Sam Evans-Brown

Environment and Education Reporter

 

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for  New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. His work has won several local broadcast journalism awards, and he was a 2013 Steinbrenner Institute Environmental Media Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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Steve and Michelle Gerdes / Flicker CC

The biggest residential solar company in the country is coming to New Hampshire.

SolarCity, which in 2014 installed 40 percent solar panels nation-wide, and is the fastest growing solar company in the nation. Their sales have doubled every year since 2010, to the point where last year they installed solar panels on 100,000 homes.

But that’s likely not why you may have heard of them.

“It started 7 years ago, two brothers, Pete and Lyden Rive, who yes are first cousins with Elon Musk,” says Lee Keshishian, SolarCity’s vice president of east coast operations.

Anthony Auston / Flicker CC

New England governors and policy staff met in Connecticut Thursday to discuss energy. The meeting didn’t produce any block-buster announcements, but in a joint statement the New England governors have pledged to work toward the goal of reducing the cost of energy.

Taylor Quimby / NHPR

After a long and frigid winter, the sound of spring peepers singing from beaver bogs is a welcome one for New Englanders. But before frogs can start their songs spring, a massive migration has to take place. On a handful of spring nights, millions of amphibians mobilize all at once.

Aaron Plewke via Flickr CC

On a stage in Newbury, in front of an expectant audience, state officials carried out what looked like a standard meeting of the Mount Sunapee Advisory Committee. But, the audience of more than fifty people was gathered to find out whether Mt Sunapee’s West Bowl expansion would be allowed to go forward.

What they heard is that after more than a decade, the state has proposed granting permission to expand the Mt Sunapee Ski Area with a new chairlift, six new trails, a new parking lot and lodge.

But the approval carried conditions.

Dave Crosby via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/cfGUQb

How do we know how many fish there are in the sea? How many birds there are in the trees?

When biologists come to us with the estimated number of bison on the Great Plains, it’s easy to imagine where that estimate comes from, but what about the number of newts in the forest?

Avital Pinnick / Flicker CC

During Passover, it's best to stock up on matzah early, especially in a state like New Hampshire.

"Jews don't move to New Hampshire for the Jewish community, we move here for other reasons," says rabbi Robin Nafshi of the Temple Beth Jacob in Concord, "the Jewish population of New Hampshire is fairly small."

There was a Stop and Shop in Bedford that used to accommodate kosher shoppers, "It was unbelievable, there was almost two aisles of food for passover," says Katy Gibny from Goffstown. But that store has closed, which has turned Gibni's family to "hunter gatherers."

Moiggi Interactive / Flicker CC

New Hampshire is one of 13 states that allows baiting to hunt bears. But last fall four bears died suddenly in the town of Stark after eating chocolate at a bait site, and now the Fish and Game Commission is considering banning the use of chocolate as bear bait.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

While in the Manchester school district, hundreds of parents are pulling their children out of the state’s new standardized test, the Smarter Balanced, four districts are trying something new. The Rochester, Sanborn, and Epping school districts along with Souhegan high school have recently received permission to design and implement their own assessments.

Think back to the standardized tests you did when you were in high school. Did you ever get a math question like this?

US Fish and Wildlife Service

A New Hampshire bat species is now on the threatened list under the Federal Endangered Species Act. The Northern Long-Eared Bat is one of several species that has been devastated by the invasive fungus, white-nose syndrome.

northeast naturalist via Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire Fish and Game is working on a new plan for how many deer, turkey, bear and moose hunters will be allowed to shoot between now and 2025. For moose-hunters in some parts of the state, that number may soon be zero.

Fish and Game is considering regional population thresholds, where if moose herd continues to decline it will call a moratorium on the moose hunt.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Eversource Energy and the Northern Pass Transmission project have announced a large donation to support conservation projects in New Hampshire. The $3 million donated by Eversource will be given to local conservation projects through grants administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).

“That’s a huge donation. It represents our largest New England corporate donation in the history of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,” said David O’Neil, vice president of NFWF.

Ben Hudson via Society for Protection of NH Forests

Last week, 12 deer were found dead in South Hampton. On Tuesday New Hampshire Fish and Game announced the cause of those deaths: feeding by humans.

Dan Bergeron is a deer project leader with New Hampshire Fish and Game. He joined All Things Considered with more on what happened.

 What were these deer fed, and why was that bad for them?

Last week, New Hampshire's third through eighth graders and one high school grade began taking a new standardized test: the Smarter Balanced.

Sunset Power Lines
Michael Kappel/Flickr CC

The first New Hampshire electric utility to file its summer rate change has asked for a 55 percent decrease. The request reflects low demand for natural gas during the summer months.

Months ago, Liberty was the first New Hampshire utility to seek a dramatically higher winter rate: jumping from 7.7 cents per kilowatt hour to more than 15 cents.

Now, as swiftly as electricity prices spiked in the fall, they are set to plummet even more this spring, down to 6.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

NH Employment Security

Unemployment in New Hamsphire fell to below 4 percent last month. According to New Hampshire Employment security, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 3.9 percent.

This brings the number of New Hampshire residents who have a job to 714,840, while only 29,270 are unemployed.

The unemployment rate has been declining steadily since 2010, when it peaked at 6.7 percent.

In a statement governor Maggie Hassan praised the news, calling the announcement “another encouraging sign that our economy continues to strengthen.”

Via Central High School Community on Facebook

Students attending at least three New Hampshire Schools took the wrong version of the new Smarter Balanced standardized test, due to a labeling error in the vendor’s software.

On Monday, students at three Manchester schools – Central High School, Beech Street School, and McDonough Elementary School – gave a practice test instead of the real thing. The tests administered were for the proper grade level.

NYC Department of Technology / Flicker CC

Schools in New Hampshire started to administer a brand new standardized test Monday.

Ever since 2005, students all over New England have taken a standardized-test called the NECAP in 3rd through 8th grade and once more in high school, but this year the pencil-and-paper NECAP was replaced with an online test, the Smarter Balanced.

The Smarter Balanced is “adaptive,” meaning the questions get harder or easier depending on which questions the student gets correct.

Flkr Creative Commons / PSNH

In a deal that is being called historic, Eversource Energy, formerly Public Service of New Hampshire, has agreed to sell its power plants. The agreement is part of what’s been called a “global settlement,” which resolves a variety of issues facing the utility all in one neat package.

The parties to the settlement say it is a win-win for the state and the company.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Think about the shape of an icicle: it’s pointy at the end and wider at the base. But why are they that shape? The key thing to remember when talking about icicles is that icicles are long and skinny because the tip is growing faster than the base. And there are 3 reasons for why that is:

Every drip, as it travels down the icicle, carries heat away. This is because water is an incredible vehicle for conducting heat. It has the highest specific heat of any material we know of. 

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Charter school advocates are hopeful this could be the year the legislature passes a bill aimed at increasing their funding.

Dozens of charter school students packed the halls of the New Hampshire State House, Wednesday, to push for a bill that would increase state funding for charters by more than $2 million dollars per year.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Many towns across the Southern border of the state took votes in opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline that would be built through 17 towns.

At least 8 of those towns were considering Non-binding resolutions against the pipeline, which serve to signal to state energy regulators that residents don’t want a project come through their town. Others, like Ringe and Winchester opted to deny representatives of Pipeline Developer Kinder-Morgan the right to survey town property. 

Adam Gessaman via Flickr CC

A Canadian company has purchased a New Hampshire pork products producer, but the company says the sale shouldn’t affect the 35 jobs at its facility in Claremont.

Bacon makes up 80 percent of North Country Smokehouse’s business, but it also puts out some sausage, ham, and smoked cheeses. According to the company’s president, Mike Satzow, it gets much of their pork from a Canadian company that’s buying them, Les Spécialités Prodal.

“They are the largest producers of organic and natural pork on the continent,” says Satzow.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Every community has an issue which an outsider might look at and say, ‘That? You’re fighting about that?’

In Gilmanton, that’s the Year-Round Library.

The library is a private non-profit, but is open to the public. It’s in a gorgeous refurbished timber-frame barn; two stories tall with old rough-hewn beams surrounded by a modern shell. It was built through private fundraising, and fundraising helps pay operating costs too.  

Chris Jensen / NHPR

EDP renewables, a company based in Portugal that operates 3,600 Megawatts of wind power in the US, has proposed a 29-turbine wind farm for five towns in the Newfound region. So for many in that area town meeting season is an opportunity to express their opposition to wind farms.

But how? Strategies vary. While some in those towns are sticking to more traditional forms of opposition, others are using town meeting to declare themselves ready to employ civil disobedience to stop the project.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Kale Poland does ultra-marathons, the name is a little misleading, as it now encompasses a lot of really long races of every sort, including triathlons. You may have heard of the Ironman competition: 2.5 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon. 

But not for Kale Poland. He has done many 50-mile running races, of course, also a few double-ironman races, even triple and quintuple ironman distance events. But in 2012, he was the seventh American ever to complete what he calls a “deca”. That’s ten times the distance of an Ironman.

usdagov via Flickr CC

New Hampshire students will take a new standardized test this spring, called the Smarter Balanced. Early indications are the test will be substantially more difficult, and school teachers and administrators are anxious, and some – like Manchester – have been looking for an out, only to find there is not much wiggle room.

Mickki via Flickr Creative Commons

Lawmakers today will hear a proposal to allow the commercial composting of meat and dairy. The bill began with a group headed by a former UNH student.

The Post Landfill Action Network, or PLAN, got its start as a sort of student-run rummage sale, where students were encouraged to sell furniture and other items, rather than throw them out when they leave campus each year.

PLANs founder, Alex Fried, has since gone professional with his advocacy, starting a small non-profit.

One of their current projects is pushing to make UNH’s football stadium a zero-waste facility.

ISO New England

  This fall, energy industry watchers were predicting that a cold-winter in New England would lead to high natural gas and electricity prices.

But despite record-breaking cold, energy prices have – thus far – remained in check this winter.

Last winter, the whole-sale price for electricity – that’s the price utilities and electricity supply companies pay – spiked to unprecedented heights.

Courtesy Kaitlyn Coogan / Keene Sentinel

Keene State College will reimburse the city of Keene for police over-time incurred during last fall’s Pumpkin Fest riots.

The bill for the police response to rioters during the Pumpkin fest was $90,000 dollars. The festival’s organizers, Let It Shine Inc, has already paid $59,000, but said that it should not be responsible for the whole bill. Keene State announced Let It Shine will make another payment and then the college will cover whatever remains.

Jim Graham / Flicker CC

The headline of this year’s graduation report from the National Student Clearinghouse is that 78 percent of students who start out in traditional 4-year public institutions in New Hampshire wind up graduating within six years.

That’s higher than any state in the country except for Iowa.

Private schools do nearly as well, with 75 percent graduating.

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