Environment

The wet weather of May and June hasn’t exactly been conducive to outdoor activities – including camping. 

The weather has been taking its toll on business at Vermont State Parks.

Montpelier set a new record for wettest June and most of the state feels like it could be wrung out.

rick020200 / Flickr

Wed 07/03/13 7pm & 12noon If you love thunderstorms, then you've probably loved this summer so far. We'll check in on how all this wet weather is affecting the state. Tell us how it's affecting you: vermontedition@vpr.net.

We'll talk with Bob Paquin, from the USDA Farm Service Agency; Brian Searles , Secretary of the Agency of Transportation; and Jen Butson, from the Department of Tourism and Marketing.

VPR/John Dillon

It’s an hour or so after dawn in the Sterling Forest -- 1,500 acres of mixed northern hardwoods that belongs to the town of Stowe.

The lush woods are crisscrossed with hiking, skiing and mountain bike trails. The forest is also actively managed for timber production. But the morning chorus indicates there’s another beneficiary of this hilly timber lot: songbirds.

PSB Reviews Yankee's Impact On Connecticut River

Jun 26, 2013

State utility regulators heard conflicting evidence this week about Vermont Yankee’s impact on the Connecticut River.

The three-person Public Service Board is reviewing Entergy Vermont Yankee’s request to operate until 2032.

A key issue is Yankee’s impact on the environment and whether hot water released by the nuclear plant harms fish and other river life.

AP/Toby Talbot

Heavy rain is expected in Vermont through Tuesday, and officials are preparing for the possibility of flooding.

Vermont Emergency Management is working with municipalities, emergency responders, and the National Guard to prepare for any problems that could occur during periods of heavy rainfall.

Officials fear that saturated soils and rivers may not be able to absorb the continuing rain. The National Weather Service says no flooding is ‘imminent’.

Lake Champlain is also nearing flood stage, and will likely continue to rise when the rains end.

AP/Jason R. Henske

The Public Service Board has cleared the way for critics of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant to examine the plant’s impact on water quality.

The ruling was a reversal for Entergy Vermont Yankee, which tried to keep water pollution issues out of the ongoing hearings over the nuclear plant’s future.

The PSB this week rejected Entergy’s argument.

The board said it was allowed to independently examine water impacts, even though Yankee must also get a separate permit from the state Agency of Natural Resources.

AP

Gov. Peter Shumlin has asked for a detailed federal environmental review if an oil pipeline than runs through the Northeast Kingdom is reversed to carry tar sands crude.

The governor has written to Secretary of State John Kerry about the issue, since the State Department has jurisdiction over a project that crosses the U.S.-Canada border.

Shumlin’s letter to Kerry asks for a presidential permit for the pipeline and an impact statement to assess the environmental costs of reversing the pipeline.

State agencies are investigating whether a pesticide sprayed for mosquito control caused a fish kill in an Addison County lake earlier this month.

The fish die-off was seen in Fern Lake a few days after trucks applied a chemical in the area to kill adult mosquitoes.

Leicester resident Zachary Saxe has lived near Fern Lake for a decade. He often fishes and swims there, and the first weekend in June his swim was interrupted by the sight and smell of dozens of dead fish. Saxe, who once worked as a wildlife technician, went out to collect samples in plastic bags.

Gov. Peter Shumlin has signed three bills that promote energy efficiency and clean energy for homes, farms and businesses.

The legislation signed Monday creates new financing programs for residential and commercial sectors. It allows the Vermont Economic Development Authority to borrow up to $10 million from the state Treasury to establish the loan programs and a new energy efficiency loan guarantee program.

The bill also provides $6.5 million for residential efficiency loans through a program run by Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

How much is a little brown bat worth? According to Green Mountain Power’s calculation, about $1 million a year.

The utility has asked for a state permit to kill four of the endangered creatures a year at its 21-turbine Lowell wind project. GMP says if it has to follow all the protections needed to spare every bat from getting thrashed by the turbine blades, it would cost the utility $4 million a year in reduced power output.

The town of Monkton has signed an agreement with Vermont Gas Systems that sets out the conditions the company must follow if it’s allowed to build a natural gas pipeline through the community.

Vermont Gas wants to extend its line 41 miles south to Addison County. Some residents in Monkton oppose the project. The town selectboard last week voted to reject a legal agreement – called a memorandum of understanding – between the town and the company.

VPR/John Dillon

Before there were ski areas, before snow cats groomed the slopes and high-speed lifts whisked you uphill, there were people who would climb miles to ski on some of Vermont’s most rugged terrain.

Clem Holden is 90 now, and still skis when he can. Back when he started in the 1930s, the skiing involved a lot of uphill motion.

“We used to start down on Route 2, and we’d ski up to Bolton lodge, and that’s about halfway, and then we’d keep going to Bryant’s camp, and that’s about eight miles from the main road down below,” he said.

Courtesy Of Lyndon State College

When we hear the term “storm chasers”, many of us think of thrill-seeking adventurers who hop in their Jeeps and tear through the Mid-west in search of dramatic storm footage.

But  storm chasing also involves a more measured attempt to collect data and analyze information to help us understand dangerous weather vents.

Dr. Nolan Atkins is a professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Department Chair at Lyndon State College.

He has just returned from central Oklahoma, which is still reeling from two rare EF5 tornadoes, the strongest on the Tornado Velocity scale. 

Solar City

Jun 11, 2013
Toby Talbot / AP

Tues 6/11 at Noon and 7pm When Green Mountain Power merged with Central Vermont Public Service last year, GMP promised to turn Rutland into a ‘solar city.’ The goal is to install at least 6,250 kW of installed solar capacity by 2017.

Fishing season is now in full swing, and that means anglers are all hoping for the same thing: a great catch. Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department is doing their part to facilitate the fun by stocking waters with fish.

Now, thanks to a new app created during an open source "Hackathon" called Code for BTV, the stocking schedule is easily accessible. Using the map, anglers can find out exactly when the waters will be freshly stocked.

VPR/Jane Lindholm

The words keep bobbing in front of my eyes like a mantra: "caution: rattlesnake. Caution: rattlesnake."

They’re actually written in big red letters on the side of a white plastic bucket being carried up a wooded hillside by a Vermont Fish and Wildlife staffer directly ahead of me. And there is, in fact, a rattlesnake in that tightly sealed container.

The other words that keep revolving in my mind are the ones Fish and Wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett mentioned as we started our hike. “I’m sure we won’t have any problems,” he said. “But…”

VPR/Ric Cengeri

Vermont shares two large lakes with Quebec. And while the focus of the health of Lake Champlain has long been a major area of concern, there is a group who has spent years worrying about the well being of Lake Memphremagog.

Memphremagog Conservation has been patrolling the lake for 46 years. The non-profit organization has 1,200 members, a volunteer board and three paid patrollers who spend the summer on the lake.

Catherine Roy is a member of the organization. She spoke with VPR about their work and the findings.

Mosquito Season Heats Up

Jun 6, 2013

Thanks to recent warm, wet weather - mosquitos are out in force.  That has many in towns around Brandon concerned - because that’s where the mosquito born Triple E virus killed two people last year.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or Triple E, and West Nile are both rare and potentially deadly viruses.  Both illnesses are also initially carried by birds but spread to humans by mosquitos who feed on both.

VPR/Susan Keese

A popular southern Vermont swimming spot is expected to reopen this summer for the first time since Tropical Storm Irene.

Townshend Lake was declared off-limits to swimmers last season because of large quantities of silt deposited by the August, 2011, storm. Officials said the soft sediment posed a safety hazard and reduced the lake’s depth to a few feet.

But the Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the swimming area, plans to have it dredged within the next few weeks.

Wed 6/05/13 Noon & 7 pm Three years ago, NeighborWorks of Western Vermont won a $4.5 million dollar grant as a part of the Federal stimulus package. They promised to improve the energy efficiency of 40 percent of the homes in Rutland County. Energy efficiency was one of the Governor's big goals in his budget this year too, but his plan for funding retrofits never made it through the legislature.

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