Environment

Courtesy: UNH Cooperative Extension

Walking in among the rows of more than a 100-varieties of cold-hardy kiwis planted at his UNH observational vineyard, Professor Iago Hale says forget those fuzzy brown kiwis, if you really want flavor, try his plants. 

“Right off the bat you’re dealing with a much, much sweeter fruit, but it’s not cloyingly sweet,” he says squinting against the morning sun, “It also has a lot of acid to it, so it has this really complex flavor to it, a lot of tropical kind of flavors: pineapple, mango, papaya – I mean they’re amazing!”

https://flic.kr/p/5CMq7a / Flicker CC

This story starts with with John Ramaska, of Manchester, and any customer like him. A while back, he wanted to switch to heating his house with natural gas.

“My neighbor in back of me right over here has gas, so I’m in between gas and gas. No big deal, this is great!” he says, describing his thinking at the time.

But then he found out the pipe that connected him to the gas main wasn’t up to code, and he’d have to get a new hot water heater, and in the end Ramaska didn’t make the change.

https://flic.kr/p/5Dr6fa / Flicker CC

State officials announced Monday that the state’s renewable energy fund, which provides rebates for people putting solar panels on their roofs or installing high efficiency wood-fired boilers, earned $4.38 million dollars last year.

That might sound like a lot, but it’s a drop of 75% from the previous year.

Via Outdoorhub.com

The invasive beetle that has devastated ash trees in the Midwest is now confirmed in a fourth county here in New Hampshire. State officials have found Emerald Ash Borer in a box trap in the town of Gilmanton.

On Monday, a quarantine which prohibits taking wood across county lines will extend to Belknap county.

New Hampshire’s State Entomologist, Piera Siegert, says the pest has also been found in Hillsborough, Rockingham and Merrimack County. The infestation appears to be clustered in the center of the state.

Courtesy: New Hampshire Fish and Game

  A loon has been found dead in Alton Bay with a piece of lead fishing tackle in its gizzard.

According to the Loon Preservation Committee, every year between seven and eleven loons are killed by lead fishing tackle. The one found in Alton Bay is this year’s first.

“The majority of the lead deaths we get are in July and August, and that corresponds exactly with peak lake use and peak fishing,” says Harry Vogel, Senior Biologist with the Committee.

Saratoga Associates

The state’s energy siting board has put off deciding whether to take jurisdiction over the proposal to build a small wind farm in the town of Antrim.

But for Portsmouth-based developer Eolian Renewable Energy, what’s a few more weeks when you’ve been trying to build a wind farm for seven years?

The latest question before the state hinges on whether proposed changes designed to lessen the visual impact of the project are different enough to constitute a new project.

It might seem like Jack Kenworthy is a glutton for punishment.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

New Hampshire’s largest utility says a US Supreme Court ruling which on mercury emissions won’t affect its plans to install pollution controls at its coal-burning plant in Portsmouth.

The ruling – which finds the EPA should have incorporated estimates of the cost of the proposed regulation earlier on in the process – comes after Eversource has already begun work on upgrades to the sixty six-year-old plant.

Via NH DES

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services officials say they have discovered a dense infestation of milfoil in a popular pond in Bow.

Officials say the infestation found in Turee Pond is so dense that it suggests milfoil's probably been present in the pond for three to four years.

Milfoil is an invasive plant found in bodies of fresh water.

Officials say Turee Pond gets a high number of boaters, any one of which could have introduced milfoil from another contaminated body of water on a boat or fishing gear.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

President Barack Obama has signed a scaled back version of an energy efficiency bill co-authored by New Hampshire Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

The bill, co-sponsored by New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, aims to cut energy use in commercial buildings, manufacturing plants and homes. It includes the Better Buildings Act, which Ayotte first introduced in 2013.

The measure was popular with both parties. But it was defeated last year after becoming enmeshed in a partisan fight over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

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.

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.

Daniel Godin via Flickr CC

Crews are planting more than 2,000 shrubs and trees near the Ammonoosuc River north of Lisbon, New Hampshire, to stop erosion and create new wildlife habitat.

The Caledonian Record reports that erosion has been eating into the river banks. Crews will establish a 35-foot buffer of mostly dogwood and willow trees. There will also be a riparian flood plain forest consisting of silver maple, red maple, cottonwood, box elder and American elm.

An upland forest is being created to include yellow birch and white pine and white ash.

Dave Spier via Flickr CC

Early indications show some promise for a New Hampshire moose herd that has been wobbled by a troublesome parasite.

Kristine Rines, a wildlife biologist and the moose project leader for the state's Fish and Game Department, says it's still too early to say with certainty if the 2014-15 winter will be better than previous winters, but data so far shows fewer calf deaths and fewer winter ticks.

Among the animals tagged by state biologists, seven of 27 calves had died as of last week. That's a 26 percent mortality rate, compared to 64 percent last year.

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.

I was the victim of a senseless and unprovoked attack recently. My assailant's full identity has yet to be determined, so for now, I’ll just refer to him as Tom.

Tom is a turkey.

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.

As Waters Warm, Smelt Getting Scarce In Great Bay

Mar 30, 2015
Dave Kellam

As fishermen in Stratham use chainsaws to remove their smelt fishing shacks from the frozen Squamscott River, Chris Babineau, of Raymond, takes a break to reflect on the season. “We’ve had the ice, but we haven’t caught any smelts, I can tell you that,” he says, “In the last three years you’d be lucky to get one smelt.”   

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.

Via the US Forest Service

A study says that a mutated fungus is infecting white pine forests in parts of New Hampshire.

White pine blister rust comes from a combination of white pines and flowering plants — called ribes — like gooseberries and currants. When infected ribes lose their leaves in the fall, spores of the fungus invade white pines and eventually kill the tree.

A U.S. Forest Service study says the fungus is infecting trees in Epsom and Concord, and possibly elsewhere in the Northeast.

Paul Cooper via Flickr CC

A total of $1.3 million in grants is going to 13 Connecticut River projects in New Hampshire and Vermont to improve water quality, restore habitat and conserve space.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation grants were announced Tuesday.

A fund dedicated to the restoration and protection of the river, its wetlands and shorelands is expected to provide about $21 million for the projects over 20 years.

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

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. 

Dave Spier via Flickr CC

Biologists in New Hampshire and Maine are teaming up on a five-year study to better understand why moose populations are declining.

WMUR-TV reports that Maine's estimated population of 60,000 moose has fared better than New Hampshire's herd of about 4,000 but both states are seeing a decline, largely blamed on more winter ticks.

Lee Kantar of Maine's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and Kristine Rines of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department are collaborating on the study.

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.

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

  New Hampshire wildlife officials say several more ducks have died since nearly two dozen of the wild birds were found dead in a storm runoff basin in Concord.

Conservation officers recovered 22 dead ducks Saturday from the oil-contaminated water at a housing development. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, but two have since died, along with another duck found walking in a driveway.

Officials are investigating how what appears to be motor oil ended up in the basin.

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