Beal's Downeast Institute to start $5 million expansion
Having secured about $5 million in funding for the project, the University of Maine System announced Friday that it is moving ahead with a major expansion of a local applied marine research and education facility.
Work on adding 8,500 square feet of added laboratory space, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades, is expected to get underway this summer, Dianne Tilton, executive director of Downeast Institute, said Thursday.
The project also will include short-term housing for visiting scientists and students, a small visitors center and office space.
Downeast Institute functions as the marine field research station for UMaine at Machias. Founded in 1987 by UMaine at Machias professor Brian Beal, in collaboration with area towns and clam harvesters, Downeast Institute started out as a softshell clam hatchery but has expanded its scope over the years to include research at various time on other clam species, European oysters, mussels, scallops and lobster. The institute also produces algae as a food source for its study subjects and has studied ways to limit the effects of green crabs, an invasive species that eats softshell clams.