Freeport, Jun 28 (AP/UNB) — Changes to the Maine lobster fishery designed to help a critically endangered species of whale might arrive in 2021 after a lengthy rulemaking process.
A team assembled by the federal government has called for the removal of half the vertical trap lines from the Gulf of Maine to reduce risk to North Atlantic right whales. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has been meeting with lobstermen around the state to begin the process of crafting rules to achieve that goal.
The state held the last of several meetings with lobstermen about the new rules on Thursday in Freeport. Hundreds of members of the state's lifeblood industry have attended the meetings.
Maine hopes to present a plan to the federal government by September, department spokesman Jeff Nichols said before the meeting. The industry is getting ready to grapple with the task of getting so much gear out of the water, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association.
"There's definitely concern among lobstermen because they will be changing how they fish," she said. "It's not a simple task, but once guys are thinking it through and making changes, there seems to be viable strategies for each person."
The U.S. lobstering industry, based mostly in Maine, has coexisted for centuries with right whales, which were driven close to extinction during the commercial whaling era.
The last count of right whales ended with a best estimate of 411 animals in 2017, and signs are troubling. The species has been hampered by low reproductive rates in recent years, and six of them have been found dead in Canadian waters so far in 2019. The Canadian government announced the most recent discovery of a dead right whale on Thursday.
Scientists have said the whales are vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, as well as other threats such as ship strikes.
Conservationists have been keeping a close eye on the process to better protect whales. Waiting until 2021 to implement rules could be too long for a species that is declining in population, said Erica Fuller, an attorney with Conservation Law Foundation.
"We're dealing with a crisis right now, and we need to treat it like one," Fuller said.
Maine's lobster fishery has had several strong years this decade, but the new push to protect whales is one of multiple stressors it is contending with. The fishery is also dealing with concerns about a lack of bait. Despite the challenges, the seafood has remained readily available to consumers, and prices have been competitive in retail markets.
The state plans to hold more meetings with members of the fishery in August. Public hearings will likely be held after the state sends its plan to reduce trap lines to the state in September.
Portland, Jun 27 (AP/UNB) — The divide in Oregon between the state's liberal cities and its conservative and economically depressed rural areas has made it fertile ground for the political crisis unfolding over a push by Democrats to enact sweeping climate legislation.
Eleven Republican senators were in the seventh day of a walkout Wednesday to deny the supermajority Democrats the number of lawmakers needed to vote on a cap and trade bill, which would be the second of its kind in the U.S. The stalemate has drawn international attention, in part because right-wing militias have rallied to the GOP cause.
One Republican lawmaker said state troopers dispatched to hunt down the striking lawmakers should "come heavily armed" if they want to bring him back to the Capitol.
"This is not the Oregon way and cannot be rewarded," Democratic Gov. Kate Brown said. "The Republicans are driving us away from the values that Oregonians hold dear, and are moving us dangerously close to the self-serving stalemate in Washington, D.C."
Experts say the standoff was inevitable given the state's political makeup.
Oregon has a national reputation as a liberal bastion best known for its craft beer, doughnuts and award-winning wine. But while its cities lean left, about 40% of residents — mostly those in rural areas — consistently vote Republican, said Priscilla Southwell, a University of Oregon professor who wrote "Governing Oregon."
"The reality is that it is a much more divided state than people realize," she said. "It's kind of like a perfect storm for this kind of thing to happen."
That political divide also translates to an economic chasm for many. As Portland has boomed, huge swaths of the state have been left without enough money to keep libraries open or fully staff sheriff's departments.
Logging, which once thrived, has been significantly reduced because of environmental restrictions and a changing global economy. Rural voters worry the climate legislation would be the end for logging and trucking.
"It's going to ruin so many lives, it's going to put so many people out of work," said Bridger Hasbrouck, a self-employed logger from Dallas, Oregon. "If the guys that I'm cutting for can't afford to run their logging companies, then I have to figure out something different."
The proposal would dramatically reduce greenhouse gases over 30 years by capping carbon emissions and requiring businesses to buy or trade from an ever-dwindling pool of pollution "allowances."
Democrats say the legislation is critical to make Oregon a leader in the fight against climate change and will ultimately create jobs and transform the economy.
Republicans say it will kill jobs, raise the cost of fuel and other goods and gut small businesses. They also say they've been left out of policy negotiations, an assertion the governor called "hogwash."
Yet that sense of rural alienation gives right-wing groups such as the Oregon Three Percenters a way into the conversation by portraying the climate bill as a stand-in for a number of concerns held by rural, conservative voters nationally, said Chris Shortell, chairman of Portland State University's political science department.
"It highlights the ways in which local politics have become nationalized," he said. "It's not just about the climate change bill in Oregon. Now it's about, 'Are Democrats legitimate in acting this way?'"
Some worry the climate standoff could put Oregon back in the crosshairs of an anti-government movement that in 2016 used the federal prosecution of two ranchers to mobilize an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. One militia member was killed and another injured in a weekslong standoff protesting the U.S. government's management of vast swaths of the American West.
In the current standoff, one militia group offered safe passage to the GOP senators and the Capitol shut down last Saturday because of what police called a credible "militia threat."
Right-wing and nationalist groups have been increasingly visible in Oregon over the past five years as rural voters get more disillusioned, said Eric Ward, executive director of the Portland-based Western States Center.
"In frustration, there are organizations and individuals who have stepped into a leadership gap and are attempting to provide parallel leadership," he said. "But that leadership is led by ... bigotry and threats of violence."
For more than 50 years, the rural U.S. West has undergone tremendous change as federal protections for forests and endangered species reshaped residents' relationship with the land, said Patty Limerick, faculty director at the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
"Sometimes a historical shakeup takes a couple of decades for people to adjust, and sometimes it takes a couple of centuries," Limerick said. "I think we ought to understand that this is a really different world from 50 years ago — and no wonder that some people feel that it's time for acts of desperation and dramatically staged opposition."
For now, it's unclear how that drama will play out. The Senate president said Tuesday that the Democrats no longer have the votes needed to pass the bill even if Republicans were to return, but the GOP still stayed away.
New York, June 25 (AP/UNB) - All-green gardens are becoming popular again as the centerpieces of monochromatic landscaping. The designs are appealing and restive, driven as they are by massed ferns, moss, leaves, bark, berries, rock and foliage combinations. They serve some practical purposes, too.
“Cool, mossy and damp, small space woodland gardens bring a welcome sense of organic Zen and a respite from digital overload, especially in dense urban areas where they can help to mitigate the effects of pollution,” said Elka Karl, a spokeswoman for Monrovia Nursery Co., based in Azuza, California.
“It’s like bringing ‘forest bathing’ to the city with mixes of ferns, mosses, coral bells, hostas and anemones in high-contrast, almost unnatural places for a garden style that’s gaining ground,” Karl said.
She said the company has seen a marked increase in consumer demand for all types of woodland plants over the last three years.
One of the best attributes of plants with green foliage is that they’re the chameleons of the garden, said Kate Karam, Monrovia’s editorial director.
“A holly, for example, can be left to grow into its natural form for a more woodland look or can be sheared into a tight shape suitable for a formal garden,” Karam said.
Green gardens don’t have to be exclusively green, although foliage dominates.
“Even the greenest of green gardens will likely have something that flowers, such as plants that bloom but are chosen for the foliage,” Karam said. “Grasses, spurges and hostas are good examples. Yes, they flower, but most of us don’t really grow them for that benefit.”
There aren’t many “green flowers” in nature, but varieties like Nicotiana langsdorffii, euphorbia and Green Envy zinnia, among others, can be layered into the foliage, said Karen Chapman, a garden designer and co-author, with Christina Salwitz, of “Gardening With Foliage First” (Timber Press, 2017).
Chapman said the monochromatic palette “can be adapted to create a richly textured, shaded woodland border with a framework of Japanese maples, feathery ferns and bold hosta, or a more traditional design of clipped boxwood hedges and architectural conifers.”
People today are often pinched for time and less able to tend flower gardens, Monrovia’s Karam said.
“They turn to hardworking evergreen or seasonally green plants, especially hedges and shrubs, to give the biggest bang and the longest show,” she said. “Plants like conifers, boxwoods, grasses, laurels, hollies, ferns, rhododendrons, drimys, aralia, green-leafed Japanese maples are some of our best sellers.”
When designing all-green gardens, consider a blend of texture, form and coloration.
Foliage varies in texture from rough to smooth, glossy to lusterless. Shapes and sizes range from plants with huge round leaves to grasses with long feathery blades.
Seek complementary colors. Japanese painted ferns, for example, display attractive blue-green fronds with contrasting deep red ribs and silver edging.
“I would say the benefit for many homeowners would be the opportunity to create an urban oasis; a meditative space where the distractions of life are minimized and one can quietly re-focus,” Chapman said. “An all-green-garden would be an excellent environment in which to practice yoga or mindfulness.”
Pascagoula, Jun 25 (AP/UNB) — A historical marker has been placed near the river where two men in southern Mississippi said they were abducted by aliens in 1973.
News outlets report the city of Pascagoula dedicated the marker Saturday at Lighthouse Park.
Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker said they were on the shores of the Pascagoula River when what appeared to be aliens pulled them onboard a UFO, examined them for about 30 minutes and then returned them to Earth.
Both reported the event to the sheriff’s department and were checked out at a hospital after it happened Oct. 11, 1973. The story has become known worldwide.
Parker published a book about the experience in 2018. Hickson died in 2011. Both said many people doubted their story. A few witnesses have come forward to corroborate some details.
Flagstaff, Jun 25 (AP/UNB) — A recently adopted puppy that disappeared after her owner crashed in Arizona survived 13 days in the mountains and has been reunited with her owner.
The Arizona Daily Sun reports volunteers found Bella, a 4-month-old mixed yellow lab, almost two weeks after driver Michael Crocker rolled over his SUV off the historic Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Crocker was airlifted to a hospital in Phoenix after crashing his GMC Yukon Denali on May 14 but Bella was nowhere to be found. Cocker and Bella were on a cross-country trip from Alabama to Southern California.
A Humane Animal Rescue and Trapping Team member found the whimpering pup not too far from the crash site of broken glass and car parts.
Officials say Crocker and Bella are recovering together in Southern California.