Saco River Conference April 23 Addresses Conservation Challenges

The Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District (OCSWCD) is pleased to announce a first-of-its-kind conference, on April 23, which brings together experts from two states – Maine and New Hampshire – to discuss the many conservation challenges facing the river and its watershed. The day-long conference will be held at the Leura Eastman Performing Arts Center on the campus of Fryeburg Academy.
OCSWCD is sponsoring the event. Co-sponsors include the Carroll County Conservation District in New Hampshire, the University of New England, Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, Maine Association of Conservation Districts, and Norway Savings Bank. Advance registration costs $30 for non-students, $15 for students. For those registering after April 20 registration is $35 for non-students, $20 for students.
The Saco River Watershed faces many conservation challenges. A partial list includes mitigating the impact of flooding, protecting water quality, preventing river bank erosion, and enhancing fisheries. At the same time, the Saco River is prized for outstanding recreational opportunities. It is home to rare ecosystems and plant and animal species. Protecting the watershed’s unique assets into the future presents a huge challenge to planners, state and municipal officials, and residents. This conference aims to start that dialogue.
Topics range from fisheries, tourism and invasive species (terrestrial and aquatic) to discussions about conservation easements, public education, recreation, and restoring native sea-run fish populations. The final session of the day is titled “Where do we go from here?” and will, with audience participation, explore strategies, such as developing a two-state working group, to begin addressing issues that affect the watershed on both sides of the state line.

On April 23, the day of the conference, registration begins at 7:45 a.m. After brief introductory remarks by the conference coordinator at 8:30 a.m., the keynote address starts at 8:40 a.m. and will be delivered by Christine Feurt, Ph.D. of the University of New England. The title of her presentation is “Sustaining the Saco – The power of collaboration from the headwaters to the sea.” The morning features concurrent breakout sessions, while there will be combined sessions in the afternoon. Throughout the day, there will be breaks for networking. Lunch will be served at the Fryeburg Academy dining hall which is a short walk from the performing arts center. The conference ends about 3:40 p.m.
For more information about the conference, the full agenda, and to register online go to the OCSWCD website: http://www.oxfordcountyswcd.org. Alternately, registration forms can be downloaded from the website and mailed with registration fees by check payable to: Oxford County SWCD, 17 Olson Rd., South Paris, ME 04281. Maine Code Enforcement Officers are eligible for 1 contact hour in Land Use or Shoreland Zoning offered by the Maine Departments of Economic and Community Development and Environmental Protection. Foresters are eligible for 3.5 category 1 CFE credits from the Society of American Foresters. For planners, the conference is pending 6.5 AICP CM credits from the American Planning Association.
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For more information:
– Jeff Stern, Watershed Specialist, Fiddlehead Environmental Consulting, email address: sternjm@hotmail.com, telephone: 207-627-3126.
– Michele Windsor, Project Manager, Oxford County Soil & Water Conservation District, email address: michele.windsor@me.nacdnet.net, telephone: (207)743-5789 X101.

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