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Community Conservation for Vernal Pools

April 26, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Vernal pools in the northeastern US are small, seasonal wetlands that provide critical breeding habitat for amphibians and invertebrates adapted to temporary waters. They are difficult to conserve as their function depends on connections to other wetlands and upland forests.

A team of researchers in Maine joined forces with an array of governmental and private stakeholders to develop an alternative to existing top-down vernal pool regulation. Through creative revision of various resource management tools, they produced a vernal pool conservation mechanism that meets the needs of diverse stakeholders – from developers to ecologists.

A panel of academic and community leaders will describe the unique value of vernal pools, why they are so difficult to protect, and present an innovative way for communities to conserve these valuable resources while accommodating growth in their towns.

Learn how citizen science and engaged research can bridge the gap between science and policy.  This tool (Special Area Management Program or SAMP), currently being piloted in Topsham and Orono, is available to Maine towns as a voluntary mitigation tool that encourages development in growth areas and facilitates conservation of vernal pools in rural zones. Hear from people who developed this tool and their hopes for how it can facilitate ecologically-sensitive land use.

Aram JK Calhoun is Professor Emerita of Wetland Ecology in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology at the University of Maine. Her research focuses on conservation of wetlands with a focus on vernal pool ecosystems. She is particularly interested in conservation of natural resources on private lands and collaborative approaches to wetland conservation through locally-driven initiatives. Dr. Calhoun works with all levels of government on wetland policy and conservation issues.

Jessica Spelke Jansujwicz is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology and a faculty fellow at the George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine. She is also the Assistant Director of Research for Maine Sea Grant. Dr. Jansujwicz’s current research broadly focuses on the human dimensions of natural resources with an interest in stakeholder engagement and transdisciplinary research.

Angela Twitchell is Executive Director of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust which administers the conservation portion of the SAMP program in Topsham.

Rod Melanson is Topsham’s Town Planner and oversees the SAMP program in Topsham.

Elizabeth Hertz is a conservation consultant who helped develop the SAMP while working as a wetlands policy specialist with the State Planning Office.

Jim Howard is a Topsham-based developer who was involved in development of the SAMP tool.



April 26, 2022
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


ME United States


Cathance River Education Alliance
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