Environment

New federal science education standards adopted in Vermont require that students learn about climate change. So teachers are starting to create lesson plans with hands-on activities about weather patterns.

Some are getting that training deep in the woods of the Northeast Kingdom.

Forests cover about three-fourths of Vermont’s land making it one of the most heavily forested states in the country. And well over half of those forests are family owned.

Vermont Family Forests Director David Brynn and Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael Snyder discuss the challenges these family forests face, the role they play in our ecosystem, the state's Current Use program and the best practices that can be employed to keep them sustainable.

The clean-up of Lake Champlain looms as perhaps the largest, and most expensive environmental challenge facing Vermont. And state officials are exploring whether a cap-and-trade program for phosphorus runoff might help solve the problem.

Back in the 1990s, the acid rain problem had gotten so bad that some New England lakes couldn’t support brook trout anymore.

Efficiency Vermont might seem like a non-profit that helps you get cheaper, more environmentally friendly light bulbs, but actually, it is a utility. Efficiency Vermont was created by the Public Service Board in 2000 to help Vermonters use less electricity. That savings is the energy Efficiency Vermont, as a utility, produces. It’s about 13% of our total electric consumption.

The groundwater sitting below IBM’s massive campus in Essex Junction still bears the chemical stains of the plant’s past. The company announced this week its selling the plant , but it still bears responsibility for the clean-up.

The offending compound is called TCE – short for tetrachloroethylene – and back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, IBM used it by the truckload. David Mears, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, says TCE turned out to be toxic stuff.

I love October for its crisp air, colorful hillsides blanketed in autumn haze and its almost melancholy sense of endings. But because October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month, it’s also a time for new beginnings – a time when shelters across the country unite to educate the public about the joys of pet rescue and encourage us to save a life while enriching our own.

James Gustave “Gus” Speth grew up in South Carolina blissfully unaware of the racial tension that was roiling around him.

It wasn’t until he went to college “up north” that he saw some of the injustice that he was shielded from as a child.

Though he did do a little work organizing in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Gus Speth has long felt that he didn’t do enough.

Vermont utilities have teamed up with computer scientists and weather experts to develop more precise forecasts of severe storm events. The project was unveiled Wednesday at a meeting of emergency planners in Waterbury. 

Tom Dunn is CEO of the Vermont Electric Power Company, which operates the statewide transmission grid. He says Vermont has seen an increase in the frequency and severity of storm events. Tropical Storm Irene washed away a half mile of power line. "In 2013, the Vermont Electric Co-op and Green Mountain Power spent over $22 million in storm response," he said.

Some people love to hear the howl of the coyote in the wild. Others chill at the sound of it, fearing that their livestock and pets might be at risk.

Having first arrived in Vermont in the 1940s, there are as many as 8,000 Eastern Coyotes in the state.

UVM Professor Jed Murdoch and State Wildlife Biologist Chris Bernier discuss the role coyotes play in our ecosystem and how the state manages the coyote population.

There's a plant that produces a berry you can use to make a lovely, citrusy tea. Intrigued?

It’s sumac.

Now, before you start itching and scratching and thinking of the poisonous variety, please pay close attention. VPR recently had the opportunity to go foraging for a specific edible variety of the plant with Vermont’s self-described Johnny Appleseed of sumac, Stephen Marshall of North Ferrisburgh.

So, what is the difference between the poison sumac and the edible Staghorn sumac?

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