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.

Follow Sam's tweets about the environment, education news, and everything else he's tracking.


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Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

With lawmakers now in the final phase of crafting the state budget for the next two years, schools around the state are watching the process uneasily. The Legislature is looking, once again, to tweak the formula it uses to send money to local districts. 

biblioholic / Flicker CC

The two biggest school districts in the state have not met the federal benchmarks set for participation in a controversial state-wide standardized test, known as the Smarter Balanced.

Sam Scherf / Flicker CC

  Just slightly more than a month after the nation’s biggest solar company moved into the New Hampshire market, another major renewable energy firm has followed suit.

Sunrun solar, a pioneer in the booming practice of leasing solar panels to home-owners announced it will offer its products to Southeastern New Hampshire starting this week.

However, it’s not the abundant sunshine that’s attracting these companies, it's likely has more to do with high electricity prices.

Opponents and supporters of the proposed expansion to the Mount Sunapee Ski Resort are pushing to have their say one last time before a state deadline for comments.

The Friends of Mount Sunapee and the Sierra Club teamed up for a campaign that gathered over 1,900 comments. These opponents say they will fight the expansion – which would add a new lodge, lift, and trails on the western side of the mountain – every step of the way.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

If you visit Appledore Island during spring bird migration, consider wearing a helmet.

“Yeah I mean the herring gulls will hit you and it’s jarring, but the black-backs hitting you can do some serious damage,” says Sarah Courchesne, a sea-gull researcher with Tufts University, as she and her students suit up to go out and catch seagulls.

The gulls that nest around the research station get very protective this time of year

Kinder Morgan / FERC

In a filing with federal regulators, natural gas pipeline developer Kinder Morgan says it has chosen a location for a major natural gas compressor station in New Hampshire.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Last week, a UPS truck rolled up to an office of the Division of Forests and Lands. Its cargo? A cooler full of Asian wasps from a lab in Michigan.

Molly Heuss, who works on the state’s emerald ash borer program, cuts off the packing tape that holds the cooler shut to check out its contents.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR


The US Coast guard says so far it seems that a small oil spill near the mouth of the Piscataqua River has been totally cleaned up before it could reach the shore.

The spill came from oily water held in a tank aboard the research catamaran Ferdinand R. Hassler, after it had been used on the ship.

Flicker CC

The state has won a federal grant to fund a major land conservation deal near Cardigan Mountain.  

The Forest Legacy Grant program gave the state $3.8 million dollars to put a conservation easement on the forest near Cardigan Mountain. 5,100 acres in the towns north of Newfound Lake will still be harvested for timber, but can now never be developed.  The landowner – Green Acre Woodlands, which also owns anabutting property where Iberdrola developed the Groton Wind farm – will continue to hold the property, while the state will hold the conservation easement.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Kindergarten is a year of transition. Kids are learning how to listen, follow directions, sit still... but while they are making that transition, there’s a lot of mandatory wiggling.

In Mr. Woody’s morning kindergarten class, in Plainfield, a class of students blows off some steam while doing a “wiggle dance.” A stereo plays a children’s song that Mr. Woody sings along to, and the kids giggle and flail.

Jeannette S. / Flicker CC

New Hampshire Fish and Game commissioners have voted unanimously to ban using chocolate as bear bait.

The ban will be phased in beginning September 1st of this year. Hunters will be allowed to use chocolate donuts and pastries this season, in order to use up any supplies of bait they’ve already purchased, but all chocolate will be prohibited in the 2016 season.

Via USDA website

Lawmakers in the New Hampshire Senate say they will restore funding for a program to incentivize renewable energy. The future of that program has been in question ever since House budget-writers proposed emptying the fund to plug holes in the state’s overall budget.

Renewable energy installers have been lobbying hard for restoration of the fund, which last year gave out more than $6 million dollars in grants and rebates to hundreds of projects.

The program is funded by payments made by utilities which have failed to reach annual renewable energy goals.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / Flickr Creative Commons

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

When you’re a transmission arborist, you spend a lot of time in a helicopter, cruising over power-lines.

“So here’s an example of non-compliant vegetation,” says Kurt Nelson who does this job for Eversource. He indicates some young pines growing underneath the tall transmission towers. They aren’t high enough to endanger the lines… yet.

“That’ll be a target for us,” says Nelson.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  Opponents and backers of an expansion to the Mount Sunapee ski area packed a public hearing on the state's proposed deal that would allow that expansion.

After two hours of testimony in the packed Sunapee Base Lodge, opponents of putting a new chairlift and trails in the western bowl of the mountain outnumbered proponents.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

According to the state Division of Forest and Lands, fire danger is very high across the entire state. Fire fighters were battling brush fires in more than a half-dozen towns yesterday.

“Yesterday was probably the busiest day we’ve so far this spring” says Brad Simpkins, director of Forest and Lands, “and actually one of the busiest days we’ve probably had in the last few years."

Consumer Energy / Flicker CC

New Hampshire lawmakers are wrestling with whether they have any authority to regulate the construction of new natural gas pipelines. Legislation that lays out a series of proposals which would modify the way pipeline developers could use eminent domain went before a senate committee today.

tuchodl / Flicker CC

Most counties in New Hampshire took home high marks for air quality in this year’s “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association.

Two counties do stand out, however, as lagging behind the rest of the state.

Hillsborough county saw an elevated number of days with high levels of ozone or smog, which is produced primarily by automobile and power plant emissions. The trend generally in Hillsborough county has been toward less smog.

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 /

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?