the needs of that person That program has recently been expanded quite a bit. The third thing I'll mention is treatment. And people need treatment not only to have it, but to have it close to where they live and work. Unfortunately though and part of this is due to Covid pandemic, there's been a real labor shortage in healthcare and it's slowed the expansion of treatment programs. However, these, the numbers of treatment programs have been increasing in the state. [00:21:51] Eric Miller: Thank you for plugging Maine Drug Data Hub. We'll have a link to that in the description of this episode as well. You can find all sorts of data and reports if you would like to learn more. This upcoming question wouldn't have been mentioned if it wasn't making headlines in the past couple months. But the FDA recently made Naloxone or Narcan a product that could be acquired over the counter. There's been a lot of speculation of how this could help deter overdose deaths. But we, it's really difficult to completely understand. And so some, we're going to ask our guests to do some friendly speculating as to what exactly that change in the rule from the FDA will, how that will affect the overdose crisis. [00:22:36] Marci Sorg: Yeah, I've got a couple comments here. Apparently this over-the- counter Naloxone will not be rolled out until the summertime. So it's not happening right now yet. In order to get over-the-counter Naloxone, the customer is still going to have to pay for it at the pharmacy. And so that price range that will be charged is not yet known. It's also not known if they're going, the, if Naloxone's going to be offered in all of the pharmacies or how much of it's going to be available? Unfortunately we think that the presence of stigma, which is still very much present in our communities, may still keep people from asking for it at their pharmacies. And also we think that the price may be a deterrent, particularly for low income folks. Maine's program of state funded Naloxone is likely to continue in the next little while, even after the over-the-counter Naloxone is available and it's going to be a pretty important source for people who can't afford to buy it. This program, it's called the Maine Naloxone Distribution Initiative, MNDI, it provides Naloxone at no cost to a group of four tier one distributor organizations who then distribute it to a wide range of tier two organizations and individuals. Anyone who is in need of reversing overdoses regularly or maybe just needs to have it on hand. [00:24:18] Eric Miller: Thank you so much for indulging in some speculation there. It's of course, it's very difficult for us in this field to assess what is happening in data that's in, or the present day, what's in front of us, let alone projecting into the future, and especially with a massive real change like this. So we've covered quite a bit of ground here in the, just touching the opioid crisis as a whole, as well as some of the economic factors. But are there some other things regarding this subject that you all would like to share that we haven't already covered? [00:24:51] Marci Sorg: I guess it's important to just say that Maine's working really hard to understand the issues that are faced by people living with substance use disorder. And we're focused on opportunities for, intervention and effective resources. We're looking much more at people who survive overdoses and at non-fatal overdose events. We've increased the availability of public data as we've mentioned already today. Maine also provides a monthly overdose report, and I wanted to mention that. And that report has statistics just from the previous month that, it uses suspected overdoses. Some of those cases haven't been confirmed, but we have a pretty good idea how many of them are going to turn into confirmed overdoses. Those data are provisional and they change slightly. But we now have a pretty timely idea of the overdose trends on a monthly basis. And it includes not only the fatal overdoses, but the non-fatal overdoses that are reported to us by the Naloxone distributors by the EMS, by the emergency room, and all of these events. Fatal and non-fatal add up to big numbers which shows us the real size of the problem. Finally, I will mention that I think the discussions about overdose and substance use disorder are much more likely these days to be taking place in public spaces. And that suggests to us that stigma has been declining. In the broader community, and I think that's a very meaningful change. [00:26:45] Eric Miller: I strongly agree. Thank you both so much for joining us today and shed some light on and update the paper that was published recently in Maine Policy Review. What you just heard was Dr. Marcella Sorg and Priyanka Sarker's discussion of their article, "Drug-related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine: Lost Productivity from 2015 to 2020," and the current state of the opioid epidemic. Maine Policy Review is a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. The editorial team for Maine Policy Review is made up of Joyce Rumery, Linda Silka, and Barbara Harrity. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. A thank you to Jayson Heim and Katherine Swacha, script writers for Maine Policy Matters, and to Daniel Soucier, our production consultant. In two weeks, we'll be discussing changing demographics in Maine and how attractive Maine is to young people. We'd like to thank you for listening to Maine Policy Matters from the Margeret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. You can find us online by searching Maine Policy Matters on your web browser. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on your preferred social media platform to stay updated on new episode releases. I'm Eric Miller. Thanks for listening and please join us next time on Maine Policy Matters.
S3E7: A Tale of Maine’s Public Lots: Loss and Recovery
11-04-2023
S3E7: A Tale of Maine’s Public Lots: Loss and Recovery
In this episode, we cover an article by Richard Barringer, Lee Schepps, Tomas Urquhart, and Martin Wilk titled “Maine’s Public Reserved Lands: A Tale of Loss and Recovery”. The authors tell us a story of Maine’s public reserved lots and its history to show how efforts to maintain these lots have preserved Maine’s natural heritage. This article was published in volume 29, number 2, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Barringer et al.’s article , which can be found here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1843&context=mpr Transcript [00:00:00] Eric Miller: To preserve the crown jewels of Maine's heritage, tune into today's episode to learn about Maine's consolidated public lots and how they can remain for public use and enjoyment as long as they are valued, accessed, and safeguarded from harm. [00:00:22] This is the Maine Policy Matters Podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I'm Eric Miller, research associate at the Center. [00:00:30] On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today we'll be covering an article by Richard Barringer, Lee Schepps, Tomas Urquhart, and Martin Wilk titled "Maine's Public Reserved Lands: A Tale of Loss and Recovery." [00:00:47] Richard Barringer is author and editor of numerous books, reports and landmark Maine laws in the areas of land use and conservation education, the environment, energy, sustainable development, and tax policy. Lee Schepps represented the state of Maine in the public lots matter, both in the litigation and as the second director of the Bureau of Public Lands. Thomas Urquhart was formerly executive director of the Maine Audubon Society, where forest practices and the opportunities offered by Maine's North Woods were among his top priorities. Martin Wilk represented the state of Maine in the public lots litigation and in the settlement negotiations that followed the Maine Supreme Court's decision in the state's favor. [00:01:31] The authors tell us a story of Maine's public reserved lots and its. History to show how efforts to maintain these lots has preserved Maine's natural heritage. This article was published in Volume 29, number 2 of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Barringer et al.'s article, which can be found in the episode description. [00:01:58] In 1820, when Maine separated from Massachusetts, it acquired a public domain of 10 to 12 million acres, which was later reduced to 8 million acres. The Maine Constitution required the state to reserve four lots of 320 acres each in any newly organized township. Later, the formula was changed to a single, 1,000 acre lot in each new township for "public use." The legislature authorized the state land agent to sell the "right to cut and carry away the timber and grass" from the public lots in 1850. In 1874, the legislature tried to terminate the Office of Land Agent, but it did not have the power to do so, and the office was eventually abolished in the 1920s. Responsibility for the public lots passed to the Maine Forest Service in 1891. By the early 1970s, the Maine state government had undergone significant changes. In 1972, there were concerns about the state's stewardship of the public lots, and the Attorney General looked into the legal issues surrounding ownership and responsibility for them. [00:03:08] Schepps researched the history of public land reservations, timber trespass, and forestry practices in Massachusetts and Maine. He found that professional forest management was not a concept in the early and mid-1800s, and that it only came into practice through early forestry pioneers such as Gifford Pinchot. Schepps also looked into the legal disputes involving the word "timber" and argued that if the original deeds only granted the right to cut and carry away the existing timber, the duration of that right could not expand its substance. Schepps submitted his report to the Attorney General, but it was not released to the public. However, due to the relentless reporting of Bob Cummings, the issue became highly publicized and politically charged in Maine. [00:03:58] In 1973, Jon Lund became attorney general of Maine and released the Schepps report, which argued that the right to cut timber on public reserve lands only applied to the standing timber at the time of sale, not subsequent growth. The report also stated that the state had legal rights of use and access to public lots that had not been located on the ground. The legislature created a joint select committee to investigate the matter and pass legislation to terminate timber rights on public lots, leading to a lawsuit by paper companies and landowner seeking adjudication of their rights. They argued that the state's persistent and long-standing course of conduct barred from asserting rights it may have once have had. The state counter-claimed, stating that the timber cutting rights had expired because the timber in existence at the time of the conveyance had long since been cut. The lawsuit was then used politically to delay consideration of the grand plantation legislation that would terminate cutting rights. [00:04:59] Then the Maine legislature created a Bureau of Public Lands, to manage the state's interests in public lands. However, the agency had no staff or direction, and its mission was unclear. In 1974, the Maine Forest Service Director assigned a desk, a vehicle, a forester, and a forest ranger to the Bureau of Public Lands. [00:05:19] The Bureau of Public Lands led by Richard Barringer, surveyed public lands and proposed a grand plantation, but public sentiment was lukewarm. However, in June of that year, the president of the Great Northern Paper Company, Robert Hellendale, approached Governor Curtis to suggest a negotiated settlement to the disputed public lots. Over the summer and fall, Barringer and Helendale negotiated an agreement to consolidate the 60,000 scattered public lots into a small number of high value places that Great Northern Paper Company owned outright. In December, 1974, governor Curtis and Helendale signed the agreement which violated a long established behavioral norm among paper companies and large private landowners. However, Helen's action broke the political log jam, and over the next five years, all but one of the paper companies engaged in similar exchanges with the Bureau of Public Lands. [00:06:14] In November, 1974, Attorney General Erwin ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Governor against Democrat George Mitchell and independent James Longley in the wake of the Watergate scandal and President Nixon's resignation in August, 1974, Longley won a surprising victory among Maine voters. [00:06:33] In 1975, shortly after the Great Northern Paper Company trade was consummated, Barringer was nominated by Governor Longley to become commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation. Schepps subsequently became director of the Bureau of Public Lands; John Walker, director of the Maine Forest Service; and Herb Hartman, director of the Bureau of Parks and Recreation. Together, the four agreed on a strategy for dealing with the claims of the remaining paper companies and private landowners. [00:07:03] Using the same value-for-value approach and selection criteria as used with the Great Northern Paper Company, Schepps and his staff evaluated and proposed lands for consolidation, negotiated trade deals with paper companies, and sought approval from the legislature to add another dozen consolidated parcels to the Bureau of Public Lands land-holdings. In each exchange, landowners claimed to be donating the timber rights on the public lots and took tax deductions. Subject to the outcome of the Cushing v. Lund litigation. The Bureau of Public Lands grew as forest operations and other management activities expanded to hundreds of thousands of acres of newly consolidated units. [00:07:43] Schepps shared information about lands he believed might best be acquired with Barringer, Walker and Hartman for their consideration and approval. Schepps then negotiated a trade based on tax-value for tax-value, without separate appraisals. The state accepted no discount to the value of its own lands because they were scattered, largely inaccessible, and in many cases small minority interests not located on the ground. The private landowners in each case received a release of any liability for timber trespass. In the past, if the state were to prevail in the litigation and claim tax deductions for the assessed value of their timber rights, if the state were to lose the litigation. Each of the trades thus negotiated were consummated after the proposed contract was approved by resolve of the legislature. [00:08:34] Meanwhile, back in the courts, the lawsuit which spanned 125 years and involved voluminous documentary evidence, was assigned to a retired Supreme Court Justice Donald Webber, who considered two main concerns. One, whether the cutting rights related only to timber in existence at the time they were conveyed, and two, whether the cutting rights were limited to certain sizes and species of trees considered timber at the time. The two issues were presented to Justice Webber based on a Stipulated Record of over 1,000 pages and more than 250 exhibits. Two days after evidentiary hearings were held during which the state presented as its lead witness, University of Maine, Professor David C. Smith, on the contemporaneous meaning of the term timber in the timber and grass deeds. [00:09:22] After evidentiary healing hearings and presentation of expert testimony, the referee ruled in favor of the private landowners stating that the cutting rights included all standing timber in existence at the time they were sold, as well as timber growing on the land thereafter. The state appealed the judgment. The court ultimately ruled in favor of the state, stating that the cutting rights related only to the timber in existence at the time the rights were conveyed and that these rights had been exhausted. [00:09:51] The court did not address the party's subsequent conduct or the effect it may have under various legal doctrines. The private landowners had continued to harvest timber on the public lots until the present, which the state claimed were unauthorized and entitled to it to damages for the value of all such timber. The court left it to the state to determine how to proceed with a final settlement given the potential damages were substantial. The court also recognized the special status of the state as a trustee of the public lots stating that it held title to them in its sovereign capacity. [00:10:26] In the 1980s, there was a legal battle in Maine between the state government and private landowners over the control of millions of acres of forest land. The state believed that these private landowners had harvested timber from state-owned land without authorization, resulting in significant economic losses to the state. The landowners resisted the state's proposals for land exchanges and were initially united in their opposition. [00:10:50] The state government, however, came up with a comprehensive proposal to resolve the issue which it presented to the private landowners at a meeting called by Governor Joseph Brennan. The proposal involved consolidating public lots to compensate for the timber value lost over the past six decades of company harvesting. The landowners were shocked and angry and left the meeting without reaching an agreement. [00:11:13] For the next three years, the state government negotiated with the private landowners to settle all outstanding issues. Initially, little progress was made as both sides refused to budge from their positions. Then, in a surprise move, Seven Islands Land company on behalf of the heirs of David Pingree, broke from the other private landowners and entered an into negotiations directly with the state. The Pingree settlement became the standard for all future settlements, and the other private land owners began to rethink their opposition to the state's proposals. [00:11:44] The state government focused its efforts on landowners who were most amenable to settlement and deferred discussion with those who were most reluctant. The one at a time negotiating strategy proved effective, and all of the remaining landowners eventually came to the table and entered into mutually agreeable land exchanges. The state government claimed damages of approximately $50 million for unauthorized cutting since the 1920s, which accrued added value to the state, in addition to the value of the extraordinary lands acquired. During the eight years of litigation before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rendered its historic decision in favor of the state, the land holdings in Bureau of Public Lands unchallenged jurisdiction increased from 50,000 to 600,000 acres. Meanwhile, the state government drafted two far-reaching Maine laws to improve the management of public lots according to the principles of multi-use, and to create the nonlapsing revenue account for their improvement in public access and use. These laws have stood the test of time and have been used as models by other states in their management of large blocks of multi-use land. [00:12:51] In 1972, there was this dispute between the Baxter State Park Authority and the Great Northern Paper Company, over the latter's rights to residual cutting in one of the two scientific management townships located in the north end of the park, which had been acquired by Governor Baxter in 1962. The controversy was based on the application of the multiple use concept and law that guided the management of federal lands by the US Forest Service, particularly the provisions of the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of June 1960. [00:13:26] The multiple-use concept in law prescribed that public lands should be managed in a way that ensures their sustained use for various purposes, such as recreation grazing, timber harvesting, wildlife habitat, and water conservation. This approach aims to balance the needs of different user groups and ensure that the resources are not overexploited or degraded. [00:13:50] Schepps, who was the assistant attorney general at the time, was familiar with the federal multiple-use mandate and used it as a framework to build a case against Great Northern Paper Company's harvesting techniques in the township. The case aimed to limit the Great Northern Paper Company's cutting rights in line with the principles of scientific forest management, which entails managing the forest for long-term productivity, ecological health, and multiple benefits. [00:14:16] In Maine, the multiple-use mandate for managing public reserve lands is based on the Federal Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of June 1960. This law requires that all renewable resources on federal land, such as timber, water range, and recreation, be managed in a way that ensures their sustained yield or maximum use without degrading the environment. [00:14:36] Overall, Schepps used the federal multiple-use concept and law as a precedent to establish the principles of scientific forest management and the sustainable use of natural resources in the Baxter State Park controversy. This approach helped resolve the dispute between the state and the Great Northern Paper Company and laid the groundwork for future management of public lands in Maine and elsewhere. [00:14:59] In 1974, Schepps wrote, "Maine's Public Lots: The Emergence of a Public Trust." In it, he stated that no precise legal definition of what constitutes a public trust and different examples can exist along a spectrum At one extreme, large public domains inherited by states such as Maine can be considered assets of the state similar to surplus land or the balance in a state's bank account, the state acts as proprietor and has full power over their disposition and use. At the other end of the spectrum, there are public trusts such as Baxter State Park in Maine, where the state is just the nominal owner for the benefit of the general public and the judicial branch of the government has large powers with respect to the use and disposition of such public trust assets. [00:15:48] Under US law, courts enforce and protect the beneficiaries of trust. For example, the US Supreme Court has held that submerged lands in Lake Michigan are not merely public domain, but constitute a public trust. Maine's public reserve lands, which are explicitly required to be reserved by the Maine Constitution, appear to enjoy special and restricted status and their use and protection for the people of Maine ultimately and properly reside with the judicial branch of the state government. Schepps brought attention to the fact that if the legislative or executive branch of Maine state government decides to use the public reserve lands for a purpose that strays from the existing authorized use, the judicial branch may be willing to assert its traditional power with respect to public trusts. [00:16:34] Maine's success in implementing environmental protection policies in the face of strong opposition from the state's powerful lumber and power interests, interests that had outsized influence over economic affairs relative to most every other state was due to a rare alignment of factors, including a free press, sustained leadership, support from the legislature and judiciary, talented staff, strong analysis, good teamwork, skillful negotiation, calculated risk taking, devotion to the task, good timing, good luck, and personal courage. The issue was made public by persistent private citizens and intrepid reporters, and the presidents of two private companies broke the tradition to support the effort. [00:17:16] Environmental consciousness was growing in Maine and the nation, and the right people came together to meet the challenge with an abiding belief in the public interest, government as an instrument of the public good and unceasing teamwork as the vehicle of high accomplishment. The passage concludes with quotes from retired landowners who now accept and feel satisfied with the policy changes. [00:17:38] And what of the landowners today, some 40 years later? In the afterward of his forthcoming book, Thomas Urquhart writes, "With the passage of time, much of the bitterness around the struggle has termed to acceptance, even a feeling of satisfaction." Urquhart quotes Brad Wellman, retired president of Pingree Associates: "Take away all of the resentment and whatnot, I think the result has been good for both the landowners and the State." And Roger Milliken, president of Baskahegan Company, stated that "the dominant-use policy [was] farsighted, an example of Maine leading, and ecological reserves never would've happened otherwise." [00:18:24] Timber harvesting-related controversy began once again in 2011 when Doug Denico, a corporate forest manager, appointed by Governor Paul LePage, proposed a more intensive commercial approach to timber management in the public lots. Denico ordered a 61% increase in harvesting without consultation with the bureau or public comment. This led to a years-long encounter between the Maine Forest Service and the Bureau of Public Lands, as well as between the executive and legislative branches of Maine government over management of the public lots and access to the public reserved lands trust fund for non-trust purposes. [00:19:01] The governor's office proposed using the trust fund to pay for a cash rebate from the state to replace old, inefficient home-heating furnaces with energy efficient wood pellet boilers. The trust fund had pre been previously used for an unrelated purpose in 1992, but authorizing legislation from the government for the MPFA proposal, LD 1468 was voted down by the legislature. [00:19:28] Governor LePage won a second term in 2014 and proposed cutting more timber on the public reserved lands to prepare for potentially devastating spruce budworm outbreak in the Maine woods. However, Robert Seymour, a longstanding member of the Bureau of Public Lands Silvicultural Advisory Committee, called the governor's rationale an unnecessary scare tactic to secure more revenue from the public lots, for a favored public response. In response, LePage proposed splitting the Bureau of Parks and Lands between a new Bureau of Conservation, and the Maine Forest Service. [00:20:04] In 2015, the state of Maine considered changes to its management of public reserve lands, which are protected by a constitutionally mandated trust. Governor Paul LePage proposed increasing the annual timber harvest from 141,500 cords to 180,000 cords to generate additional revenue for the state, but opponents argued that this would threaten the long-term sustainability of the forests and violate the terms of the trust. A special commission was established to study the issue and ultimately recommended maintaining the existing allowable cut, conducting regular forest inventories, and providing oversight by the legislature. [00:20:45] The historic importance of this commission's deliberations was underscored in a letter dated September 23rd, 2015, signed by five former conservation commissioners- Richard Barringer, Richard Anderson, Ronald Lovaglio, Edward Meadows, and Patrick McGowan. On October 26th, 2015, then-Attorney General Janet Mills sent a written opinion regarding the legal risks of rating a constitutionally protected trust fund. A definitive answer would have to come from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court she argued, but based on the 1992 case, the governor's proposal "would likely meet great skepticism." Further, public reserved land dollars spent on state parks would replace general fund monies effectively making trust money interchangeable with general fund revenue, which is not permitted." [00:21:36] The special commission released its unanimous report with recommendations in December, 2015. Mindful of the attorney general's warning, it did not include money for Efficiency Maine among its recommendations. The Bureau of Public Lands should maintain a cash operating account of $2.5 million a year against unexpected costs; a forest inventory should be undertaken the next year and every five years thereafter, and Bureau of Public Lands Foresters should make decisions on harvest levels, subject to ACF Committee oversight by the legislature. [00:22:09] Governor LePage attacked the commission and its report as well as the bill that would implement its findings. The legislature passed LD 1629, however, and the governor promptly vetoed it. The legislature's vote to override his veto fell nine votes short. In 2016, Senator Saviello again presented a bill to implement the committee's recommendations, which passed, and again, the governor vetoed it. The Environmental Priorities Coalition, a partnership of 34 Environmental Conservation and public health groups, took up the battle this time and the legislature succeeded in overriding the Governor's veto. [00:22:46] These possibilities would have to wait, however, upon a new gubernatorial administration. In January 2019, Democrat Janet Mills succeeded Paul LePage to become Maine's first female governor. Amanda Beal, the new ACF Commissioner, previously led the Maine Farmland Trust's efforts to revitalize Maine's rural landscape. Andy Cutko, the new Bureau of Public Lands director, is an ecologist who has worked for the Maine Natural Areas Program and the Nature Conservancy. He comes to his position with a depth of knowledge about the public reserve lands, and well equipped to manage these natural treasures as they were intended for the people of Maine and our visitors, for their many and diverse values. [00:23:29] Bill Patterson, the new deputy director of the Bureau of Public Lands, when the original article was published in Maine Policy Review, believes that an important challenge facing the agency is to increase public awareness and appreciation of these lands, "where they are, how and for what purpose they're managed, and what is their potential to serve Maine people and are growing numbers of visitors." To this end, he'll seek to improve the management capacity and tools available to his staff to identify for improvement particular sites with high demand and large need, and invest in their future by leveraging the new federal America's great outdoors monies for strategic investments. [00:24:10] Forty years of experience teaches that the public reserve lands are at once a high-value and highly vulnerable asset- vulnerable to periodic raids on the trust fund, to meet emergency political needs, and to takeover by private commercial interests. If it is to succeed in this new opportunity, the Bureau of Public Lands must take the offensive and build a comprehensive strategy to broaden public knowledge of the public reserved lands and their many values to improve public access to them and to the facilities they offer, and realize their potential to help strengthen Maine's rural economy. [00:24:46] This strategy will be best created in collaboration with other state and federal agencies and private organizations that leverage Maine's exceptional outdoor recreation assets to increase economic opportunity and revitalize remote rural communities. Most of all, if there great potential is to be realized, the Bureau of Public Lands must take care to build abiding support for the public reserve lands among the citizens of Maine, just as Governor Baxter did for his own renowned state park. [00:25:14] These lands must become part of all that Maine people know, understand, enjoy, take pride in and love. They will endure and become all they might be, only as part of Maine people's hearts, minds imaginations, and ongoing conversations. [00:25:29] Finally, then one may ask, what is the overriding lesson in all of this for all of us? It is to heed the words often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, "Eternal vigilance is the price of Liberty, then, now, and always.". [00:25:47] What you just heard was Richard Barringer, Lee Schepps's, Tomas Urquhart's and Mark Wilk's perspectives on Maine's Public reserved lands. Maine Policy Review is a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. [00:26:01] The editorial team for Maine Policy Review is made up of Joyce Rumery, Linda Silka and Barbara Harrity. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. A thank you to Jayson Heim and Kathryn Swacha, script writers for the Maine Policy Matters podcast. And to Daniel Soucier, our production consultant. [00:26:16] In two weeks, we will be hearing from me the host Eric Miller, Marci Sorg, and Priyanka Sarker on "Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality in Maine". [00:26:26] We'd like to thank you for listening to Maine Policy Matters from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. You can find us online by searching Maine Policy Matters on your web browser. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on your preferred social media platform and stay updated on new episode releases. [00:26:41] I am Eric Miller. Thanks for listening and please join us next time on Maine Policy Matters.
S3E6: Empowering Maine’s Women Through Community Leadership
28-03-2023
S3E6: Empowering Maine’s Women Through Community Leadership
Today, we will be following up on a 2018 Maine Policy Review article titled, “Our Path: Empower Maine Women Network and Leadership” by interviewing the authors Parivash Rohani, Oyinloluwa Fasehun, Ghomri Rostampour, Bethany Smart, and Laura de Does along with a conversation with Cathy Lee, co-founder of the Empower Network. Their article was published in volume 27, number 1, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Policy Center. The article can be accessed here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1807&context=mpr Link to "Justice for Women Lecture": https://mainelaw.maine.edu/events/justice-for-women-lecture/   Transcript Welcome to Maine Policy Matters, a podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I am Eric Miller, Research Associate at the Center. Today, we will be following up on a 2018 Maine Policy Review article titled, “Our Path: Empower Maine Women Network and Leadership” by interviewing the authors Parivash Rohani, Oyinloluwa Fasehun, Ghomri Rostampour, Bethany Smart, and Laura de Does along with a conversation with Cathy Lee, co-founder of the Empower Network. Their article was published in volume 27, number 1, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Policy Center. The article can be accessed in the description of this episode. In 2016, Mufalo Chitam (now the executive director of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition) and Catherine Lee (founder of Justice for Women) created the Empower Maine Women Network, referred to as the Empower Network. Their goal was to address the isolation New Mainer women felt and to give women who have long called Maine their home the chance to interact with new members of their community. Mufalo was unavailable for an interview, so we will do a reading of her section of the article: On March 12, 2018, I stood in a room at the Maine State House in Augusta on behalf of my organization, the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (MIRC), to testify against a bill, LD 1833 “An Act to Facilitate Compliance with Federal Immigration Law by State and Local Government Entities.” My daughter Grace was home on spring break, and while it was a privilege to have her there in the room to witness the work I have been so passionate about for much of her young life, it was also heartbreaking. Eighteen years ago (Now 23 years ago), I met a young man in my African country of Zambia. He was on vacation, and we met just a couple months before my husband, my then 2-year-old daughter, and I were about to emigrate to America. His words to me were simple: “Please come to Portland, Maine. It is a safe place to raise your family and even though there are few immigrants, Mainers are very nice and welcoming.” If LD 1833 had passed, it would have changed not only this narrative, but also how my daughter feels about Maine, the only place she has called home. That day I was upholding our humanity, a value my late father taught me at an early age, so that this bill would not make immigrants feel less welcome in Maine. I have spent my whole life constantly looking for small opportunities and for connections to improve someone else’s tomorrow. My role as executive director of MIRC grew from working with immigrant women from diverse countries, ethnicities, and religions. Leadership is seen in suffrage, shown in courage, tolerance, and kindness, and is driven by strength. End of passage. Empower network met regularly in Portland to connect New Mainers with nonimmigrant women so they could talk about the challenges they face and how to help each other overcome these challenges, as well as to highlight opportunities for engagement in the community. The meetings offered a special presentation featuring women speakers making a significant contribution to the Maine community. On March 24th, 2018, the women that penned the original piece sat down to discuss the concept of leadership and their definition of what makes a leader. They were asked to reflect on the idea of empowerment and specifically tie empowerment to kindness, suffrage, and tolerance. Now, we will catch up on the authors and hear their perspectives on the importance of community building and interpersonal relationships. Then we had an opportunity to talk to Cathy Lee, one of the co-founders of the Empower Network to speak about her journey and experience working and community engagement in Maine Eric Miller: Hello everyone. Thank you all so much for joining us on podcast today. To get us started could each of you give an overview of your experience of moving to Maine and how you all met each other? . Let’s start with you. Pavarish: Okay. Before I just tell you how I got to Maine, I have to give you a little background. I’m originally from Iran, so in 1979 when revolution happened, My house was burned down because I belonged to Bahai community and I had to leave the country. So really I became homeless overnight, and then I escaped Iran to India with two of my cousin for safety. We chose India because the proximity to Iran, and also because most people were Buddhist and Hindu, we felt that we were safer among that kind of population. And then after few years being in India, The embassy of Iran did not actually renew our passport again because of our religious belief. So we had to convert and we refused to convert. So we became from being homeless in Iran stateless in India, and the only option we had to become a refugee. So we became a refugee and came to United States in 1986. As you can imagine, coming to Maine, I felt I’m a kid in a candy shop, for the first time, I had identity, I had respect. I have freedom. Things that really, even today, people are living their country and giving their life to come to America for freedom. So I really found out my identity in Maine. As a human being and being respected and because of the climate, actually, I felt at home, because I came from northeast of Iran, the climate is identical to Maine, so I immediately felt at home. I know many people are surprised when they hear, I’m from Iran and I live in a climate like this. But in the north we do have a similar really climate. I just wanted to mention, really it wasn’t the event that it brought me to come to know Bethany, Laura, Ghomri and Oyi. It wasn’t one event. It was really the desire to serve our community and our intentionality that we wanted to group with people who were doing things in the community. And that’s how I feel, I came, I crossed path with all of these lovely woman that I have really learned a lot from them. And I have so much respect and love admiration for them. And I think that’s the key. The love that we have for each other have made this connection so meaningful. It wasn’t the event because you can meet people at event. And then you go your separate way. So that doesn’t mean anything but our desire to be together and advance or community for better. Eric Miller: That’s a very special connection and I am glad that you experienced some of the Maine style climate prior to getting there. Let’s go with Ghomri next. Ghomri: Hi. Yes. I came from I grew up in Iran. Obviously as Parivash mentioned, just they had they executing them for different reason because of the religion, and they executed us because of all ethnicity, because of our language, because of our, just practicing even. We are not allowed to practice our culture. And so I became a refugee and stayed in Turkey for -I think I stayed in Turkey for, yeah, so many months. And then I I came to USA and the reason that I ended up to Maine, one of my cousin was here. And at the same time, we have a similar climate, and we have a lot of snow and we have a lot of, just rain and obviously it’s a little different. We have ocean here. We don’t have any ocean over there. And I miss mountains a lot because , we have mountain here, . I miss it anyway. And yeah, and feel very connected to Maine. I feel like that I am home, especially with the friendly environment and welcoming people here. And so yeah, unfortunately the thing that is just too much for us here, it’s just when any kind crisis, any kind political turmoil or war is happened in in Iran or in region, in general, it’s it’s too much for us, and I know we have great friends and which is very thankful and always we have them here that they they’re out there for us always. They’re out there for us. Yeah. And otherwise, yeah. And being free here and practicing my language, my cultural, my culture, my ethnicity, my identity. And imagine in country that even they are not giving birth certificate. They didn’t give birth certificate to, our great parents, and yeah, it’s feel like that you are you’ll find yourself, and then you feel that you are at least belong to humans. You are a human and belongs to a community that you are getting support from. And then it was back in 2018 that we start to have empower the immigrant women. And I I just became friends and not only as Parivash mentioned to -it’s just not like a group that we are meeting. We meet with each other and just everyone go back home and, just being on their own business now, we’re still friends. We are doing hiking together. We are going to restaurant with each other, we’re spending time with each other. We eating, we are crying with each other. We’re celebrating with each other, and sometimes in the middle of night when I get so tired especially Laura , I pick up the phone and give us give her a call, and long conversation and not, and the other friends as well. Yeah. Yeah. But at the same time, we are in general that, the role of a leader is to coach, guide, and inspire others and to motivate team through you, if you motivate the team through challenging the challenging time that you, they have and guide them. I was very active on so many areas, I should say, but mostly with women and especially Afghan women, I was able to establish the Maine Afghan woman community and which is running right now. They have little by little at the beginning it was really, it was not easy for them to come along with each other, but I, we were able, to make this unity happen. And so at least, let to share their beliefs with each other, to be honest with each other and their integrity. And, just the influence that we had, kind of like building especially building the skills, acting women that they, when you know, when you are in, when you grow in a country that is dominate country and they’re not letting you to be out there it’s not easy to bring them, to the field. It’s not easy, to inspire them. But anyway, so it was amazing and it’s running right now and I’m a member of I’m a member of housing Authority Board member, sorry, the board member of Housing Authority and Opportunity Alliance and Civil Commission. And at the same time, I’m a civic activist and happy, and excited and at the same time have my education and raising my two beautiful kids here in university, safe in environment. And they finished their education and they have their own career. And if you wanna be out there as a role model, just, it’s very important that someone who ensures their team has supported and tools to achieve their goals. You have to start it from your yourself. You have to start just the commitment, the passion, the confidence that you have, and how much you are able to give this to your community. It’s very important, either directly or indirectly or what kind of work vision that you have and the vision that is also managed, for the managing them deliver this vision and inspire them to achieve their goals. Eric Miller: That’s great. Ghomri. Laura, how about you give me an overview of your experience and with this community? Laura: Sure. I decided to attend the rather small meeting. It wasn’t a huge meeting of the empower of the immigrant women, and I hadn’t been a part of the organization at all, and went with Bethany and really didn’t know what I as a white Mainer, I was born and raised in Maine, had to contribute, and I was amazed how all of us just really supported each other and we were there and talked around the room and we were each able to state our needs, something that we needed help with. I had taken in a young man from another African nation who was really struggling and I was trying to find ways to help him, assist him. And so I brought that to the attention of the group and we just really all supported each other with whatever it was that we needed. And I’ll never forget at the end of the meeting, walking out to the sidewalk and just realized that we were all gathered together, a bunch of us, and just realizing that we had just made these incredible friends. Now, some of the people I knew, but not, other than Bethany, not on that level. And it’s amazing that more than 50% of the people there I consider my very dear friends today. There was a conference that was put on in part of the Community Network conference that Ghomri and I, not really meaning to ended up co-hosting it. So I was involved in it in that way too. And again, like as a couple of the women have said already, just the incredible friendships and the support that came out of that first meeting was just amazing. Oyi: Yeah, I think what everyone has said so far, especially Parivash is actually true. I came into the country as a student, so my story is a little bit different, but and when I came into the country, I came into New York and I met my husband in New York and then he got his first full-time job with the university in Maine, and that’s how I found myself in Maine. Now, Maine was like definitely very cold compared to New York, but I can’t remember exactly how I found myself in the Empower Women Network, but I know Mufalo was the first person I met, and then I started attending the meetings, while I was in Maine, even though I came in as a student, I came in to do my master’s, but after my master’s was over, I needed to still find something to do to keep myself in status, immigration wise. That’s one of the things we have to deal with as immigrants. You have to, to stay legally, I had to do something like go to schools or something. So I went back to community college. I was actually attending Maine community college at that time. But going to these meetings with these women, I’m like, I’m the youngest so everybody on this group is like my big Auntie , I – going to these meetings, meeting these people was like, it was really it was a great opportunity to just meet people and I found out that everyone was very supportive of where I was at that point in time, even though it wasn’t like I was working, but having good conversations with these great ladies and them supporting me. Even at that time I was even trying to like, get a job, get a job that could could file for me, that could give me like a work visa. And even though I didn’t get to that point, eventually everyone was supportive of me trying to get that including, especially like Mufalo. She tried to connect me with some law firms. ’cause I studied law. I have a legal background. So Mufalo was trying to connect me with people who could like, employ me and file a work Visa for me. And for me that’s like really part of what Empower Women Network is about, trying to ensure that immigrants find their voice, they find something, that they, they can get to do in Maine and Maine is very welcoming in that regard. And that’s just like the most welcoming place I’ve ever lived in so far. Yeah, they’re very welcoming of immigrants, which was what I appreciated about them. And the Empower Network and like Parivash said, everybody was intentional about building that bond, building that relationship. I remember when I had to have my first child, Bethany was there. I had complications, bethany went through it with me. She cried with me. Parivash was also with me. Laura came to the hospital. Parivash came to the hospital. Parivash was like telling me,’causemy baby was in ICU for a period of time. Parivash. I remember Parivash telling me to speak with her, even though of course she’s a baby. She couldn’t, but Parivash made me understand that, okay, she’s a baby, but she can hear your voice. You’ve carried her for a long time. And, eventually my child ended up doing great. She’s still a miracle to everybody today. But yeah, we have that sisterhood, that bond and even though we’re miles away, we don’t call each other every. When we get to connect with each other, we share pictures. We connect with each other on Facebook. When I post something, Bethany, Laura, Ghomri, comments, and even though I haven’t been to Maine in a long time, I still plan to visit the place with my daughter and see everyone, I think it’s more of the fact that everybody was intentional about building this relationship, building this sisterhood, and I really appreciate. I really appreciate that network and I really appreciate everyone on this call for that. Yeah. And since then we moved to Missouri. From Missouri. We’re now in Tennessee. Yeah. And like I said, it’s like the last move. And I’ve had another child. I’ve had another child in August, and so right now I am. Eventually my husband actually filed for me while I was in Maine to get a green card, but it wasn’t coming through on time, which was why I said I had to go to community college. Eventually it came through in 2020 and I was able to pursue what I really wanted to do. Right now I’m working for a consulting firm working in the financial services space. I work in like the financial crime investigation side of it, and I work hundred percent from home, which, gives me the flexibility of being a mom, being a present mom, and, working at the same time. Yeah. So that’s really a summary of, what has been happening to me. Eric Miller: That’s a wonderful story. There’s so many beautiful memories and congratulations on, on acquiring Your Green Card, finishing school, getting the job, moving around all over the place successfully raising children. What an amazing experience. And since you named dropped Bethany let’s round up getting to know everyone here. Bethany: Hi, I’m Bethany Smart. I live in North Yarmouth I in 2018, but prior to the Pandemic was as a volunteer work volunteering through Hope Acts and Hope House as a mentor coordinator. So I would talk to people about Hey, would you like to connect with a new Mainer and help them navigate some systems, be their friend, show them around Portland connect and just listen over coffee, like to what their needs are and see if you can help or, if Hope House can help or, getting the, we can get the word out to the community and see what folks need. I actually attended, like Laura said with Laura this first meeting I mean my first meeting of the Empower Women Network with, along with a young woman that I was mentoring from Rwanda. And I think my initial thought going was that like she would have a place to connect and that she would know this group existed. So it’s interesting how it turned out that really for me, here we are like all of us connected strongly. And she was even younger than Oyi. So maybe it was just an age factor, but but still I hope that she knows that, she has proceeded with her life here. She has, sorry. She has I’m sure like, linked up with other friends and organizations in Portland and has the support that she needs. But as it turned out, as you’ve heard from everyone, we had a very strong connection. I mean, I do look at things from through my faith and a spiritual lens so for me, I just feel like it was just all of us coming with really open hearts to connect with one another. And Mufalo asking, like just saying, introduce yourselves and say who you are and say a need that you have. So all of us have multiple needs, right? But I think us coming from Oh, I’m from Nebraska. I didn’t say that I moved to Maine in 1996, but coming, whether, from any place in the us as a white woman, like in that group, it can be really intimidating to express, like what can my need possibly be when I’m seeing people whose lives I’ve had to, be torn apart and start over. But as Oyi said, we all rallied around each other’s needs. I remember Laura I think did some editing for somebody who said they needed some editing work, done for work. Maybe that wasn’t you, but I think it was. Yeah, and then the aunties, that’s what we called us planned a baby shower that was at Parivash’s house that she hosted. And just we started, connecting. Laura and I had always for a long time prior to this been connected and trying to meet needs where we saw them. But this was just clearly just a deeper level of friendship and connection that kind of allowed us all to, I think, extend our leadership into our own spheres even more with the strength of knowing one another. So I just saw Parivash last week at the State House and I realized later I think I said at the beginning to my husband I’m so glad I went to that meeting. I can’t imagine not having met those women like we were, like Laura said, there’s something about, I think it was supposed to be a one hour meeting and it ended up being three hours. And then we were doing like selfies and the elevator on the way downstairs who does that when you’ve just met a group of people. But it felt like there was like a reunion and we’d known each other forever. So I realized later, had I not met Parivash that day, I would’ve met her eventually’causeshe’s everywhere all the time activating. But yeah, this has been a really amazing group and amazing friendship and amazing leaders. Eric Miller: Wow, that I am blown away by the the strength of connection that just going to one place and all, having a collective goal and then letting your guard down and being okay to be intimate and how that builds this community is just such a wonderful thing. And Oyi you answered this question a little bit already, but that article was published in Maine Policy Review about five years ago, a lot has transpired since then. So I’d love to hear about where people are at now and if Bethany, you mentioned you and Parivash spend time at the State House, if you like to mention other advocacy group or other organizations you’re part of be happy to share that or just general life updates. Oyi’s been very busy. Pavarish: Yeah, so I mean, Everybody who is really here in this podcast, we are all involved and we feel, women in general, it is in our DNA to try to make our community a better place. From the unit of home to, you know, local community, national and international. It’s just that, I don’t know how to say it. We don’t think that we are alive if we are not doing something for somebody or making changes in our community. So yeah, if there are things that, need support at the policy level, look, as Bethany mentioned, it was a day of advocacy in the state house. So we all rallied around Wabanaki people, because we believe in justice. So the justice cannot be discriminated. If you feel everybody have to have a equal, right, then you have to be in forefront of that fight for those people who are really fighting it. And beside that, I do a lot of advocacy around the homelessness and also that recently we had 55 family move to South Portland. So the, interfaith group decided that, there were items that they needed. So we wrote a email, like I forwarded the email to the Maine ___, and I was overwhelmed with their response of items that had to be delivered to South Portland for the asylum seeker. And I’m not the only one. Every one of these women who you see here, they are involved in many level with that because we all think that it is important. And I’m among few of the board in Portland Family Promise Board and Portland Park Conservancy that, just doing different thing. It is not maybe so much gear towards the immigrant and asylum, but it is geared towards environment and conserving parks in Portland. Eric Miller: It’s wonderful. Yeah, you are certainly busy. As Bethany said let’s go with Ghomri. It’s, it is five years later. Ghomri: Five years later, yes. As I was my official position was a refugee and immigrant resettlements through Jewish Community Alliance. And when, as you know that how they fragile when they come into this country and we house them when we provide them what food with clothes and reach out to so many organizations, other non-profit organizations, and even, just volunteers that they come out and regardless of color, ethnicity, identity, you know, they house and we were able to house 100 in total. I think in total we had 150, but 50 of them were Afghan community, Afghan families. And in addition of this one, as I said, I was very involved, to establish empower I mean empower the Afghan woman and, just establish their community. They had community, but it was not very active community. It was not like they didn’t have structure and they, especially the women were not involved at all. Not at all. I remember at the first meeting that they had only males and they were there and I said, what are the women? And they said, no, we don’t have any woman here. And I said, I’m gonna cancel it out. So then for the next one, we had only two women, and for the third one we had just three women. And for the fourth one that we had it here in housing Authority, we had 25 women, Afghan woman. So luckily right now, and they are very happy and they’re running their organization. We choose the name for them. Maine Afghan Women and at the same time, civic activist as well and working on my degree to finish it and hopefully another, just the 40 units left to get my master degree from our university international violations. And the job that I recently, they offered to me, which is, I did not announce that because I have one more exam that I have to take, became a foreign service general. So I know that it’s not an easy job. But anyway, I’m very excited and hopefully to be in the office officially by the August at the end of the August. And at the same time, I’m a very active member of Worldly Woman. Worldly Woman is under the World Affair Councils here in Maine. The same thing that Empower Immigrant Women did it. We are going out and Laura actually participate in one of our meeting because we are very new and we are still reaching out, just kinda like international women from different group, from different, background and to participate and share their memories and, just supporting each other. And we have empathy for each other and. So yeah, that is five years later and hopefully in another five years, be president of Iran . We need a woman, yeah. Bethany: We’ll need a new podcast then. Eric Miller: Congratulations on making it to this point. Good luck on your final exam there. I have little doubt and how that’ll go for you. I’m sure you’ll pass it without a question. Let’s go to Laura next. Laura: So I’m trying to think from five years ago how things have changed and I’m not involved in too many direct organizations yet I kind of dabble in a few different ones. And I had a friend, an African friend, tell me not too long ago that,’causeI was trying to find my place in helping in certain situations and he’s, he said to me, you’re a connector. That’s what you do. You connect people. So I’ve kind of taken that and run with it and felt like, that, that is a purpose to connect people that whether it be, to services or that they are trying to better their career or better. In this particular case, my friends and artists and he just needed to connect with people to Lead to jobs that he has picked up since then. So whether it be people, just needing clothes, I have a couple families right now that are two women are having babies and just even finding some of the basics for some people when they’re new here and they don’t know the language, they don’t have transportation is a struggle. So anything that we can do, all of us to help make their make their settlement here a little bit easier is what we can do. So I also am on the board of directors of ___ African Newspaper, which is an African newspaper here in Maine. Started in 2018, and the main goal of the newspapers to really connect africans here with Mainers here and also provides news back in Africa for folks settling here so they don’t lose the connection with their homeland. And it also teaches us why a lot of new Mainers are here from African nations, mostly asylum seekers and what might have made them flee and why they’re here and what things are like in their country. So that’s been really near and dear to my heart. I have an African son, so when I first heard about this newspaper, I thought this is something I really wanna be involved in. So that has helped me connect to other people and just become more and more part of the immigrant community. And, but we’re all Mainers now, so we have to support each other. Eric Miller: Yeah, that’s absolutely fantastic. Bethany, how about you? Bethany: So I would say I’m also not, like directly involved like on boards and things like that. But I think just, again, I think my description of leadership in the article like five years ago was just like more pushing myself to do new things. Pushing myself to step outta my comfort zone. To make, always be making new connections, to always be trying to build awareness of what’s happening in Maine, but what’s happening in people’s lives that is important to them. And I think for me it’s allowed me to have conversations on a more informed level than just here’s a general idea of justice. Everybody should have these basic rights or everybody should be able to do X when they come to the United States and not have all these hoops to jump through kind of thing, but even with family members, with other friends, having like just a greater understanding of the struggles and to say, my friend’s going through this like this, we, we all need to be supporting one another. So I think, I’d say like Laura’s a major connector. I’ll take minor connector. I’m a connector as well. And I just going back to the spirituality and faith piece, I just look at leadership, not so much as being out front and center as standing my integrity and like doing small things and trusting the ripples that we don’t see. And yeah, just gaining awareness and it’s it’s like more of a scaling in then scaling up kind of perspective. Eric Miller: Absolutely. That’s great. So a lot of these points that you all have made actually feeds really nicely into the next question because Parivash in the article in 2018, you mentioned often grassroots leaders making seemingly small decisions have a huge impact on the lives of ordinary people. Would you mind providing some examples of some of these small decisions? It seems Laura, Bethany have captured these small decisions in small actions and there’s large ones serving on boards. Would you like to elaborate on that a little bit? Pavarish: Yeah. So really in general, I don’t feel that this, we have this conception of leadership that we think leadership is some alien or coming out of a space and making things work better or we have this complex, I don’t know, idea, and to me leadership is not complex because leadership is about others. It is not about the leader, it is not about us, it is about other people. And I always feel there are so many unsung heroes that they, doing a small thing, but do a small thing or organically changing your community. Sometimes when we talk about complex thing, it’s very disappointing because when you want to take a big, have a big goal. Sometimes it is not possible to fulfill it, but if you make small changes, it is encouraging because you see the result. Like what all the stories that Laura, Bethany and Ghomri share, these are little changes that they are all making and making our community a better place. So I have an example that I mentioned earlier, like just sending the email, it wasn’t a big deal, but the response that I got was so overwhelming to me. And it wasn’t the leadership because it was about orders, but people were generous. They stood up and, really contributed. But I have, few years ago, I went visiting this family in Lewiston from Congo, and I was visiting them with one of my friends who was from Paris. She was from France. So she was able to translate, all of our conversation. And I casually ask the woman why she’s at home and she is not taking English classes because everybody in her household was gone for, the class except her. And she said, because she cannot see. And I was very surprised because I didn’t see any disability with her sight. And I mentioned to her, I said you can’t see what you mean. She said, I cannot read. I cannot see, to read right. And I had over counter glasses that I bought from Dollar Store, so I thought, okay, I’ll just try to give her this reading, over counter reading glasses. And she had a paper in front of her and she started reading and she started crying because she was overwhelmed that her problem was just, was solved with reading over counter reading glasses. It wasn’t a big deal that I offered to her, but just being intentional to make sure what is her problem, and if there was anything that I could do to make a difference, which I wasn’t sure that it would make a difference, but just being intentional. So when I left there, I was thinking really many of the problem that people are dealing with is not a big problem. They are a small problem is just that we are people who are connecting with other people, whether they are immigrant, asylum seeker. If you are intentional in our day-to-day work, we would be able, with a small decision, make a change in people’s life. So this intentionality is very important and doing something about the problem that we are facing and not saying, oh, okay, so what, they are dealing with this for a long time and nothing has changed, so just let it be. I think that’s the important, really lesson for all of us, that the small changes can be perceived big from the point of view of the person who received that small change. It can impact their life. Eric Miller: Yeah. Thank you. For expanding on that point in intentionality is a very special and powerful thing and can be channeled into, I like how you framed as it be channeled into as small or as large as an act as what is in front of you in that moment. And so as leaders and yourselves and as immigrants or have worked intimately with new Mainers yourselves can you all speak to how leadership and community networks can help individuals and families that call Maine their new home? Pavarish: Yeah, I would like to say because I’m immigrant, what am I offering is not some vague, something in a vacuum because I live the immigrant life and I know what was important to me was learning the language was one of the really the most important thing that you need to learn the language of the country that you reside in because that could also improve your own life, if you are fluent in the language. The second thing is, I think the attitude or attitude towards getting job, because most immigrants who come here, they are highly educated. So if we want to wait for that perfect job that pays $150 an hour, it’s very hard . So we have to have a different attitude towards job. And I share a little story after I say this. That’s very important. The another point is that as immigrants, we should not take everything and anything that people say and put it in a category of discrimination that, oh, these people tell me this because I’m from another country, so you can’t take everything as discrimination because that would make our life very hard. Another point that I really want to make sure that as immigrant, the immigrant are paying attention to that, is just that we need to take the first step. If we want to become friends with other people, we need to take the first step. I remember when we moved actually to Maine, it was winter and people hibernate in Maine, so you can’t connect with anybody. And I remember, my neighbor heard that we are from Iran and they thought this terrorist family moved next door to them. They were worried about their children and all of that. And I was alone. I left everything that I was familiar with in Iran. I didn’t have family. When I came to Maine, it was only me, my husband, and my daughter. So I needed connection, but my neighbors didn’t need connection because she already had relative, friend, well established, community. But I didn’t. So I couldn’t sit home and say, oh, I’m waiting for my neighbor to come say, hi, Parivash, how are you? I’m glad to meet you. If I would have that attitude after 30 some years, I still would not have any connection with anyone. So I say that we really, as immigrant, we have to take that step. I want to tell you the story. My husband was doing his PhD in India. So when we came, he was working two jobs as a stock clerk in 7-Eleven, and he was also as a stock clerk in L.L. Bean. So the first job, the first week we were in Maine, got a job in L.L. Bean I remember when he would go to job, I would sit and cry because I was thinking, oh my God, he’s so intelligent. He has done all of this PhD work and now he’s stocking, somewhere in 7-Eleven and I don’t know, in L.L. Bean, and I would not let him know that I was worried about that. So I remember one day he came home and I was crying. I would make sure he doesn’t know that I cried because I thought he’s working hard for me and my daughter. There is no reason that I should show him that I’m distressed. So I remember he came home sick and he saw me crying and he thought something happened to my parents. So he said, something happened to your parents? I said, no. He said, please tell me why you are crying. I said, I’m crying because you are an intelligent man. You have did your, pre PhD and all of this work while you are now folding clothes at night in a L.L. Bean. My husband got mad at me. He said, what is the use of PhD if I cannot put food in front of you and my daughter,. He said, still whatever I’m making is better than $0. And because I’m working in L.L. Bean actually I’m aware of other opportunities because if I am not working in L.L. Bean, most of a job are posted within the company. So the fact that I’m there as a stock clerk makes me aware of the posting. So I have the ability to apply for better job. So really these all the advice that I’m offering humbly if, because we went through that as an immigrant, it’s not some abstract something out there that I have no clue or I didn’t go through that hardship. So I feel these are something that we need to remember. Or attitude need to be very positive and not, because I have PhD, I’m not going to work here, I’m not going to work
S3E5 200 Years of Maine’s Forests: Navigating Vacationland
14-03-2023
S3E5 200 Years of Maine’s Forests: Navigating Vacationland
On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. This episode covers an article by Lloyd C. Irland, author of five books, fellow of the Society of American Foresters, and participant in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and National Assessment on Climate Change. Irland gives us an inside perspective on Maine’s Forests from 1820-2010 in his article titled, “From Wilderness to Timberland to Vacationland to Ecosystem: Maine’s Forests, 1820–2020”. This article was published in volume 29, number 2, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Lloyd Irland’s article: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1863&context=mpr Transcript This is the Maine Policy Matters podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I am Eric Miller, research associate at the Center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today, we will be covering an article by Lloyd C. Irland, author of five books, fellow of the Society of American Foresters, and participant in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and National Assessment on Climate Change. Irland gives us an inside perspective on Maine’s Forests from 1820 to 2010 in his article titled, “From Wilderness to Timberland to Vacationland to Ecosystem: Maine’s Forests, 1820–2020.” This article was published in volume 29, number 2, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to Lloyd Irland’s article , which can be found in the episode description. Want to know the history of Maine as a vacationland and how the forest has changed over the last 200 years? Lloyd Irland has some answers. The story of Maine’s forest has many themes across American economic history, including technology and markets for wood products, labor-management conflicts, financial technology, and logging equipment to name just a few. Irland touches on these topics by focusing on how Maine’s forests have changed over time. He examines many aspects of Maine’s forests, and in this episode we focus on Maine’s forest at statehood, as timberland, as part of Vacationland, and as ecosystem, and carbon sink. Maine had a rough start at its statehood. Communities were trying to restitch a political society after three devastating events: Jefferson’s embargo, the War of 1812, and 1816—the “year without a summer.” Two years of unprecedented harsh weather brought famine to the countryside and stimulated significant outmigration. In1820, most of Maine’s population of 300,000 people lived along the coast and by a few inland rivers . In rural areas, many people spent some part of a year cutting wood. 1820s Mainers preferred fishing and lumbering to establishing farms, which they say contributed to the slowing down of Maine’s development as a state. In 1820, Maine’s land was 92% forests (only 1% of which was managed for timber),11% wetlands, 4% farmland, and 1% urban. In 1829, Moses Greenleaf, one of Maine’s earliest cartographers, predicted a future in which Maine’s northern forests were replaced by thriving farms and small towns along with managed woodlots and town forests. But a combination of events, including transportation revolutions, westward migration, and new agricultural technology, meant Maine’s farm economy was short lived. World War 1 caused crop prices and Maine’s farm economy to crash. The final blow to Maine’s farm economy came with a new invention that replaced horses: the tractor. The demand for hay, which had supported many marginal farms, virtually disappeared. As farmland areas continued to shrink in response to its diminished competitiveness, plowland and hay fields shifted first to pasture, then went back to scraggly, uneven forests. Between 1920 and 2020, Maine’s farmland dropped from 10% of the state’s total acreage to 2% and forestland increased from 76% to 89%. Before Maine’s first legislature met, 9.8 million acres of Maine had already been sold or granted away in the Bingham purchases and royal grants. This meant that Maine forests were already owned by mostly out-of-staters. In 1820, 6.6 million acres of mostly forest land were in the settled towns and plantations. In the Act of Statehood, Maine and Massachusetts split 5 million acres of surveyed public lands into two roughly equal parts. This act ended Massachusetts’s interest in Maine lands with a buyout in the 1840s. Between the 1840s and 1870s, public lots in many wildland towns were held in common and undivided tenure with the majority owners and never laid out on the ground. Statewide after 1880, the Maine forest gained some 4 million acres through natural reseeding, which led the forest to return as a timberland. Historians say puritanical New Englanders thought that sport fishing and hunting were for ne’er- do-wells; hard work was king. However, this idea began to shift in the late nineteenth century when resort hotels along the coast and the lakes became popular, marking the shift to Maine as Vacationland. These hotels began to sprout in Rangeley and on Moosehead Lake. Prosperous families summered at high-ceilinged hostelries with captivating views and access to public transportation. The Boston sports participated in a genteel culture of small sporting camps with their guides, guide boats, and refined fly-fishing techniques. These gentry were also among the first to explore the paths up the region’s peaks to see the views. Irland names three events that solidified Maine’s status as Vacationland. The first was union membership, the 40-hour week, and higher wages in manufacturing. The second was widespread auto ownership. Blue-collar families now had the means and the time for enjoying activities that were once reserved for the wealthy. Returning GIs in the late 1940s sought well-earned peace and recreation in the forests and brought the kids along. Many were used to camping out and preferred the outdoor air to the Brahmin atmosphere of the old and costly hotels. Third, the turnpike and the Eisenhower era’s interstate highways trimmed travel times dramatically. The gateways to the Northwoods became busy on summer weekends and during hunting season. Only a few of the big resort hotels survived the Depression and WWII, which led to more people camping in the Maine woods and eventually purchasing land for camps. This caused people to resort to tenting, then camping with travel trailers, and eventually purchasing land like homes and lots. Rafting and canoeing also increased and caused some conflict. Groups jostled for places at crowded put-in points on major wilderness rivers. Allagash paddlers sought more solitude and fought bitterly against access points that might allow motorized canoes to disturb their peace. Managers of Baxter State Park struggled to contend with large groups holding parties atop Katahdin in defiance of regulations designed for a more conservative age. The age of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles brought baffling new conflicts to both private and public timberlands managers, now rebranded by the tourism industry and outdoor magazines as the wilderness. For the first time, recreationists were traveling the Maine Woods in numbers, and many did not like what they saw. The wildlands people remembered from childhood visits was now full of large clear-cuts with little evidence of regrowth or care for long-term sustainability or for the forest as home for wildlife and fish. By the 1980s, it was clear that vacationland, timberland, and the wilderness did not always comfortably coexist. Wealthy individuals were buying large lots on mountainsides and lakefronts. This threatened to change the view and restrict public access. By the 2010s, hunters were reporting that the extensive road network spawned was shrinking. Roads were blocked and reverted to shrubs; bridges were being removed, and old hunting haunts could no longer be reached on wheels. During the nineteenth and much of the twentieth century, timber harvesting in Maine was relatively benign compared to today’s technology. Amazingly, crews with horses or oxen logged the steep upper slopes of major mountain ranges, even building flumes to run logs to drivable water. Logging and roading wasn’t seen as a threat to Maine’s regrowing forests and its ecosystems. But with the beginning of ecological research in the 1970s,, researchers began to dig more deeply into Maine’s ecosystems. They uncovered disturbing facts about the effects of insecticides on birds and the effects of intensive harvesting on soils. Naturalists noticed that some rare species were in danger of disappearing. Conservation efforts are now focused on keeping track of a list of federal and state threatened and endangered species and their habitats. In the twenty-first century, Maine woods came to be threatened by global change: the warming climate and its ominous implications. Changing temperatures, longer growing seasons, lower snowfall, and more frequent intense storms are likely to shift habitats for many trees, shrubs, animals, and associated creatures. Economic effects will not be far behind. Now, scientists and managers are trying to understand how forests can be managed to store more carbon, and how they might better adapt to the changing climate that lies ahead. These problems are more complex and difficult than many realize. To date, much of the discussion has been at the level of vague and unhelpful generalizations. The knowledge base is so limited that virtually every constructive suggestion is promptly attacked by skeptics. After reviewing two centuries of Maine’s forests, where does it stand now? Irland writes, [quote] “Today, Maine’s forest is nearly as large as it was when captain John Smith first gazed on it in 1614…to this day [Maine’s forests] remain largely in private hands”. For a century and a half, Maine citizens and successive governments welcomed new mills, dams, power facilities, and railroads as tokens of progress and improved life prospects for Maine people and for immigrants as well. Interregional and international changes in demand, competition, and technology have brought creative destruction to the doorsteps of Maine’s small farms, mill towns, and rural communities, and the entire forest. In mill towns, local civic and economic development groups struggle to find new manufacturers or other occupants for the vacant spaces and to create new housing projects, to bring a few jobs, pay taxes, and provide community stability. The days when passive state and federal governments could gaze calmly over Maine’s forest as it shifted from wilderness to timberland to vacationland and to an ecosystem and carbon sink have passed. We are only beginning to learn how our forest—the backdrop of Maine’s 200-year history as a state—can continue to produce the benefits. In 2020, private owners still owned large swaths of the wildlands, though some had sold development rights in the form of easements. Offshore capital, nontransparent investment funds, and a few wealthy individuals joined the roster of timberland owners. Public and conservation ownership now accounts for 20 percent of Maine’s land area, an amazing accomplishment, born of intense effort in less than 30 years. Additionally, key reaches of Maine’s re-engineered rivers, especially where dams blocked migratory fish, have been restored to free-flowing condition. Yet, the recent rearrangements of ownership and expansion of conservation interests have not led to full agreement on the larger purposes of all this activity. Irland concludes by asking his audience to contemplate the following questions, “Have these changes been done to retain wood production potential and a basic industry? To conduct re-wilding as some advocate? To preserve deer or canoeing opportunities? To preserve scenic views from the decks of high-end homes on mountain view lots?” What you just heard was Lloyd Irland’s perspective on Maine’s changing forests from 1820 to 2020. Maine Policy Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. The editorial team for Maine Policy Review is made up of Joyce Rumery, Linda Silka, and Barbara Harrity. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. A thank you to Jayson Heim and Kathryn Swacha, scriptwriters for Maine Policy Matters, and to Daniel Soucier, our production consultant. In two weeks, we will be commemorating Women’s History Month by hearing from the authors of an essay titled, “Our Path: Empower Maine Women Network and Leadership”. We would like to thank you for listening to Maine Policy Matters from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. You can find us online by searching Maine Policy Matters on your web browser. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on your preferred social media platform to stay updated on new episode releases. I am Eric Miller–thanks for listening and please join us next time on Maine Policy Matters.
S3E4 Antiracist Public Policy in Maine: Reflecting on a Troubling Past for a Better Future
28-02-2023
S3E4 Antiracist Public Policy in Maine: Reflecting on a Troubling Past for a Better Future
Trying to understand the history of race and public policy in Maine? Today we will be covering James Myall’s arguments on active antiracism to improve the lives of people of color and correct historic wrongs. You can find Myall's article here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr/vol29/iss2/4/ Transcript Trying to understand the history of race and public policy in Maine? Today we will be covering James Myall’s arguments on active antiracism to improve the lives of people of color and correct historic wrongs. This is the Maine Policy Matters podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine . I am Eric Miller, research associate at the Center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today, we will be covering an article by James Myall, he is a policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy, who focuses on health care, education, and the inclusive economy. Myall gives us an inside perspective on  his article entitled “Race and Public Policy    in Maine: Past, Present, and Future.” This article was published in volume 29, number 2, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to James Myall’s article in Maine Policy Review. Myall identifies four factors that contribute to racism and public policy. These are Constructing Whiteness, Second-Class Citizenship, Discriminatory Drug Policy, and School Segregation. First, let’s go back to 1867. In 1867, a heated debate raged in Maine’s legislature and filled newspaper columns across the state. Advocates for Black rights wanted to repeal the state’s long-standing ban on interracial marriages, but opponents rejected the “mixing of the races,” often citing racist theories of white genetic superiority. The Portland Daily Press in 1897 reported on February 4 that people who opposed the repeal were afraid that if families were allowed to have mixed children, that “there will be no Caucasian society left.” Mainers like to think of themselves as being on the right side of history when it comes to racial justice. Maine entered the union in 1820 as a free state and was home to several abolitionists. Abraham Lincoln appointed one Mainer, Hannibal Hamlin, as his first vice president and Another, Oliver Otis Howard, to lead the Freedman’s Bureau. The Maine legislature had just recently ratified the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the US Constitution in the 1860s. Despite this progress, they stumbled at the idea of interracial marriage. The 1867 attempt to end the ban on interracial marriage failed, and Maine’s anti-miscegenation would not be repealed until almost a generation later in 1883. Myall claims that “This episode is a stark reminder that Maine’s record on racial discrimination is not as clean as conventional wisdom would have us believe. It is easy for residents of northern and western states to assume that racism was largely, or even entirely, confined to the South.” For example, between 1790 and 1970, the US decennial censuses recorded Maine’s population as at least 99 percent white. As recently as 2018 Maine has 93 percent of its residents identifying as white non-hispanic. Myall identifies two ways that Maine has been harmful to nonwhites. The first is explicit racism. An example of this would be the prohibition on interracial marriage. The second is implicit discrimination and unintentional harm. Myall cites this discrimination affected not only Black and Indigenous populations, but also groups whose whiteness was questioned, such as Irish and French-Canadian immigrants, and Jewish peoples. It is important to look at Maine’s past to better understand current policies and the future of Maine’s legislation. The effects of historical racist policies like banning interracial marriages causes a ripple effect through generations. Children inherit the negative impacts of historically exclusionary policies, and so do their grandchildren. Nationally, white families have 10 times the wealth of black families, with this gap being wider in some local areas To understand historic racism, we have to look at how whiteness was constructed. Myall believes that we need to understand the historic definitions of race. These definitions have changed over time because race is a social construct. The decennial census has categorized Americans into at least 14 different racial and ethnic categories in the past 220 years. In early censuses, Americans were divided between “white” and “colored,” with the definition of colored being somewhat ambiguous. An example of this in Maine are Acadians in 1764 and 1765, once deemed “French Neutrals” after being evicted from what is now Nova Scotia. Acadians were not the only group considered to be only partly white, or white in an inferior sense. Other immigrant groups were also deemed lower status. In Maine, Irish and French-Canadian immigrants suffered discrimination alongside people of color, though generally not to the same degree. Maine’s Jewish community was seen as both religiously and racially distinct. Another aspect of Maine’s history with discrimination is the second-class citizenship status of nonwhite groups. The 1890 Census found that among men aged 21 and older, just 3 percent of native-born white Mainers with native-born parents were illiterate, compared to 12 percent of those with foreign-born parents, 25 percent of those who were themselves born abroad, and 38 percent of Mainers of color. The literacy amendment did specify that voters who were already registered could keep their registration without passing the literacy test, which was for first-time voters only. However, 1893 also saw the creation of local voter registration boards, which had the ability to remove voters from the rolls and make them reapply. Discriminatory drug policy is something that greatly affects nonwhite communities today. Black Mainers are six times more likely to be incarcerated than non-Hispanic white Mainers.This disparity has a long history, extending back at least as far as 1840 when the US Census Bureau began tracking rates of incarceration. Throughout Maine’s history, people of color have been incarcerated at much higher rates than white Mainers. Maine’s recent experience with decriminalizing cannabis hints at one possible way to tackle these disparities. However, there are deeper inequities to address in Maine’s criminal justice system. Once arrested, Mainers of color face harsher charges and sentences. A recent report by the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments found that Mainers of color, especially Black Mainers, were more likely to be charged with serious drug offenses. Segregation in schools also has roots in Maine. The right to public education has been enshrined in the Maine Constitution since 1820, but its provision has not always been universal or equitable. Maine towns with Black communities often created segregated school systems. Such separate schools were found in Portland, Brunswick, Warren, and Machias when white residents objected to their children attending integrated schools. In Atusville in Machias, the Black community established its own school in 1853 after their children were attacked by white students for trying to attend the local school. Economic hardship also limits children’s access to education. While Maine had some early laws limiting the use of child labor and punishing truancy, the laws were irregularly enforced until federal legislation outlawed child labor. For many low-income families, the decision to send a child to school meant losing an income. Economic necessity likely depressed school enrollment among children from immigrant families and families of color. Today, Mainers of color still face educational disparities. Black, Latino, and American Indian students graduate high school at lower rates than white Mainers.  Black and Latino students in the University of Maine System are also less likely to graduate within six years of enrolling than white students White K–12 students in Maine are one-and-a-half times more likely to be enrolled in AP classes than Black students, while Black students are two-and-a-half times more likely to be suspended. So, what can Maine lawmakers do to change the course of Maine’s public policy towards more racial justice? Myall concludes with the following message: To truly achieve racial justice in Maine, policymakers need to be deliberately antiracist, with actions that work to overturn more than two centuries of harm. Lawmakers need to recognize the legacy of this harm and the need for targeted policies that repair it. Lawmakers need to continue to ensure that people of color aren’t left out of broadly progressive economic measures like the minimum wage. Lawmakers need to be keenly aware that legislation can have racist effects even without racist language or intention and to consider the racial impact of new policies. Antiracism requires consistent and deliberate work, but it is possible. Mainers deserve no less. What you just heard was James Myall’s perspective on the history of race and public policy in Maine. Maine Policy Review is a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. The editorial team for Maine Policy Review is made up of Joyce Rumery, Linda Silka, and Barbara Harrity. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. A thank you to Jayson Heim and Kathryn Swacha, scriptwriters for Maine Policy Matters, and to Daniel Soucier, our production consultant. In two weeks, we will be covering Llyod Irland’s piece entitled, “From Wilderness to Timberland to Vacationland to Ecosystem: Maine’s Forests, 1820–2020.” We would like to thank you for listening to Maine Policy Matters from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. You can find us online by searching Maine Policy Matters on your web browser. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on your preferred social media platform to stay updated on new episode releases. I am Eric Miller–thanks for listening and please join us next time on Maine Policy Matters.
S3E3 Winter Roads, Salt, and the Slippery Slope
14-02-2023
S3E3 Winter Roads, Salt, and the Slippery Slope
Today, we will be covering a report by Jonathan Rubin, Shaleen Jain, Ali Shirazi, et al. titled, “Road Salt in Maine: An Assessment of Practices, Impacts and Safety”. In their report, they present the results from a research project by a team from the University of Maine, in cooperation with the Maine Department of Transportation that examines the use of road salt in Maine for winter travel safety. This report was published by Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in April of 2022. You can find the article here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mcspc_transport/11/ Transcript Eric Miller: A classic public policy dilemma. What do we do to limit the bad impacts of salting our winter roads while keeping the good impacts? Tune into today’s episode to find out. This is the Maine Policy Matters podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I’m Eric Miller, research associate at the center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today we will be covering a report by Jonathan Rubin, Shalene Jain, Ali Shirazi, et al. titled, “Road Salt and Maine: An Assessment of Practices, Impacts, and Safety.” In their report, they present the results from a research project by a team from the University of Maine in cooperation with the Maine Department of Transportation that examines the use of road salt and Maine for winter travel safety. This report was published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center in April of 2022. Maine Policy Review is a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Policy Center. We’ll first briefly summarize the article and then speak with Jonathan Rubin and Brian Burne, a highway maintenance and engineer for the state of Maine. Since 2010, there’s been an increase in accumulation of chlorides and freshwater and groundwater environments due to road salt in Maine, a trend consistent with the rest of the Northeastern United States. The state of Maine has 45,586 miles of public roadway, more miles per person than any other New England state. This mileage is maintained by the MaineDOT, Maine Turnpike authority, as well as 483 municipalities in 16 counties, as well as three reservations. There are largely three best management practices regarding dealing with snow and ice on the roads. De-icing, pre-treating roads with brine, and pre-wetting the salt as it’s being spread. The latter two of those options being considered anti-icing. Anti-icing and de-icing are different approaches to achieving the same goal. Anti-icing is different from de-icing largely due to the timing of the treatment. Anti-icing is a pre-treatment of the road before snow and ice start to stick. While de-icing involves removing ice already on the road by plowing snow and applying sand for temporary retraction and salt to melt the ice. Anti-icing is a principle best management practice by MaineDOT and currently uses this approach on almost all state roads by treating them before ice and snow are able to bond to the. The Maine Turnpike Authority uses this on the entire turnpike. A survey shows that roughly 28% of Maine’s municipalities use anti- icing while the rest use the de-icing approach. As mentioned earlier, anti-icing is a strategy that utilizes the application of pre-wetted salt early in a storm or by pre-treating the roads with a liquid brine. Pre-treating the roads with a liquid brine before a storm is another best management practice. As mentioned earlier, Maine Turnpike Authority and MaineDOT do not use this method. 12% of municipalities reported pre-treating their roads. However, it is not specified whether a liquid brine was the treatment of choice as opposed to pre-wetted salt. Pre-wetting salt involves the process of wetting solid salts as they’re being applied, which has been shown to reduce the amount of salt that ends up in the ditch off the road. Pre-wetting can be an anti-icing strategy that the main d o t and main turnpike authority employ statewide. 71% of municipalities surveyed that they never wet their salt before spreading. Ruben et al. report that the most widely used material on winter roads in Maine is rock salt, or sodium chloride because it’s cost effective and easy to handle. The total bulk salt purchases from distributors in the state in 2019 to 2020 amounts to approximately 535,000 tons. According to the authors’ calculations, they estimate approximately 493,000 tons, about 91% of the 535,000 tons of total bulk salt were used by the MaineDOT, Maine Turnpike Authority, and municipal governments. This 9% is likely explained by the non-road use of salt on commercial and industrial parking lots and other private uses. This means that Maine uses roughly of 787 pounds of salt for every Maine resident, or about 11 tons per lane mile per year . They also estimate that the cost of clearing winter roads statewide is 155 million dollars , which translates to $114 per resident million. MaineDOT is obligated to resolve well claims for private water supplies that are destroyed or rendered unfit for human consumption by constructing, reconstructing, or maintaining a highway, including the use of salts for winter road maintenance. This means that MaineDOT has spent an additional 53 million dollars since 2006 to investigate, assess, and resolve well claims. While winter road maintenance practices allow for high levels of safety and mobility for residents, the consequences of our road salt use can be seen in the reduced water quality of some streams, contaminated wells, infrastructure and vehicle corrosion, and state and municipal budgets. Rubin et al. explained that quote, “as salt use increases, so do its impacts. One way to reduce salt is to change driver’s expectations of travel during a storm” end quote. Much of the impacts from road salt are to the aquatic environments in both the short and long term. Winter road maintenance is a significant source of total chloride loading to fresh waters. The short term effects are directly related to the seasonal timing of salt use with peak levels occurring in Spring and Fall. Several long-term studies have shown an increase in chloride trend as well . This can be seen in the list of 20 streams the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has made of chloride impaired urban stream watersheds. Just as we discussed in episode one of the season with regard to wind development, Maine can learn from other states regarding how to manage road salt impacts. For example, Connecticut has followed New Hampshire’s statewide program for training and liability protection to winter contractors. New York has also proposed a road salt applicator training program. They also pilot a program for road salt reduction that is saving the state costs in some Adirondack communities. The main reason salt is used on our roads is to ensure traffic safety for those who need to travel after a storm . According to the report, approximately 67% of all lane departure crashes from 2010 to 2019 occurred during the winter period. Federal Highway Administration data shows that the winter period accounted for an economic loss value of 618 million dollars on a yearly average during the 2010 through 2019 period. MaineDOT also reported that the yearly average cost was 309 million dollars from fatalities alone. The authors suggest a few recommendations for mitigating the ongoing concern for road salt use. The first is that the public needs to better understand the fiscal and environmental costs of winter maintenance. They suggest that all levels of government MaineDOT, Maine Turnpike Authority, as well as municipal need to better articulate the tradeoffs for different levels of service . The second is their recommendation that Maine develop a statewide chloride reduction plan that identifies and prioritizes salt reduction in regions with environmentally sensitive areas on already impacted areas. To accomplish this, they suggest MaineDOT and MaineDEP increase their monitoring of chlorides and water bodies and make this information easily accessible to the public through a data dashboard, which would also contribute to the goal of public awareness. Funding sources should also be identified to help underfunded municipalities upgrade their equipment training and winter practices. Finally, the authors recommend collaboration. They write, quote, “Maine could benefit from stronger connections between university research, environmental monitoring, and road practitioners.” An examination of the partnership structures and practice in other states in New England at both state and municipal levels may offer models for collaborative partnerships in Maine. Now that we have covered the report, we’ll hear from Jonathan Rubin, professor at the University of Maine, director of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, and contributor to the report. After him, we’ll hear from Brian Burne, a highway maintenance engineer for the MaineDOT. Thank you for joining us today, Jonathan. Jonathan Rubin: My pleasure. Thank you, Eric. Eric Miller: So to start off, what are some of the most significant trends and differences since your last report that was released 10 years ago? Jonathan Rubin: Well, I think in some senses what’s changed is really what has not changed. What has changed is the weather. Climate change has made the frequency and intensity of storms greater. We’ve all seen that very recently, and with the changing weather, you do get changing freezing thaw patterns, which changes the way, you want to manage and control your winter maintenance. So, that is a, that physical change is something we have to adapt to in the state in terms of our winter maintenance practices. Also what’s sort of changed and yet stayed the same is that the costs are still high. About 10 years ago when we did this, it was about a hundred million across the Maine Turnpike Authority, the Maine Department of Transportation and the municipal governments with municipal governments covering about 80% of the roadway in terms of maintenance. And now we’re at up to about 150 million dollars . So in some senses, what stayed the same is that the costs are still really high, and they’re going high for a number of reasons, including weather, as I mentioned. But also the price of inputs goes up, the price of labor goes up. So our costs are not declining, but in fact rising over that time period. And that’s something that everybody should care about . Eric Miller: Yeah. And not every town feels in Maine feels the effects equally as Maine as a, from a biophysical standpoint experiences very different conditions from coastal to mountainous ranges. So the way that you finished the last bit of your answer there about how costs are changing recently do you expect to have winter costs to continue to rise? Jonathan Rubin: I do. Costs are gonna rise unless we collectively as a state that means main Department of Transportation, main Turnpike, authority, and the towns right. The towns are responsible for 80% of winter road maintenance. So, unless people make changes to the way we maintain our roads, how quickly we clear them, get them down to pavement. If unless we make changes, why we are not going to expect any changes in the cost. Because materials are not going to get cheaper. Labor’s not going to get cheaper. Equipment’s not going to get cheaper. So there’s no reason to think the costs are going to go down unless we make changes and those are going to be policy changes at the state and local level . Eric Miller: That makes a lot of sense. So something I found pretty interesting about the report is that many towns spend of like quite a variation of range of costs in terms of maintaining the roads in winter, even if they’re at similar sizes. Would you care to elaborate on why that is? Jonathan Rubin: Well, some of the cost differences in towns Are due to just where they are. Western Interior is quite a bit different in terms of needs versus southern coastal versus an island community. They have very, they are very different towns in terms of snow impacts, ice impacts, freeze thaw cycles. So part of it is just fate of where people are. But some of it is also policy decisions. Some towns clear sidewalks, others don’t, and so that clearing sidewalk cost goes into the winter maintenance cost. So those are, again, I’m not saying I love,  I’m a walker. I think we should clear sidewalks. Not saying we shouldn’t, but that is a reason why you have some cost differences in towns. Another major reason you have cost differences in towns, we think because it’s hard to know for sure, but we think it’s because of choices that towns are making, how quickly to get the roads clear. How do we do our secondary or secondary roads brought down to bare pavement or is some standing snow left there for and people are told to slow down and drive more slowly on snow packed roads. Now what you expect for the interstate is not what you’re going to expect coming out your driveway. And there’s differences in those types of roads and how to maintain them. So some of that is a choice. Another difference is some towns use their own employees, municipal employees for the and other towns contract out to, to to private contractors. Again, those explain some of the differences in the per town costs, but not all. I think a lot of this may come down to and it’s hard to know for sure, but a lot of this may come down to just this policy level choices at the town about how quickly they want snow cleared and how thoroughly I Eric Miller: see, I see. It’s, I know that me personally driving around in winter particularly after the storm, I was in Hampden recently and I saw a flurry of contractors clearing out all of the, what I believe to be contractors, whether it’s by municipality or individual businesses were putting in a lot of work. And so it’s interesting to get an idea of how some of these operations vary so much because you think it’s snow clearing. So it seems like a pretty uniform type of approach, but in fact, there are significant differences in how different areas handle their specific situation and decide to go with the route that they do. Jonathan Rubin: Yeah, that’s correct. So, so some of it’s beyond, so some of it is beyond the controlled towns and some is within is within their control. And these are things that towns should talk about. We talk about school budgets, we talk about police budgets. I think talking about winter maintenance budgets and expectations is a perfectly reasonable thing for towns to talk about because it affects our tax rates . Eric Miller: Absolutely, and the cost outlined the report which I encourage people to check the executive summary of the report because there are some pretty shocking figures in there. To finish things off what is something you’d like to share that we haven’t covered already? Jonathan Rubin: I think one thing we know that safety we, why do we clear roads? We clear these roads for mobility and safety and it’s really important. I wouldn’t want anyone to say, Professor Rubin or Jonathan Rubin is advocating we don’t clear our roads. We need clear roads for our economy and for safety. And it’s not an either or. These are choices that we make. But safety is something we really have to pay attention to, especially with younger drivers and older drivers. And so I think thinking of just remembering. Getting to your destination as fast as possible after snow days may not be the wisest choice. Eric Miller: Makes a lot of sense. Thank you so much for joining us today professor Rubin and I look forward to having you on again sometime. Jonathan Rubin: Thanks, Eric. Eric Miller: Thanks for joining us, Brian. Brian Burne: Sure. Glad to be here. Eric Miller: The MaineDOT costs related to winter expenditures have risen from about 30 million to 46 million from fiscal year 2016 to fiscal year 2020. What are the most significant reasons for this increase? Brian Burne: Well, when you look at two specific winters, like those two, a lot of that is just related to the winter severity. So we had a little bit more of a mild, or actually it was quite mild winter, back in 15 to 16. And you know, the 19 to 20 winter was a little more severe. But absolutely snow and ice costs have, you know, just been on a continuous increase for the last decade or so, and especially in this past year. And that’s on pretty much every single line. So when you’re looking at labor all of those costs relating to labor, All the benefits for the labor that’s all increased. Salt increased dramatically this past year it went from $63 a ton on average, that MaineDOT pays up to over $80 a ton. So that was a very dramatic increase that hit us all at once. Same thing with trucks. Trucks have gotten very expensive. If you can get ’em, they’re very difficult to even get. It’s very difficult to get parts. All the parts have increased. Plow blades, we used to be down around, say $35 a foot, and now you’re up around a hundred. It’s it’s just been every single thing that you can think of has increased in cost. You know, not only just the regular cost of living increases that you normally see, but there’s just been all the challenges that. That are facing more than just the snow and ice industry right now. They’re facing a lot of industries but they’ve all kind of hit and hopefully they’re gonna, you know, not be quite so bad going forward. You know, the, we’ve seen the diesel prices spike up and, you know, now they seem like they’re kind of stabilizing a little bit, and hopefully they’ll stay that way, but or maybe even go back down, which will be nice. But yeah it’s been quite an increase over, over time. Eric Miller: Wow. MaineDOT has, is similarly affected to economic conditions as the rest of us which I, we in the public don’t hear about specifically these things very much. I had no idea, like the price of salt, for instance. Do you mind elaborating on, I’m very curious about why salt prices increased for folks like you. Brian Burne: Sure. Yeah. Well, Well, I don’t know if many people realize, but there, there’s plenty of salt. There’s no shortage of salt on the on earth. We get most of our salt from Chile. And but what it relies on, of course, is the availability of ocean freight. And of course, any fuel costs associated with running all of that freight are gonna affect it as well. So it’s based on just supply and demand of the ships that are out there and and on the fuel. So, moving that salt from Chile up to Maine, it’s like a full week process to do that. They come right through the Panama Canal and it’s just you know, that, that becomes more expensive. So that’s been what’s mostly affected that. We also get salt from, you know, mines around the country. Sometimes you can get ’em out of New York, sometimes you get ’em outta Canada. Northern Maine is supplied from a mine up in Sussex, new Brunswick. That used to be a POTASH mine and salt mining salt was a waste product of that. But they’ve started mining salt only out of that mine in the last couple of years. So we get some out of there, and, but you know, that price went up just as much. In fact that’s our most expensive salt that’s up close to a hundred dollars a ton. Eric Miller: Wow. Okay. I had no idea. The global supply network of salt fascinating. And the salt, one of those resources that human civilization has been mining and getting in some way or another forever. And the fact that it’s not a scarce resource is kind of amazing, but also makes a ton of sense. So in the report crashes were demonstrated to have been increased during snow and rain. How can drivers best avoid an accident and make roads safer? Brian Burne: Yeah, I, that, that is key. It’s, you know, as your, the Margaret Chase Smith Center report calls out, there’s a lot that goes on with snow and ice control. It’s not just what MaineDOT does, but it’s what we do as a society and you know, what we expect our roads to be like. And how long of a, you know, a disruption can we take with a storm? How long can it take to get back to bare pavement and things like that. But a big part of that, of course, is all of us as individuals taking a look at what our needs are. And if we are the type of person that lives in Maine and has a need to be out driving in storms, you want to make sure that your vehicle’s prepared for that. Going into the winter you want to take a good look at your tires and if you are someone who has to drive in most storms, you need snow tires. It’s these all season ones. It’s, that’s really not what an all season tire is best for is running in a Maine winter. There’s a huge difference. To put snow tires on a vehicle. So if you’re going to be running out in storms, do that. If you can avoid storms for the most part, like if you can, you know if you are using vacation or if your business, you know, shuts down during most snow storms, or you can, you know, however you avoid it. If there’s ways to avoid travel during the storms, then you might be able to get by with an all season type of tire. But if you’re going to be out in it, you’re really gonna want an all season tire. Now a lot of people think of that as. Extra expense. You know, you’re buying two sets of tires, but one of the things that they don’t consider is the fact that when you’re changing to a snow tire in the Fall and changing back to your regular tires in the Spring, you’re rotating those tires. So the tires, both sets are going to last much longer. And you know, so you really don’t, in the long run, the cost is not that different. It’s actually better for you. And the fact that you are safer in your travels during the winter because you’ve got more appropriate tires for that you know, that’s even more important. So that’s the first thing is. Just make sure that you think about how you need to drive during the winters in Maine and that your vehicle is prepared for that. Now when you get into a specific storm or you know, just driving in any kind of, you know, problematic weather, it’s just a matter of slowing down. You know, a lot of times people just kind of get rushing and you know, some of the most dangerous storms are the snow squalls, and I think that’s just because. The day’s bright and clear and people are just trucking along and then they come flying right into a snows squall and they’re just in the middle of a condition that they hadn’t really, it hadn’t built up on ’em, you know, it just was on ’em before they knew it. And it’s one of the causes of some of the most severe crashes that are out there. So when you see snow, when you drive into snow just slow it down. The slower you can go, the better off you’re going to be. Cause once you get ice between the road and your tires. There’s really not a heck of a lot you can do. So you just got to make sure that you’re going slow enough that the impacts are lessened. Eric Miller: Makes a lot of sense. I saw in the report that as speeds increased, as did crashes and Brian Burne: Absolutely. Eric Miller: And so, this, if you could avoid the storm, that’s great, but if you can’t, snow tires and slow down. Makes, makes perfect sense to me. Brian Burne: Yeah, they’ve got a lot of really good snow tires out there now. The technology of snow tires has gotten better and there’s some out there that are just as good as snow tires with studs and they don’t have studs. So there’s a lot of really nice stuff out there. So yeah, you can spend a little bit of time looking up some ratings and things like that. And you know, there’s some good. Eric Miller: Good to know. Good to know. Looking forward, how does MaineDOT think about climate change and technological development with regard to snow and ice control? Could you speak to how these factors affect infrastructure and budgetary planning? How does it vary across coastal and more populated areas in this state versus northern western Maine. A nice and easy one for you. We warmed up to it. Brian Burne: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. There’s quite a lot there to unpackage. So. I guess what let’s take that in pieces. Snow and ice control it’s kind of unique in that there’s aspects of it that don’t change a whole lot. And that piece is mostly the fact that you’re using a freeze point depressant of some sort. So that’s typically sodium chloride that we’re using to do that. To battle the snow and ice, and that’s been around for decades and that’s probably gonna be around for, you know, for the foreseeable future basically. So, that really doesn’t change too much. But a lot of the technology affecting the information that we get you know, the information we use to make decisions, the equipment that we use, all of that changes pretty regularly. And as the technology’s always advancing in that regard. So just as an example that we, these weather stations called Road Weather Information Systems. And if you’re driving down the interstate, you might see it’s, it looks like a utility pole right behind some guardrail and it’s got a bunch of solar panels and devices on it. And what these devices are is that they’re just weather monitoring devices. There’s a camera on there and there’s pavement, temperature sensors, and you know, just all sorts of things that are gathering information for us. So we put these in various locations along the highways, and then we can also do a thing that’s called thermal mapping, which is where we drive the corridor, the entire corridor that these RWIS stations are located on, and we get a thermal profile of the roadway surface. And you do this under some different conditions. So what this does is it shows you your warmer spots and your cooler spots on the highway, but it’ll also relate it to your RWIS so that now you can look at an RWIS and it can now predict, that, okay, this is the information at this one spot where all these sensors are located, but yet four or five miles up the road, you now have an idea of what’s going on up there as well because you have this thermal mapping profile that goes up through there. So that’s just. One example of tools that, you know, are fairly new in helping us understand what’s going on with the roadways. They’re useful for predicting when your temperatures are dropping down and hitting the dew point and you’re getting moisture coming out of the air and freezing up the road surface. we can now predict that a little more accurately than we used to be able to in the past. So that’s just one piece of it. Another piece of technology that’s associated with those same stations is what’s called a grip sensor. So this is just a video device that looks at the roadway, but yet it’s able to figure out whether you’ve got water on the road, ice on the road, snow on the road, or a combination thereof. And it sort of calculates how slippery that road surface is. So this helps us make decisions on when to apply and how much to apply to the roads. So it’s a very useful tool in that regard. It’s also good for providing some metrics. It helps us understand that when we treat a road, how long did it take for that road to recover? So this is, you know, really useful technology. That same type of technology is now available on mobile devices. So we can now attach this type of device to a truck and drive a corridor and get a profile of the grip along that entire corridor so you can find the areas that are slippery in the areas that are not so slippery. So then another aspect of technology that comes into play with this, is a process called MDSS, which is a maintenance decision support system where trucks are outfitted with, it’s GPSAVL, there’s a lot of different terms for it, but it’s basically you are tracking where all your vehicles are located throughout your network and you can also see how much salt they’re applying and you’re recording all of that. So. When you’re looking at your fleet and you’re looking at the salt applications and you’re looking at the coming weather and the past weather and the impacts that your salt applications have had on the corridor, all of this can kind of be combined into these systems that these MD S systems that then helps snow fighters take and make decisions about what their next application might be and when it might be into the future. So there’s just a lot of improvements in technology that take the basic art of applying salts and sands and things of that to a roadway surface with a truck. But also being able to really make sure that there’s a level of accuracy in there that we never had the ability to reach before. Eric Miller: Wow, that is so fascinating and makes sense. And what a tool to help make more efficient decisions, especially among increasing costs. I imagine that you can make allocation decisions much more informed and that’s, yeah uh, Enraptured by that. Brian Burne: Yeah. Eric Miller: Thank you. Brian Burne: From a, yeah, from a you know, a region sort of a standpoint, the other thing that this has helped us with is, you know, monitoring of more remote locations. A lot of these types of devices come with the ability to send alerts so you can set up alerts that if I see the temperature dropping and it looks like the road’s going to freeze send a text message, you know, or send an email or you know, and we have a transportation management center that’s running 24/7 and they’re getting these alerts and these notifications so that they can call out the crews in a more timely manner than we were able to without these tools. Eric Miller: Very interesting. So in terms of the technological innovations are fascinating. So in the coastal areas and as opposed to up over into the more mountainous spots we have this freezing thawing happening a lot in the winter. Over the past few years and looking ahead it seems like that’ll be more of the status quo and Maine’s pretty used to ice, so, how have these how have those conditions affected some of the decision making? That might be different if you, if I’m up over in a more mountainous like Somerset County area . Brian Burne: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. As the temperatures warm we are seeing more icing. We’re seeing later freezing of the ground. So like you just take a look at this year you know, it’s getting really cold today, but this has been, you know, January it was one of the warmer Januarys and we have a system for tracking our roads for when the frost comes into the ground and when the frost leaves the ground. Because as you may or may not be aware when you get into the spring months and frost that’s leaving the ground, your roads go into this really vulnerable state that affect how we can truck on those roads. Because we have to start limiting weights, otherwise the pavements get ruined. And we used to count on a fairly lengthy time during the winter of, you know, totally frozen ground that adds extra support and allows you know, extra weight even. In fact, there’s even a law on the books that looks at axle weights not being enforced through the January February timeframe because the roads were assumed to be not as susceptible. But yet here we are now in a global warming situation where, when January and February was always solidly frozen, it has not been this year. So, in a lot of areas. So that’s a kind of a challenge for us when you’re looking at, you know, so your question was about comparing the mountains with the coast. Yeah. I mean, we’re certainly going to continue to have the more of the icing right along the coast even more so. But I think what’s also happening is we’re starting to see more icing than we ever used to see in more of Northern Maine and Western Maine, because, you know, by the time you get far enough away from the ocean you didn’t really have as much. Going on, but we’re seeing more of it with this warming that’s been happening. So it, it adds a different level of challenges to snow and ice control because certainly as you’re adding more moisture and you’re getting more freezing rain types of events these will dilute your salt products much quicker. And so as they get diluted, they have to be replenished more readily. So that becomes more of an expense. Eric Miller: Okay. Thank you for indulging the question. Or questions rather. Brian Burne: Sure. Eric Miller: The MaineDOT is armed quite a few tools at their disposal. Quite fascinating how these specific technologies can be employed in ways that you never interact with. You just see as an average citizen, you see plows out on the road. You might see MaineDOT trucks or people on the side of the road taking like traffic measurements. Otherwise you don’t really see what’s going on there. So we get a little peek behind the curtain. I’m really enjoying that. Before we go is there something you’d like to share that we haven’t covered in our few minutes this morning? Brian Burne: Well, basically I think it’s just good to you know, share that report that the Margaret Chase Smith Center had written. I think it brings up a lot of good points and makes some of these things share some of these concepts with people. So that people understand that snow and ice control is, it’s a choice that we can make we can choose to have a little bit lower level of service end up saving a little bit of money. You know, it takes a little longer for the roads to come back, but yet you have less of an impact on the environment and things of that nature. But the more that you push for bare pavement quicker, there’s a, there’s repercussions to that. It’s, it requires more materials and there’s going to be more potential impacts resulting from salt on the environment. So it’s a definitely a balancing act that MaineDOT and all the other public works entities across the state and in any winter climate are constantly wrestling with because you certainly don’t want to see accidents on the road. You want people to be safe to get from point A to point B. But there are a lot of other factors that all come together to decide how any particular road is treated and handled from a policy basis. Eric Miller: Always those pesky trade-offs. Brian Burne: Yeah. Eric Miller: Thank you for joining us this morning, Brian. It’s really been a pleasure. Brian Burne: Okay, thanks. What you just heard was a summary of a report titled “Road Salt and Maine, an Assessment of Practices, Impacts, and Safety” and an interview with Jonathan Rubin and Brian Burne. There is a link to the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center’s website in the description of this episode where the report can be found. Maine Policy Review is a peer reviewed academic journal published by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. For all citations for data provided in this episode, please refer to the original article in Maine Policy Review. The editorial team for Maine Policy Review is made up of Joyce Rumery, Linda Silka and Barbara Harrity. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. Thank you to Jayson Heim and Katherine Swacha, script writers for Maine Policy Matters, and to Daniel Soucier, our production consultant. In two weeks, we’ll be covering the past, present, and future of race and public policy in Maine. We’d like to thank you for listening to Maine Policy Matters from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. You can find us online by searching Maine Policy Matters on your web browser. If you enjoyed this episode, please follow us on your preferred social media platform to stay updated on new episode releases. I’m Eric Miller, thanks for listening and please join us next time on Maine Policy Matters.
S3E2 Maine’s Lobster Industry: What Does The Future Hold?
31-01-2023
S3E2 Maine’s Lobster Industry: What Does The Future Hold?
Today, we will be covering James and Ann Acheson’s article entitled “What Does the Future Hold for Maine’s Lobster Industry?”, which covers problems the industry faces that threaten its future, including shell disease, climate change, increased regulations to protect right whales, and economic uncertainty. You can find their article here: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mpr/vol29/iss2/11/ After briefly summarizing the article, we will speak with Rick Wahle, Patrice McCarron, and Geoff Irvine about what has been happening in the lobster industry in the two years since the article was published. Rick Wahle is a professor in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences and the director of the Lobster Institute at University of Maine. Patrice McCarron is the executive director at Maine Lobstermen's Association and the president of Maine Lobstermen's Community Alliance. Geoff Irvine is the Executive Director of The Lobster Council of Canada. Transcript Looking for more information about lobster industry issues from the perspective of US and Canadian researchers? Tune in to this episode of Maine Policy Matters to learn more. This is the Maine Policy Matters podcast from the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine. I am Eric Miller, research associate at the Center. On each episode of Maine Policy Matters, we discuss public policy issues relevant to the state of Maine. Today, we will be covering James and Ann Acheson’s article entitled “What Does the Future Hold for Maine’s Lobster Industry?”, which covers problems the industry faces that threaten its future, including shell disease, climate change, increased regulations to protect right whales, and economic uncertainty. They also focus on several approaches that could help protect the lobster industry, including enacting lower trap limits, expanding markets for live and processed lobster, and increasing in-state processing capacity. This article was published in volume 29, number 2, of Maine Policy Review, a peer-reviewed academic journal published by the Policy Center. James, who went by “Jim”, was an eminent, internationally recognized scholar, whose work transcended disciplinary boundaries, including anthropology, economics, biology, public policy, and natural resource management. He received three National Science Foundation grants and authored over 90 articles in professional journals, along with five books, including The Lobster Gangs of Maine (1988) and Capturing the Commons: Devising Institutions to Manage the Maine Lobster Industry (2004). This episode is dedicated to Jim’s life and the work he accomplished. After briefly summarizing the article, we will speak with Rick Wahle, Patrice McCarron, and Geoff Irvine about what has been happening in the lobster industry in the two years since the article was published. Rick Wahle is a professor in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences and the director of the Lobster Institute at University of Maine. Patrice McCarron is the executive director at Maine Lobstermen’s Association and the president of Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance. Geoff Irvine is the Executive Director of The Lobster Council of Canada. Lobster is the most valuable fishery in the country and most lobsters landed in the United States are caught in Maine. Lobsters have been an important food source for New Englanders since early Colonial times and for Indigenous peoples before. In more recent years, overall lobster landings were worth $485.4 million dollars in 2019. The Maine lobster fishery is one of the world’s most successful fisheries with a high of 132.5 million pounds being caught in 2016. From 2018-2019, catches declined but still remained over 100 million pounds each year, playing a significant role in Maine’s economy. Despite the relative success of the industry, it may face increasing problems in the future. When their article was published in 2020, Jim and Ann Acheson named shell disease; climate change; North Atlantic Right whales; and markets, tariffs, and other economic matters as the four major problems facing the lobster industry. Epizootic shell disease produces unsightly pits, growths, and lesions so that the affected lobsters cannot be sold as high-quality dinner lobsters. Shell disease has had a small effect on Maine’s lobsters to date, but has had disastrous effects on catches in Rhode Island waters. Between 2008 and 2013, an estimated 30% of Rhode Island fishermen were put out of business and others faced severely reduced incomes. Climatic change due to an increase in atmospheric warming has led to increased storms, retreating ice, and rising sea levels that have caused lobsters in Maine waters to shift to colder Canadian waters. Lobster industry advocates do say that lobster can be caught all along the Maine coast despite this observation in the general movement north. Changes in herring movements leading to large schools of herring seeking cooler and deeper waters is leading to a scarcity of a major bait source in Maine waters. All of the ecological complexities regarding climatic change in the Gulf of Maine are something that researchers are continuing to understand. The lobster industry’s problems with right whales began in 1996 when Max Strahan, who had petitioned the federal government to list the spotted owl as an endangered species in the Pacific Northwest, sued the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under the Endangered Species Act to prevent whales from being killed by lobster gear. In a different suit brought to court in 2020 by conservation organizations, the federal judge hearing the case ruled in their favor and found that the federal government was not doing enough to protect right whales from being entangled in lobster fishing gear. Fishermen feel they are being unfairly targeted because most whales are killed by ship strikes, and the proposed rules do nothing to curb ship strikes. Environmentalists argue the law is still not being enforced and that whales are still being killed by lobster gear. The Maine lobster industry believes its whale protection plan is not being given enough credit for reducing risk to the whales. The latest federal omnibus spending bill included a 6 year pause on new whale regulations while funding research as well as innovative fishing gear development which has been celebrated by the lobster industry and criticized by some environmental groups. Lobster fishermen have faced economic problems for a number of years, which they describe as a cost/price squeeze. Between 2003 and 2013, the cost of bait increased 500 percent in response to reductions in the quota fishermen are allowed to catch. Other costs to fishermen have also skyrocketed. Fuel prices increased from $1.50 per gallon in 2002 to $5.00 per gallon in 2010. Prices declined in 2020, but increased again in May of 2022 to peak at $6.43 per gallon for diesel before lowering to the mid to low $5 per gallon mark later in 2022 according to the US Energy Information Administration. A new 36-foot lobster boat, which might have cost $125,000 in 1998, can cost upwards of $400,000 in 2020. The decline in revenue combined with markedly higher costs has put many fishermen in precarious financial straits. An economic study points out that there have recently been large year-to-year swings in lobster prices, quantities, and revenue. In 2020, the market for lobsters was reduced again by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only had the Asian market already been shrinking due to the Chinese- American trade wars, but the European market also contracted due to the pandemic. Jim and Ann Acheson detail hope for the future in the face of these industry problems, including trap limits that would reduce costs for bait, fuel, and traps, while also reducing the number of lines in the water which can aid the right whale problem. Lobster marketing and expansion of local processing capability can also increase lobster sales and increase income to fishermen, dealers, and others in the industry. Now 2 years after the Achesons’ article, the Maine lobster industry continues to face challenges outlined in this piece and new ones as well. For example, the recent suspension of the lobster industry’s certificate of sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council led to a pause in purchasing Maine’s lobsters by some major retailers, such as Whole Foods. These retailers use these certificates as a primary guide for informing consumers about the sourcing of their seafood products.  This move to stop buying Maine’s lobsters was criticized by Senators Collins and King, Representatives Pingree and Golden, as well as Governor Mills. What follows here is a response from “the four members of Maine’s congressional delegation — Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden — along with the state’s governor, Janet Mills, sharply criticized the decision to stop buying Maine lobster. “We are disappointed by Whole Foods’ decision and deeply frustrated that the Marine Stewardship Council’s suspension of the lobster industry’s certificate of sustainability continues to harm the livelihoods of hardworking men and women up and down Maine’s coast,” Now that we have covered the Achesons’ arguments, we will move into our panel discussion about their article. We have with us today Rick Wahle, Patrice McCarron, and Geoff Irvine about some of these issues and what the future might hold. Interview Eric Miller: All righty. Thank you all for joining us today. So to each of you, how does the lobster industry most significantly affect the economic and environmental wellbeing of coastal communities? Our local impacts of Maine s and Atlantic Canada’s lobster industries, similar or quite different? We’ll start with Patrice and Rick to cover Maine and round out with Geoff’s Canadian perspective. Patrice McCarron: Great. Well, I’ll kick us off from Maine’s perspective. I think it would be impossible to overstate the economic importance of the Maine lobster industry to the state of Maine . We are uniquely structured here in that we have an owner operator business model. So every vessel in Maine is owned and operated by the captain. So the state license is about 4,800 people, which means those are 4,800 small businesses. They’re located. In our rural communities. So all of the money that we earn which is, you know, between 500 and 750 million a year annually, direct at the dock is spent locally. So in most coastal communities, the first dollar in those communities is often a lobster dollar. So if we didn’t have those lobster dollars we wouldn’t have economic, economic opportunity. We wouldn’t have a good tax base, we wouldn’t have kids in school. So it really is the foundation of, of the coast for the state of Maine . Geoff Irvine: Yep– well, I’m delighted to be here with you to have this discussion. We’re so linked in terms of our lobster sector in North America. So we work together on everything. So it’s the same in inland Canada and Quebec, Eastern Canada. There are literally hundreds of communities that rely on the lobster sector. I think I did, I did a bit of research on, there are 329 ports in Atlantic Canada, and 174 of them have the landed value of over a million dollars per port. So that’s a dramatic impact. that’s on the harvesting side. On the shoreside sector, it’s also extremely important. We have literally hundreds of lobster plants in those hundreds of communities. The landed value in 2021 was over $2 billion. So that’s the money in the pockets of harvesters to pay, you know, to run their businesses, but with some profit at the end of it. And for the exporters over 3 billion in export value. So by far the most important seafood sector in Canada. And you asked about the environmental well being. It’s a kind of a constant battle between the economic value and the environmental impact of the sector. which we, we all work on every day to try to mitigate, but certainly the seafood sector and the lobster sector, you know, provides some negative environmental impacts. But I think everybody in the sector works hard to mitigate those. Richard Wahle: Great. Well, and I’ll just follow on Patrice here too. And first I just want to say this is such a great opportunity to bring Patrice and Geoff together from both sides of the border. And to celebrate Jim Acheson’s contribution to sort of the human side of lobster science and the lobster world. But to get to your question, Eric you know, Patrice said it well, and I’ll just paraphrase: the American lobster, again, is the most valuable single species fishery for both countries. And you know, 90% of the US harvest value comes from, from the Gulf of Maine, and about 80% comes from Maine itself. So Maine is really sort of the elephant in the room when it comes to the US side. And in any case, you know, while just the landed value of lobsters comprises about 1 to 2% of Maine’s GDP, that’s not counting the number of other industries that really depend on this fishery that would really inflate that GDP contribution. I’m talking about, you know, everything from trap makers, boat builders, the restaurant industry, tourism, and you can go on. It’s just a really important part of Maine ‘s economy, but to our national fisheries, and a really important international trade item as well. Eric Miller: Yeah. Thank you all for, for your various perspectives on the greater context of the lobster industry in the North Atlantic area. And Jim and Ann in their article do note and comment the yeah, the lobster industry on how they jointly manage sustainable harvesting. But there have been increasing concerns and, and discussion surrounding the practices. And we’ll get into those a little bit further. And then climate change is on the horizon as well as external environmental threats. So given the recent threat developments in cost of operations and relatively lower market price of lobster, how are fishermen with smaller boats and nearshore operations feeling about the future of the lobster industry and how their long-term business viability compared with fishermen who have larger boats and fish 50 plus miles offshore? How have relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions and changes in overseas markets changed this? Patrice McCarron: I guess I can jump in again for Maine. You know, the lobster fisheries are wild-caught fisheries. So anybody who is a commercial fisherman always knows you’re sort of at nature’s whim. You never know how much you’re gonna catch. Lobster fisheries are not quota based fisheries, so it’s survival of the fittest, you know, the most skilled fishermen is gonna bring in the biggest catch. But like you say, there’s a lot in terms of the cost formula that fishermen cannot control. So, you know, year after year, the boat price might be really low or it might be really high. In 2021 we had a record boat price. A lot of money. Input costs were high, but boat price was actually higher than that, and it was a profitable year. 2022, just a year later, the boat price has been about half of what we saw in 2021. And input costs for the business have skyrocketed even further. So it’s a very unpredictable business year to year. I think anybody who fishes is by nature somewhat optimistic because you have to be crafty to make ends meet. You have to be a skilled fisherman and a skilled business person. You have to know when to set out your gear. You have to know when to spend time on the water, when you’re gonna maximize your catch. And I think, you know, for the harvesters in Maine they’ve, they’ve gotten really good with that. What’s difficult for our fleet is that it’s very diverse. So you’re asking about boats that fish beyond 50 miles from shore. We don’t actually have that in Maine. We’re an area-based fishery, so we have a state waters only fishery that takes place between zero and three miles from shore, and those are our smallest vessels and they can be very vulnerable. There’s not a lot of wiggle room in that business model. Our larger vessels, you know, we have a handful of boats that would be in the 50 foot range, but we’re typically like 35 to 42, 45 feet long. So again, they’re not super big boats. There’s a lot of unpredictability. Unit costs are high. But I think over time guys just figure out a way to make it work. They’ll adjust their strategy on the fly, and they learn how to put money in the bank in a year like 2021 too. This year, 2022, where, where profits are lower. So there are a lot of threats, there’s a lot of anxiety, there is a lot of fear about the future, but I would just say fishing’s in their blood and they’re gonna go and they’re gonna hope for the best and they’re just going to be as flexible and innovative as they can to stay in this business. And so far, so good. People are still here. Geoff Irvine: Sure. I mean, it’s very much the same here, although we do have a significant number of in certain parts of the area, Southwest New Brunswick and Southwest Nova Scotia, there is a more mid-shore offshore component. But really the profitability and the business model really depends on how old you are when you got in, what your costs are. So new entrants are finding it very difficult. But, I would argue a bit about low prices. We’ve really, since 2012, even this year, we’ve been on an increase of shore prices for 10 years. And it’s been really very good for many years. 2021, as Patrice said, was an incredible year. Probably the gilded age of lobster, but also the last part of 2020. As soon as the pandemic started to snap back, and really the first half of 2022, our prices, shore prices didn’t start to change here until the end of June. Last year the fall has been more difficult, but this winter our prices are back up, you know, to fairly decent, decent shore prices. So, you know, if you look at the 10 year trend, we’ve seen nothing but increasing prices every year. And also in the market we’ve done a lot of research that shows that 75 to 80% of the export value goes back to the harvester. Very consistently, year in and year out, and just shows you how kind of healthy the industry is. But it’s challenging. And the inputs, I think Jim Acheson calls it the cost price squeeze. And that’s a reality the harvesters have because just because their costs go up doesn’t mean they can charge more because the port price is the port price. And they can’t just say, no, we need more today. It doesn’t work that way. So it’s kind of unfair. But in terms of covid pandemic for the lobster industry was the best thing that ever happened in terms of economic impact. It’s a crass way of putting it, but we’ve never seen a better market for lobster. And so as it adjusts outta the pandemic we’re getting more back to sort of where we were in 2019, which was a very strong market as well. I just looked at the export numbers and 22 is gonna be a big year again, so just gotta keep, keep pushing it and and hope we stay on that trajectory. Richard Wahle: And Eric, I might just add, and I realize this isn’t my wheelhouse, but I’ll only put a little bit of a historical perspective on this. Pulling from the landings graph that Jim has in his paper there, that just shows, you know, for so long, from the 1880s to the 1980s landings almost rock solid with some, you know, dips  during the 1920s and thirties, you know, at least I’m speaking for Maine here,roughly landing about 20 million pounds a year. And that started dramatically changing in the late 1980s, 1990s. And by about 2016Maine was harvesting about six times more than it had been in the 1980s. And while we’ve fallen off that a bit, the value has been maintained although there’s been fluctuations we’ve seen with the coming in and out of the covid years. But I just want to make the point that there’s really a whole generation of fishermen here who’ve known nothing other than a booming fishery. And a lot of their elders have been a lot more conservative about, you know, investing in bigger boats and so forth. But this younger generation have gone whole hog into big boats and venturing offshore, having a couple sternmen. And so I think there’s a concern out there that if things start falling off and costs start becoming unsustainable and with the new whale regulations, that some of these fishermen may be overcapitalized and unable to sustain their businesses at that scale. I’d be interested in Patrice’s or Geoff’s perspective on that. Patrice McCarron: Yeah, I do think that the business model has evolved. I’ve been with the Lobster Men’s Association for 23 years, and from day one I’ve heard from the older lobstermen that the young guys are overcapitalized and they’re in for a rude awakening. And, you know, at least for this last quarter of a century that hasn’t borne itself out. And there have been some economic investigations that are showing that really the most profitable sector of the industry has been this sort of nearshore. Federal waters fishery where you’re carrying more crew because you’re generating overall a lot more income. And I think as we broach the new whale regulations, those are the vessels that have more operating capital. They have more of an ability to invest into high tech more expensive gear. And they may actually prove to be more resilient to some of the places where this management model is shifting. Where you have a small vessel with a single operator, your ability to adapt is pretty limited. Your business model keeps your footprint really small. It keeps you close to shore. You have very small capital flow. And it does really limit your ability to adapt. So that’s one of the things that we’ve really been advocating for through the association, is that we have to recognize that our fleet is very diverse, and it is the combined diversity of that fleet from our small insure boats, our medi and then our larger boats. That together is what makes this fishery really, really work. And to lose any segment of that would really prove to be devastating. So, you know, I don’t know, the jury’s still out in terms of the history that’s yet to be written, but I guess I’m a little bit skeptical about the fact that people are overcapitalized because I think that they have really created a modern business model that has proven very, very effective for them at least so far. Geoff Irvine: Yeah, I could add from the Canadian perspective something I forgot to mention, and that is that we have very specific defined seasons here. So in virtually three quarters of the fishery, it’s a two month season. So you’re either fishing May and June, or you’re fishing September and October. and that’s the whole Gulf of St. Lawrence, that’s all of Newfoundland, all of Quebec, all of Cape Bratton, all of Eastern Nova Scotia. so those harvesters that have a lobster license generally have another job or a business. and we have this, the magic in Canada of the employment insurance program that is a part of our social safety network where harvesters have the ability to have two claims per year because they’re harvesters. So you know, the reality of the business is a little different when you have that kind of support. But, but you know, if you have a two month season, you kind of need it. And we’ve set our fishery up to be that. Patrice McCarron: Yeah, I think another really noteworthy difference–there’s so many similarities between the US and Canadian lobster fisheries, but there are some divergences on the business model–in Maine there’s no cost to entry. So the cost to get into the fishery in Maine is you find somebody to apprentice with and then you sort of buy into the fishery at the level that makes sense for how you want to prosecute the fishery. And you start with a low number of traps and you build up. So in Maine , you can get a skiff, you can get used traps, you can build your way through boats. In Canada there’s actually a cost to entry to actually purchase the license. So the barrier of entry in Canada is significantly higher, is a much higher financial output to get in. We’ve tried to keep Maine sort of more of the traditional model where you can work your way in and kind of not have a model where you need, you know, a big pot of money to actually gain access to the fishery and that that really differentiates some of the profit margins and how the fisheries actually operate. Geoff Irvine: Yeah. And, and that, I guess, the difference as well is that then you can’t sell your license when you want to get out. So here you do have to buy your license, but then you can sell it when you retire. It’s all part of the business calculation. Eric Miller: These are fascinating differences in how people approach their industry. And I am curious about how far offshore are these bigger boats venturing? Because you mentioned, most of them stay with zero to three miles offshore, as well as kind of, if you have an idea of the share of the fishermen that have chosen this more. I don’t know if a more capitalized business model and how noticeable that is compared to 10, 20 years ago. Patrice McCarron: Yeah, so for Maine, the state actually regulates state waters, which are zero to three miles. So every harvester in Maine has a state permit. So we issue the state of Maine issues about 4,800 of those, of that population. just over 20% also get a federal permit from the federal government. So to cross over the three mile line, that’s federal waters, you need to be permitted by the federal government. You do actually need to purchase that license. There’s a limited number of those, so they have to be transferred from person to person. And depending on the market, those have been as high as 40, $50,000 for the permit. And they’re sort of sliding back to, you know, $15,000 right now. So we in Maine have about 1300 federal permit holders. They tend to fish through the winter months. They tend to be on the boats that would be over 40 feet edging up 50 feet or above. Definitely a higher operating cost, but that allows them to kind of nudge over a little bit into the Canadian model where you’re getting to land lobster during the wintertime when it’s a harder shell lobster, a higher yield lobster, typically a higher price lobster. So, the fewer boats were operating offshore, although it costs more to do that, the cost that you’re earning for each lobster that you land tends to be higher and does support that business. I think the big difference between 20 years ago and now is that most of those boats would come in for the summer and then go offshore in the winter.Now a lot of boats strictly fish in federal waters, and if they do come into state waters, they bring a smaller proportion of their gear, so they’ve just sort of shifted away and there’s more of a separation. It’s not, you know, exclusive but less crossover between those federal vessels and those state vessels because the state only tend to be smaller, smaller traps, smaller gangs of gear. And the big boats would have the chance to sort of overwhelm their traps, their boats, their gear. So they’ve been able to make their living by staying more exclusively in federal waters, which is a big shift. Eric Miller: All right. This is an excellent transition into the next question, which is more environmental and climate related. And this change in behavior I find fascinating among lobstermen. How has warming waters and ocean acidification due to climate change affected current lobster stock and longer term confidence in the fishery? Is there increasing concern regarding the ecological condition and changing patterns of the Gulf of Maine in general? Rick, if you don’t mind starting us off. Richard Wahle: Sure, I’d be happy to start that off. And it’s a big question. Well, you know climate change has certainly played a really important role in the past decades. And we’re really seeing its signature on the shifting lobster stocks. and just to sort of set the stage, it’s important to realize that there’s a really,striking temperature gradient from the northeast to the southwest along our coastline. So, you know, Bay of Fundy and eastern Maine are much colder during the summer than say, southern New England. But all these areas have been warming at about roughly the same rate as a result of climate change. But whereas the southern New England was sort of well into the lobster comfort zone, temperature-wise, if you will, early in that time, as things got warmer, the adverse effects of warmer temperatures were really taking their toll. We started to see it in the form of mass mortalities in Long Island Sound that knocked the stock down by 75%. It’s never really recovered from that. We saw shell disease rear its ugly head. Back in the late nineties, early 2000s, prevalence levels went up to like 35% and have just pretty much stayed there ever since and started spreading to the north. And that really knocked back the southern New England stock seriously. But at the other end of the range, in the Bay of Fundy and eastern Maine, we saw that that same warming was starting to bring the lobster nursery habitats into the comfort zone of the lobster. And it started to trigger this wave of larval settlement into nursery areas that were otherwise at very low population densities, or virtually vacant great looking habitat, but nobody’s home. That all changed in the early 2000s, and on up to, to now. And it elevated, it ended up elevating the fishery to its current status now as the most valuable single fishery in New England. In the US we’re really seeing that eastern Maine area, that boom that we saw there really accounted for that dramatic shift. But I should also say it’s not just climate change. We also have been seeing the effects of depleting groundfish, and groundfish are an important predator in this system. This has been seen, you know, throughout the range, whether you’re talking Atlantic Canada or the US. People point their finger to the depletion of cod and certainly cod are an important predator. But really it’s the entire assemblage of groundfish that include flatfish, you know, flounder, halibut, goose fish or monk fish as they’re usually called, other bottom dwelling or near bottom fish that have been widely depleted since the 1970s, eighties. And so that predator release only acted to favor lobsters. And in fact, you know, I remember talking to fishermen back in the nineties already who were saying, you know, we’re catching lobsters in places we’ve never seen ’em before. Way out in the wide open. Well, there weren’t any predators there anymore, or at least the big ones that really take their toll on the small lobsters. Groundfish were severely depleted, so it’s a combination I think we can say the boom was the result of the joint effects of both the favorable effects of warming temperatures, but also the depletion of ground fish. And of course, taking the bigger geographic perspective and including Atlantic Canada, you know, we’re seeing this eastward shift of the center of the population. And definitely southern Gulf of St. Lawrence has been seeing an increasing wave of lobsters and even Nova Scotia and the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence is seeing higher landings than they’ve ever seen before. So there’s definitely this northward shift as a consequence of warming climate and depleted pressure, predators. Eric Miller: It’s fascinating how ecological systems function in that way and how connections ecologically just move in this truly dynamic manner. I mean, you often hear warming waters, you hear moving lobster so you kind of scratch your head when you see the stocks being caught at this level. But there you have it. The predation being decreased because this was happening due to climate change. So we’ve got some almost increasing foot Northern fishery news. And are there reasons that those of us in the southern part of the fishery are people more nervous? Patrice McCarron: Yeah, so, so I can jump in. , you know, I think overall from a fisherman’s perspective, climate change has been positive, whether you fish in downeast Maine or southern Maine, I think one of the confusing things about the center of abundance shifting north doesn’t necessarily mean that things have crashed below. So, you know, as Rick described in southern New England, that sort of a different oceanographic regime south of Cape Cod, a different system. And, we did see a crash, and that is concerning. But the Gulf of Maine is its own sort of semi enclosed system and we have not seen that crash. We’ve seen landings in southern Maine on a very, very slow increase, above flat, but certainly not on a decline other than the inter-annual variability. We saw in the late nineties and the early 2000s, mid-coast Maine is where the center of abundance had really blossomed, where it had been in Casco Bay prior to that, and then more recently in downeast Maine. And we’re seeing those rises in Canada. But nobody should think that we’re not landing lobster in southern Maine or mid-coast Maine anymore. The landings have really been robust and steady, and the resource remains very strong and people are optimistic about that. I think the other really encouraging thing that came out of the literature on climate change was a study that compared southern New England with the Gulf of Maine, and it found very specifically that the sustainability measures the stewardship practices that we have in the Gulf of Maine fishery, had they been implemented in southern New England, would’ve lessened that decline significantly. So we can’t prevent climate change. We can’t prevent the impacts on the resource, but we certainly have a very robust conservation plan in place, which has provided a buffer. So if Mother Nature is going to provide conditions that are gonna see the lobster stock contract somewhat, we have sort of built in all the protections and that decline is going to be a lot less severe of a drop off than what they experienced in the southern Maine because we are protecting our baby lobsters and our oversized lobsters and our bycatch goes back alive. And we just have a lot of really practical measures that I think really honor sort of the biology of the resource in a really practical way. And a lot of that stuff obviously translates up to Canada as well, so I think fishermen remain very optimistic. I think everybody is sort of bracing for some sort of softening of the landings over time. You know, how severe those are gonna be. The jury’s out; models say different things, but everything is basically saying, you’re not gonna continue up here forever. But we feel like there is a business model if the landings do start to start to soften a little bit in the next few years. And we’ve seen little bits of that so far, but I don’t know, Geoff, probably you’re seeing similar but different things up in Canada, right? Geoff Irvine: Yeah, no, very, very much similar. I mean, I was in Newfoundland a few months ago and I was, this is the first live lobster holding facility in Newfoundland. There hadn’t been one there. So that shows you how much more they’re landing in Newfoundland and Labrador than ever. The landings in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Cape Breton, eastern Nova Scotia all trending up. and in the southern part of the rain, southwest New Brunswick and southwest Nova. You know, there’s still a wonderful business model there, there’s still a great catch. But I mean, we’re seeing that the peak landings were 2016 and we’re seeing them kind of weaken off. I mean, that’s a very recent history. but I think there’s, there’s definitely some concern about what the future holds. And as we talked about earlier, when you’re paying a million dollars for a license in LFA 34 and 500 grand for a boat that’s a big investment. And so this kind of thing keeps people up at night at times, thinking about what the future will hold. So, I mean, it’s like Patrice said, it’s hard to know what it’s gonna look like, but I think there’s absolutely some concern in the southern part of the range and in the northern part sort of great enthusiasm and, and optimism. but as Patrice said, we also have very, very good harvest control rules in place. And every LFA, if the stock goes down a certain amount. We have things that the harvesters can implement to adjust their catch, to adjust their effort to ensure that we keep the everything sustain. Eric Miller: Fascinating. Rick, would you mind elaborating on for, for our listeners, the how vulnerable lobsters are to acidification where the science is there for that aspect of this issue? Richard Wahle: Yeah. Well, the story on acidification is a relatively new and, and short one compared to our understanding of temperature effects. But, you know, it’s a topic that really only has gained some traction in, you know, 10, 15 years ago. And we’re starting to learn a lot across different species and taxa. And with respect to lobsters and crabs some of the literature showing that, you know, these crustaceans are relatively resistant to acidification effects compared to, say, oysters and clams and so forth that are very vulnerable, especially at their earliest life stages when, you know, shells dissolve when on the mud flats, just as they’re settling. So the concern is less for the American lobster in any case, is less focused on acidification effects or their adverse effects, as they are on the direct and indirect effects of warming temperatures. And, you know, even among crustaceans, that varies a bit because, as we look west to some of the Alaska crab fisheries, and their early life stages seem to be more vulnerable to those changes. So but our American lobster for now looks like from the work,and the literature and some of the work that has been done by my colleagues suggest that there are mechanisms in place, physiological mechanisms, that can cope with these changes in acidification. Eric Miller: Fascinating. Thank you for that elaboration to go a little deeper on a notable consequence of climate change, mentioned by Jim and Ann Acheson in their article. As lobstermen south of Maine experienced economic hardships largely due to things like episodic shell disease. How much concern is there along the Maine coast about this specifically? Are there any preventative or mitigating measures for this disease? And these two separate kind of larger capitalized federal waters, fishing, lobstermen, lobstering operations, and the smaller boats is one group more vulnerable to their share of lobster being affected by epizootic shell disease? Patrice McCarron: I, yeah, I guess I. Yeah. so it’s not reached a crisis point for the Maine fishery. I mean, certainly that southern New England fishery that had pretty extreme warm water temperatures, I mean temperatures measured on