2013 Maine Beaches Conference

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Multimedia Session

Exhibits, posters, art and photography exhibits, and demonstrations of web tools for cooperation.

Lessons from Sandy: What are the take-aways for Maine? 

Session Notes (PDF)

Superstorm Sandy impacts and lessons learned in New York: Jay Tanski, New York Sea Grant Program (Presentation available)
Superstorm Sandy was one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the coast of New York. Record storm surges and the largest waves ever recorded caused extensive damage along the shoreline and a wide range of impacts, some which were anticipated and others that were largely unexpected. This presentation will look at some of these impacts with a focus on the Long Island and New York City Metropolitan area.

Nor’easter impacts: John Cannon, National Weather Service (Presentation available)
Intense, slow moving Nor’easters can lead to coastal flooding along vulnerable communities and estuaries in Maine and New Hampshire. Recently, empirical studies in this region have also suggested that the combined, synergistic effects of storm tides and large, battering waves created by these storms can lead to enhanced splash-over damage. In order to better understand the complex environmental conditions associated with this coastal erosion, the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine has partnered with the Wells National Estuarine Reserve, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Sea Grant and other federal agencies. The ultimate goal is to build a conceptual model for forecasters and other scientists to improve their prediction of erosion and inundation processes in our region. Coastal flooding and environmental conditions can lead to both extratropical storm surge and building of high energy waves along our coastline. These high impact events have occurred with notable storms, including the “Perfect” and “Patriot’s Day” storms, and most recently, the devastating landfall of “Sandy” in October 2012. Collaborative partnerships focus on the improvement of predicting erosion from such storms along our shoreline.

Monitoring trends and how Maine can prepare: Peter Slovinsky and Steve Dickson, Maine Geological Survey (Presentation available)
Maine narrowly escaped the wrath of Superstorm Sandy but experienced a storm with the power of a winter northeaster. Maine’s largest storm tide came from the Blizzard of 1978 when water levels rose about 2 feet over the level of the highest tides. There have been many storm surges that were larger than the Blizzard of 1978, but their timing was such that the tide was low during the peak of the storm. We present a storm tide scenario based on historical data with slightly different timing, discuss the water levels to prepare for, and show maps of some areas that could be inundated by this possible event, “Maine’s Superstorm.”

Approaches for Coastal Erosion Control

Session Notes (Microsoft Word)

The evolution of coastal erosion control technology: Peter Hanrahan, E J Prescott, Inc.
How have technology and best management practices for coastal erosion control evolved up until the present time? In many coastal areas, conventional hard armor practices have either fallen out of favor or been outlawed. We have learned a great deal about the complexity of coastal zones and the impact of poorly thought-out solutions. In response to these challenges, innovative approaches have evolved rapidly over the past few decades, including approaches from a regulatory, environmental, legal and public perspective.

Maine’s largest beach scraping effort: Steve Dickson, Maine Geological Survey
In December 2011 Maine’s largest beach scraping effort was undertaken at Popham Beach State Park in Phippsburg. This effort was designed to work with natural processes and accelerate shoreward sand bar’s movement in front of a bath house threatened by erosion. The bath house, initially planned to be over 500 feet behind dunes, was on the brink of being undermined by erosion with one or two more winter storms. The beach scraping effort included preservation of piping plover habitat, and we now have outcomes and shoreline trends over the last two years.

Beach landscaping and dune restoration: Sue Schaller, Bar Mills Ecological
Native landscaping is a form of habitat restoration; it provides resources to support wildlife, may improve protection from storm surge, is attractive to look at, can create privacy, improve property values, and is more sustainable over the long term. Habitat restoration in frontal dune systems is especially rewarding and can strengthen property values. Landscaping practices by individual property owners can significantly affect the quality of adjacent dune habitats for wildlife now and in the future, as well water quality of nearby swimming beaches. This program offers landowners a few easy guidelines to create a more natural (and native) habitat that reduces long term costs, maintenance, the need for using pesticides and fertilizers, and contamination of the water we swim. In the process, landowners can achieve a more resilient landscape that is attractive, that reflects our sense of place when we go to the coast, and that supports native birds, butterflies and wildlife. The 2007 Patriot’s Day Storm was a Class 1 hurricane that resulted in large losses of the frontal dune along Old Orchard Beach. FEMA funding helped make initial repairs and the Town has worked to maintain those repairs since. Private property owners are becoming more aware of the value of the dunes in protecting adjacent residences and business and have adopted similar practices on their own property. The result is a more continuous dune which helps intercept energy from storm waves and is gradually increasing in elevation, thus adding to the protection this resource provides.

Considering state and federal regulations: Marybeth Richardson, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and Jay Clement, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
A general overview of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Coastal Sand Dune Rules includes information specifically focused on how dune construction and erosion management activities are regulated by the Rules. These activities also are regulated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


Session Notes (PDF)

Partners Promoting Tourism on Maine’s Beaches: Carolann Oulette, Maine Office of Tourism; Keith Fletcher, Maine Coast Heritage Trust; Roxanne Eflin, Maine Development Foundation/Maine Downtown Center; Paige Farmer,  Maine Beaches Association

The Maine Beaches Association partners with the Maine Office of Tourism and a selection of other private and state agencies (e.g., Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and Scenic Byways) to promote Maine and the Southern Beaches region as a four-season vacation destination.

Beach Profile Monitoring

Session Notes (PDF)

The State of Maine’s Beaches in 2013: Insights from Beach Profile Monitoring: Peter Slovinsky, Maine Geological Survey; John Cannon, National Weather Service; and beach profile monitoring volunteers
Beach changes are observed by volunteer data gathered by the State of Maine Beach Profiling Project, in addition to the Maine Beach Mapping Project. Shoreline changes observed since 2011 at the majority of southern Maine’s beaches allow scientists to assign letter grades for the overall “status” of the beaches in terms of shoreline change trends. Observations are documented in the 2013 State of Maine’s Beaches Report released during this session.

Clean Water for Clams

Session Notes (PDF)

Water quality for shellfish growing areas: Kohl Kanwit, Maine Department of Marine Resources (Presentation available)
The Department of Marine Resources Bureau of Public Health conducts three distinct types of monitoring along many of Maine’s beaches. DMR collects regular water quality samples to test for fecal coliform contamination, shellfish samples during the spring through fall to test for harmful marine biotoxins (red tide), and shoreline survey work to identify and investigate potential pollution sources. These three monitoring activities together allow DMR to classify shellfish growing areas and provide both commercial and recreational harvest opportunities.

Community engagement in water quality: Ruth Indrick, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (Presentation available)
Over the past three years, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust has focused on coastal water quality in the Kennebec Estuary region through the lens of “Clean Water for Clams.” Using clams and clamming as a starting point for conversations about water quality and its importance to the community, the land trust and its partners have provided outreach at community programs about clamming and coastal pollution sources, recruited volunteers, collected water samples for testing, led programs in classrooms, and brought students and families outside to dig in the mud. Clams and other shellfish are harvested along Maine’s tidal mud flats and beaches, and harvesters face several challenges that actions in the Kennebec are intended to confront, providing a case study for methods that can be used to engage a community in its water quality and lay the foundation for a discussion about ways to build community support for coastal resources.

Clean water for aquaculture: Sebastian Belle, Maine Aquaculture Association (Presentation available)
Maine’s aquatic farmers grow their healthy and sustainable seafood directly in the marine environment. Water quality and healthy ecosystems are key to producing clean, healthy, local seafood. Maine’s aquatic farmers regularly advocate for regulations that protect the environment and ensure high water quality. The relationship between clean water and animal health and welfare will be explained. With over 160 farms along the coast, Maine’s aquatic farmers are local watchdogs that protect water quality and monitor the environment.

Partnerships for Beaches

Session Notes (PDF)

Strategies to build teamwork: Tony Lacertosa, Peerless Leadership Development (Presentation available)
A growing body of research shows that organizations who invest in improving teamwork experience better results, lower operating costs and have more highly engaged stakeholders who come to consensus on action plans in a shorter amount of time and with less conflict. These benefits are especially valuable to environmental research and education organizations who are dealing with tight operating budgets, a diverse group of interested parties who may not all have the same vision, and an ever-changing staff of volunteers. A team goes through stages of development as it progresses from when it first forms to when it operates like a well-oiled machine. These stages have been identified in a widely accepted work by the respected educational psychologist Dr. Bruce Tuckman. Certain behaviors that research has shown result in highly productive teamwork. Armed with this knowledge, participants will be able to look at their own workplace teams in terms of these behaviors to determine those areas that need to be addressed in order to improve effectiveness, efficiency and collaboration in their organizations.

Teaming-up to track bacteria in Kittery: Jessa Kellogg, Town of Kittery (Presentation available)
The Town of Kittery has recently partnered with various groups to discern the source of bacteria hotspots in areas ranging from the beaches and marshes to outfalls and backyards. Working with Maine Healthy Beaches, Canine Detections Services, FB Environmental, The Spruce Creek Association, and the Kittery Department of Public Works has created unique collaborative approaches and a sharing of information and outreach opportunities not realized previously. For example, one project to locate and map backyard catchbasins (previously managed by the Navy and now unmanaged) led to well-known bacteria (E. coli) hotspots on Spruce Creek. After mapping, dogs were used to detect the nature of the fecal matter (human versus animal), and the potential contaminant flow. Another effort worked to identify the source of Enterococci in tide pools at Fort Foster Park that led to several beach closures. With mapping, sampling, and the use of dogs to determine if it was animal (possible beavers in the nearby marsh) or human, we were able to link the source back to an outhouse that has now been removed. These are just a few examples, but can highlight the importance of resource sharing and unique partnerships that lead to better results in bacteria source tracking.

Partners for Clean Water in South Boston: Judith Pederson, MIT Sea Grant (Presentation available)
Urban beaches present a unique problem because sources of pollution that result in beach closures require large expenditures to resolve. Closures of these beaches not only affect those that live in the area, but result in loss of income to the businesses near the beach. A combination of scientific data, citizen advocacy, and political will resulted in opening five urban beaches in south Boston, Massachusetts, with increased revenues to the region of several million dollars each year.

Maine’s Ever-Changing Beaches

Session Notes (PDF)

Sea-level rise impacts on coastal archaeological sites: Nathan Hamilton and Rob Sanford, University of Southern Maine
What is the relationship between stability, sea-level rise and archaeology? Coastal erosion coupled with sea-level rise threatens both prehistoric and historic archaeological sites and Holocene landscapes. The archaeology of the Gulf of Maine coast contains a rich and diverse record of human activities adapting to the sea and river mouths. These threatened sites are well known from a protracted interest by natural history and archaeology studies beginning in the mid-nineteenth century. Prehistoric sites often contain shell refuse that preserves bone refuse of birds, fish, mammals and other shellfish species. Currently more than 180 species have been documented from excavated and published sites. With the potential for acceleration of sea-level rise in the coming decades the management of this 5,000-year-old cultural resource must be developed. The management process must evaluate risk and propose conservation measures that are practical in the short and long term. The biological specimens recovered from the archaeological matrix now have realized new potentials to understand the evolution of ecological systems in the Gulf of Maine.

Three ways of tracking change on Maine’s beaches and what they are telling us: Joseph Kelley, University of Maine (Presentation available)
All visitors to beaches appreciate that beaches are “everchanging.” To a coastal geologist, these changes are recorded in numerous ways in 1) features we see on the beach; 2) structures we observe beneath the beach, and 3) longer time-series of images of beaches. These three scales are covered by more than 25 years of research along the coast as well as numerous photographs taken from the same location over time. What one concludes from an examination of beaches through time is that the appearance of a beach on a given (typically summer) day is representative of conditions that ensued over the previous few days up to two weeks. Larger structures beneath the beach and nearby areas provide a longer timeline, often going back through cycles of erosion and beach growth more than 30 years. Large changes and trends in beach configuration are only apparent over longer time intervals seen in historic maps and air photos.

Pollution Source Tracking

Session Notes (PDF)

The source tracking toolbox: Keri Kaczor, UMaine Cooperative Extension/Maine Healthy Beaches; Fred Dillon, City of South Portland; John Bucci, University of New Hampshire; and Emily DiFranco, FB Environmental Associates (4 Presentations available)
Tourism is an integral component of the Maine economy and spending related to beaches is estimated to be over $500 million annually. Elevated fecal bacteria levels impair coastal waters and may post a human health risk. Rivers, streams and storm drains transport pollutants from upland areas to the shoreline. Identification and remediation of harmful bacteria sources often requires enhanced monitoring and in-depth studies beyond the immediate shoreline area. The “Pollution Source Tracking Toolbox” includes successful and innovative tools to identify pollution sources impacting valued coastal beaches, from Maine Healthy Beaches strategies to address sources of bacterial pollution, to the City of South Portland bacteria and optical brightener study of the storm drainage network, to genetic and molecular techniques allowing differentiation of pollution sources at the species level, to sewage-sniffing dogs.

Floodplains and Flooding

Session Notes (PDF)

Understanding flood zones: Jim Nadeau, Nadeau Land Surveys (Presentation available)
Beach communities located in a Special Flood Hazard Area according to the National Flood Insurance Program are subject to stricter regulations than their inland neighbors in terms of planning, development, and insurance rating, but that does not necessarily mean inland residents are better protected from flood risk. An understanding of flood zones is essential to staying safe, reducing property damage from flooding, and having adequate insurance coverage. Horizontally-scaled Coastal Flood Zone delineations impact insurance requirements. Even communities that are located on higher elevation or behind immediate shorefront property can be impacted by storm surge and wave activity. In fact, their risk is actually higher due to less stringent building standards outside the Coastal V Zone, and because many are not required to obtain mandatory flood insurance based on FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps. We will discuss inaccuracies with the flood maps, use of current technology in coastal planning, and how to best prepare for future changes in the flood zones.

Understanding the National Flood Insurance Program: Sue Baker, Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (Presentation available)
It is important for coastal property owners to understand the National Flood Insurance Program and how the regulatory development standards and flood insurance requirements may affect them. Information discussed includes how the NFIP works in general, what type of development standards are necessary as improvements are made to the structure/property, and flood insurance requirements, including an overview of the insurance changes that will become effective due to the passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012.

Storm surge impacts: Peter Slovinsky, Maine Geological Survey (Presentation available)
NOAA tidal station in Portland has been recording water levels for the past 100 years, one of the longest continuously operating stations in the United States. The Maine Geological Survey recently analyzed hourly and daily-averaged recorded data from the tidal station over the past 100 years (1912-2012), and has determined some interesting trends on long and short-term sea-level rise, seasonal sea level changes, historic storm surge levels, and overall historic total water levels (combined tides and surges). This presentation will explore the latest findings from Portland’s tidal data, with a focus on historic storm surges and overall water levels.

Ecological Values

Session Notes (PDF)

Working in watersheds to understand what communities value: Chris Feurt, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (Presentation available)
Beaches are shaped and affected by the coastal watersheds that deliver sand, influence water quality, and function as part of land-sea integrated habitats for biodiversity. Recent work by collaborative partnerships in the Salmon Falls Watershed, the Merriland River, Branch Brook and Little River complex and the Saco Watershed are identifying the ecosystem services valued by communities, monitoring the health of those systems, and developing collaborative governance strategies that engage all levels of government, nonprofits and business. Partners offer lessons learned and challenges experienced as they work together to sustain the ecosystem services of coastal watersheds and estuaries linked to Maine’s Beaches.

What does a forest in Sanford have to do with a beach in Wells? Tin Smith, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (Presentation available)
The change in southern Maine from forests and farms to houses is impacting the water quality of our coastal rivers, estuaries and beaches. This degradation could prove irreversible once certain thresholds are crossed. There are numerous efforts to protect our natural landscapes and there are numerous reasons why coastal residents should not only care but be active participants.

Endangered shorebirds on Maine’s beaches—the birds, the beaches, and why it matters: Laura Minich Zitske, Maine Audubon (Presentation available)
Both piping plovers and least yerns are “beach specialists” in terms of nesting behavior: they require sandy beaches in order to raise their young and survive. With increasing demands on Maine’s limited beaches, both species are endangered in Maine and piping plovers are listed as threatened on the federal level. These birds are well-equipped to handle the rigors of the beach environment, but increasing pressures are making their recovery more difficult. But they are worth protecting, and everyone can help.

Marine Invasives

Session Notes (PDF)

Monitoring Maine’s Marine Invaders: Beth Bisson, Maine Sea Grant, Jeremy Miller, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Sarah Morrisseau, Christine Voyer, and Jeffrey Rubel, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Jessica Muhlin, Maine Martime Academy, and Sue Richman, South Portland High School (3 Presentations available)
This session will provide an overview of ongoing marine invasive species monitoring efforts in the State of Maine. Beth Bisson from Maine Sea Grant and Dr. Jessica Muhlin from Maine Maritime Academy will share information about a relatively recent arrival to Maine, the invasive red seaweed, Heterosiphonia japonica, which was first identified on Maine islands in 2011, and has generated concern among coastal property owners, resource managers, and municipalities. Dr. Muhlin will lead participants in a brief species identification training to help distinguish this species from other red algae species. Christine Voyer and Sarah Morrisseau, from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, will provide an update on the marine invasive species Field Missions for their Vital Signs Program, and Jeremy Miller, from the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve will give an overview of the Marine Invasive Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) program, a regional effort that he coordinates in Maine. Jeremy’s presentation will include a field-based demonstration of MIMIC monitoring protocols in the nearby intertidal area.

Plenary Session II: Private Property, Public Rights: Ownership and Public Use of the Maine Coast

Session Notes (PDF)

Introduction: Paul Dest, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (Presentation available)

Shorelines and public rights—background on Maine law: John Duff, University of Massachusetts, Boston (Presentation available)
Maine law regarding public rights to the shoreline includes The Public Trust Doctrine, the effects of the Moody Beach (Bell) Case and the Wells Beach (Eaton) Case, recent Court decisions (McGarvey) and what they mean for private ownership and public rights in the intertidal area. What, if anything can these cases tell us about how the legal perspective on the Law Court has changed over the past 25 years and where it might go in the future?

Goose Rocks Beach— negotiating a settlement agreement: Larry Mead, Town of Kennebunkport (Presentation available)
Seasonal and year-round residents, beach-users, and backlot and beachfront owners provide different legal perspectives on the effects of beach-rights litigation on a coastal community. The Town of Kennebunkport negotiated a beach use agreement covering more than half of a two-mile stretch of Goose Rocks Beach and prevailed in Maine’s most recent beach-rights lawsuit establishing public recreational use to the remainder of the beach. The negotiated settlement agreement is unique in Maine. It illustrates a multi-faceted approach to balancing the needs of beachfront landowners and beach users and the regulatory role of a municipality. The Goose Rocks Beach court decision serves as Maine’s most recent judicial pronouncement regarding beach rights in Maine. The decision is currently being appealed.

Goose Rocks Beach—legal perspectives: Ben Leoni, Curtis Thaxter Attorneys at Law and Amy Tchao, Drummond Woodsum Law Firm (Presentation available)

2013 Partners and *Sponsors:

Catalysis Adaptation Partners
Maine Beaches Association
Maine Coastal Program *
Maine Department of Environmental Protection
Maine Geological Survey *
Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund *
Maine Sea Grant *
Ogunquit Conservation Commission *
Southern Maine Community College **
Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission *
Surfrider Northern New England *
University of Maine Cooperative Extension *
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve *
Walsh Engineering Associates*
and Coastal Property Owners from Kennebunkport, Ogunquit, & Scarborough

2013 Conference Steering Committee Members:

Jake Aman
Iver Carlsen
Annie Cox
Steve Dickson
Paige Farmer
Kristen Grant (conference coordinator)
Chris Hoffman
Mike Horn
Kathleen Leyden
Keri Kaczor
Tom Long
JT Lockman (chair)
Marybeth Richardson
Catherine Schmitt
Nancy Veihmann (vice chair)
Bill Walsh