FARMINGTON — A University of Maine at Farmington faculty research group has received a grant of more than $89,000 to continue its study in the Rangeley Lakes Region.
The money comes from the National Science Foundation with assistance from the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
“The goal is to work with people in Rangeley to figure out ways to sustain the region's incredible ecological resources and the livelihood tied to those,” Matthew McCourt, UMF associate professor of geography and this year's team leader, said.
In this fourth year of a five-year study, a core group of six UMF faculty researchers and several student interns are partnering with The Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust and the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum, community advisers, area educators and high school students to explore how understanding and protecting the region’s natural resources will help advance economic development.
“This prestigious National Science Foundation funded project demonstrates the value of bringing together academic, environmental and economic partnerships that can yield long-term benefits and insure the beauty and sustainability of western Maine," Kathryn A. Foster, UMF president, said.
The grant provides for student internships, travel money and summer pay because much of the work is done in the summer, McCourt said. It supports research in the fields of biology, computer science, geology, geography and economics.
Studies include how water quality and land use affect native species and property values, how the effects of climate change are affecting the trout fishing industry and how good sustainability practices work to help protect and sustain the region’s broad outdoor-based tourism economy.
The study also includes Rangeley's winter Snodeo and its economic impact, McCourt said. Rangeley High School students were involved with it last year.
The Rangeley Lakes study is part of the Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative. Its goal is to transform the state’s capacity to address scientific challenges in ways that directly benefit Maine and other regions and increase economic activity and technological innovation while sustaining Maine’s “quality of place.”