Barry Spofford, Bangor Public Works, moves leaves to open drainage and relieve flooding on Broadway at Broadway Park in Bangor in October 2019. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

If you’ve been reading the news, you know that Maine is facing urgent environmental issues that stand to change our way of life.  

How we eat and drink, farm, build and heat our homes, how we drive our cars, how we earn a living all hinge on how Maine handles extreme weather, PFAS contamination, pressures on our energy grid and a quickly changing marine economy. (To name a few.) Every one of these issues is deeply connected to Maine’s environment, and affects the health of communities across the state. That’s why we are thrilled to partner with Report for America and the Unity Foundation to strengthen the Bangor Daily News’ environmental coverage.

Mehr Sher has been hired by the Bangor Daily News as an environment reporter. Credit: Contributed

We’ve added a talented Report for America corps member, reporter Mehr Sher, to the Maine Focus team, and she is working closely with investigative editor Erin Rhoda to examine how the climate crisis is impacting communities and industries across the state. In just the last month, Maine Focus reporting has brought to light hopeful innovations in PFAS removal, implications of the drought in different regions of the state, and the extent to which Maine bottled water companies are testing their product for PFAS. And we’re just getting started.

“The environment beat is a critical and expansive one. The topic touches the lives of every person in Maine, whether it’s through the quality of the water they drink, the air they breathe, or the food they eat,” Maine Focus editor Erin Rhoda said. “It crosses health, business, agriculture and government, and the work often requires distilling complicated and complex research and regulatory matters into understandable stories. These stories make a difference in the lives of everyday people and shape discussion about policy at the state level.”

Erin Rhoda Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

Your support will make this local journalism beat sustainable for years to come, bringing Mainers nonpartisan information that’s needed to make informed decisions for their families and communities.

The BDN newsroom is half the size of what it was in 2002. The societal shift to digital content and social media over the last two decades, combined with the business practices of massive technology companies that consolidate control of digital audiences and advertising, have created an environment in which subscriptions and advertising — the traditional financial support structure for local news — are now insufficient to support the local reporting communities need. Despite all this, the BDN has fared better than many local newspapers because we have made bold decisions, remained independent and been financially conservative.

This new position is our first step in reinvesting in reporting positions we’ve lost over the last 20 years. Our newsroom is committed to strengthening communities across the state through dogged accountability reporting and community journalism.

This environmental beat is made possible through a partnership with lead Maine sponsor, the Unity Foundation.

 “The Unity Foundation decided to be a founding partner with the BDN in support of this new environmental reporting position because we believe having trusted, well-reported information provided by professional journalists about the environmental challenges we face as a state – especially those challenges introduced by our changing climate – is critical to our ability to make good decisions, both at a policy level and a community level,” Unity Foundation CEO Larry Sterrs said.  “Rural communities are losing local journalism all across the country, and it’s important to us to work against that threat.”

The Unity Foundation’s grant is matched in the first year by Report for America. Today we invite you to join us in making this a multiyear investment for Maine. This month’s fundraising goal of $15,000 will help us sustain this critical reporting position in 2023 and beyond.

Will you make a $50 donation to ensure continued in-depth and investigative environmental reporting in the Bangor Daily News? Please consider donating now.

To make a tax deductible contribution, please reach out to me at

If you’d prefer to make a contribution by check, please send your donation to:

Bangor Daily News – environmental reporting support
1 Merchants Plaza
P.O. Box 1329
Bangor, ME, 04402

With your support, our independent newsroom will grow and continue to serve Maine communities for decades to come.

Your donation, in any amount, can help sustain environment reporting at the BDN. Learn more about why we are asking for reader support.