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Healthy birds and healthy beaches

I was pleased to see that this summer’s record number of piping plovers was posted in the Bangor Daily News in Fred Bever’s June 16 article from Maine Public, and wanted to remind Mainers that when we protect the piping plover, it’s not just the plovers we protect.

Protecting a federally threatened species such as piping plovers means not only protecting the birds themselves, but also safeguarding the habitat they need. Healthy beaches for plovers, in turn, benefit a suite of other species, including human visitors.

Maine beaches in summer can be a great place for people to relax, but for plants and animals beaches are a challenging place with extreme sun, wind, salt and dry conditions. Species that endure these conditions like plovers and least terns need healthy beaches to raise young. Protecting plovers protects terns as well; least terns in Maine have risen from about 50 pairs in the early 1980s to more than 200 pairs for most of the last decade.

We also protect plants that are found in a few other places in Maine, such as dune heather, coast-blite goosefoot and others. Healthy beaches are more than sand and water, and when they are allowed to thrive, beaches in turn are more resistant to storm damage and can be enjoyed by Mainers and tourists alike.

The Endangered Species Act may seem like a targeted approach for few species, but its implementation has much broader benefits for Maine’s biodiversity and anyone who enjoys Maine’s spectacular beaches.

Laura Zitske


Maine Audubon’s Coastal Birds Project


Collins there for veterans

Having served nearly 30 years in the United States Air Force and Maine Air National Guard, I would like to personally thank Sen. Susan Collins for introducing the bipartisan  VA Provider Accountability Act. This bill is the direct result of a 2019 report that found that action was needed to ensure that health care providers for our veterans have the qualifications and abilities to deliver quality care.

It is shocking and appalling to hear that our veterans may be receiving subpar care through medical providers employed by the VA system. Those who selflessly spend their careers putting themselves in harm’s way to protect our rights and freedoms deserve nothing short of the very best, which is why Collins’ bill is so important.

The report that inspired this legislation found that the VA has failed to report medical providers who have made grave medical errors, including a podiatrist at Togus who allegedly inflicted harm 88 times to Maine veterans, without being held accountable. This practitioner was able to resign quietly and continue practicing.

Folks, we have to do better. Collins’ bill is common sense, and it will put us on the path towards accountability and quality care for our veterans.

Sen. Brad Farrin


Nuclear freeze

I don’t know if nuclear first strike capability is possible. We need to determine if an arms race with Russia could lead to our annihilation; if so, we need to have both countries agree to a freeze on new nuclear weapons.  

There should of course be immediate inspection of any suspected nuclear weapon sites. If Russia doesn’t agree to this — and if any diplomatic gesture such as inviting them to join NATO doesn’t work — we need to have tougher sanctions than we do at present.

Alvin Blake