PORTLAND

Audubon celebrates 30th annual loon count

Maine Audubon is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its annual loon count.

Next weekend, volunteers will use binoculars at lakes and ponds in Maine to count the number of loons, as they have since 1983, with a goal of protecting loons and their habitat.

All told, more than 900 observers will participate in gathering data for the Maine Audubon and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Susan Gallo, director of the Maine Loon Project, says the number of chicks in the southern half of the state has not changed appreciably since 1983 and that the number actually dropped in recent years. She says this year’s count will determine if it’s the start of a trend.

AUGUSTA

Vanity plates net free entrance at state parks

Maine motorists with vanity license plates that support conservation are getting a thank-you this weekend.

All 48 state parks and historic sites are offering free admission to vehicles bearing “loon” license plates this weekend.

Since the plates became available in 1993, more than $17.5 million in proceeds have gone to support conservation and wildlife efforts.

Parks and Lands Director Will Harris from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says “we hope everybody comes out and has fun.”

The open admission does not apply to Baxter State Park or the Penobscot Narrows Observatory in Prospect.

– From news services