FARMINGTON — The impacts of climate change on the town was the focus of a recent presentation by University of Maine at Farmington students to the Board of Selectmen.

After studying the potential for impacts in areas such as agriculture, wildlife, tourism, health and the economy, students from the UMF Climate Change and Society class made suggestions for a Farmington Climate Adaptation Plan.

The work of the approximately 25 students will be compiled and given to the town this summer by instructor Lucas Kellett, UMF sustainability coordinator and anthropology lecturer.

The university received an environmental education sub-grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide six courses involving water resources and climate change, Kellett told the board.

Based on a University of Maine report, Maine’s Climate Future, released in 2009 and an adaptive plan for the state in 2010, the results indicate climate change is gaining, Kellett said.

Climate change, measured in long-term spans such as averages over 30 years, includes higher temperatures, warmer ocean waters, more precipitation and volatile storms. This creates a need to focus on mitigation or reducing changes and adaptation or deciding strategies to prepare the community for changes, he said.

The state report predicts Maine will see temperature increases of 3 to 10 percent on the Fahrenheit scale and 2 to 15 percent more precipitation, he said.

Change may not necessarily be a bad thing, he said.

Students talked about potential changes and challenges, and gave suggestions for ways to adapt to the changes.

For the Western Mountains of Maine, an area rich in wildlife, higher temperatures may mean a loss of animals such as deer, moose and cold-water fish.

A short growing season may be lengthened, providing the opportunity to grow new fruits and vegetables not commonly grown here.

The greater growth of forests and crops could potentially grow the biomass industry, create more jobs and boost the economy, the students said.

On the other hand, the longer, warmer seasons may mean an increase in ticks and more invasive pests and plants.

The potential impact for a warmer and wetter climate, a longer summer and a shorter winter will affect the local economy and tourism, the students said.

They foresee a shift from winter recreation opportunities to summer recreation or less snowmobiling and more ATV use.

The negative impact of shorter winters with less snow and more rain will impact the local ski industry. There’s a potential for fewer winter visitors and more costs for snowmaking.

Changes could mean more potential for flooding and damage to local roads. The students suggested more public transportation be created and commuting encouraged.

Another group suggested planning for residents during potential local emergencies, including use of a closed dormitory at UMF for shelter.

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