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.

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire wildlife officials say 22 wild ducks were 

found dead in oil-contaminated water in a storm runoff basin at a Concord housing development.

Officials say the dead birds were recovered Saturday by conservation officers using nets while contending with extreme cold temperatures, deep snow and thin ice. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

Jon Sullivan / Flickr CC

  Rather than ending New Hampshire's participation in a regional cap-and-trade program designed to limit carbon emissions, House members have voted to stay in the program but send more of the profits back to ratepayers.

iStock Photo/Thinkstock

  A bill to take New Hampshire out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, has been changed in the House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy.

It would now maintain New Hampshire’s participation in the program but would allocate all of the money raised by the program away from renewable energy projects and into electric rate relief.

Right now, the state puts four out of every five dollars it gets per carbon allowance into rate subsidies.

Dan Arndt / Flicker CC

  The Audubon Society says it has observed 90 bald eagles in New Hampshire this winter. That’s the second year in a row that the count has documented a record number of the once-endangered birds in the Granite State..

When bird enthusiasts did the first winter count of Bald Eagles in New Hampshire in 1981, they saw fewer than ten. The population stayed low through the 1980s, but then began to rise.


The Seacoast Science Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team just wrapped up its inaugural year.

The team took over responding to rescue calls for seals and other stranded mammals in coastal New Hampshire last January.

The New England Aquarium in Boston previously handled those duties.

Ashley Stokes is rescue coordinator for the Marine Mammal Rescue Team.

She joins Morning Edition to talk about the group’s efforts.

Sam Evans-Brown for NHPR

A public outreach campaign for a major natural gas pipeline kicked off at an open house Wednesday in Winchester, New Hampshire. 

The proposed project, by Texas-based pipeline developer Kinder Morgan, was moved North to New Hampshire late last year, in part to ease concerns of critics along the original route in Northern Massachusetts. Despite the company’s efforts to minimize the line’s impact, resistance along the new route has been just as strong.

The scene outside a presentation of any major energy infrastructure project tends to feature two crowds: unions…

Julian- / Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Electric Coop will soon be the first utility in the state to fulfill a state-mandated requirement on how many customers are allowed to sell their solar energy back onto the grid. This has led some potential solar customers concerned about whether they will recoup their investment to bring their complaints to the Coop’s Board of Directors.

To get what this brouhaha is all about, you first have to know what net-metering is.

Mac Armstrong / Flicker CC

State lawmakers are being asked to decide if hydro-power from Canada should be eligible for renewable energy subsidies.

The proposal was one of two presented by Republican David Murotake of Nashua that would make modifications to the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

He says lumping hydro in as renewable energy would drive down the cost of meeting the state’s renewable energy goals.

A proposal to remove New Hampshire from a multi-state carbon cap-and trade program appears to have little public support.The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee took testimony on the bill Thursday morning. Two Republican lawmakers spoke in favor of the bill during the first two hours of the hearing while several state officials and members of the public spoke against it.Mike Fitzgerald with the Department of Environmental Services noted that participating in the program, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI , will likely make the state compliant with proposed fed

Woodstove 2006
Gord McKenna / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting Thursday residents of Cheshire County can turn in old, inefficient woodstoves for a voucher towards a new cleaner-burning stove.

The vouchers are worth $1,000 towards an EPA certified woodstove, $1,500 towards a pellet or gas stove, or $4,000 towards a new outdoor wood boiler. In all $425,000 worth of vouchers will be given out.

Woodstoves built before 1988 are a lot less efficient and put out a lot more pollution than modern stoves, and since they are essentially big chunks of iron they last a long time.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

In a meeting Wednesday, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission began a discussion on whether to open a bobcat trapping season. The proposal is far from final, but it’s already attracting the ire of the animal rights community.

Late last year biologists at the University of New Hampshire announced the results of a study, commissioned by Fish and Game. They estimated that from 1989 to today, the bobcat population in New Hampshire had rebounded from less than 200 cats to somewhere between 800 and 1,400.

Rich Misner via Flickr CC

The state Department of Environmental Services has declared an "air quality action day" for southwestern New Hampshire.

The state said on Thursday, it expected air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis.

Sara Plourde / NHPR; Data: NH Legislative Budget Assistant

It’s a budget year, and lawmakers will soon be hard at work trying to come up with a balanced two year spending plan. If past is precedent, one place where budget-writers on both sides of the aisle may look for money is from what are known as dedicated funds – pots of money raised by fees and earmarked for specific purposes. But this year the practice may face serious pushback.

Credit Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Some residents of the New Hampshire town of Mason say they feel singled out by a proposed natural gas pipeline project that would cross the town twice over.

Related: Sam Evans-Brown reports on Kinder Morgan's plans to move their preferred pipeline route to New Hampshire.

They raised objections at a public meeting Tuesday night.


State officials are warning ice conditions are more dangerous than they appear.

After an unseasonably warm December, a hard frost has settled over New Hampshire, coating many ponds and lakes with a layer of ice. That ice may look solid, but in many cases it’s not nearly thick enough for ice fishing or snow mobiles.

Kevin Jordan with Fish and Game says to hike or fish safely you need four to six inches of solid ice, and for snowmobiling you need eight to ten inches.

As winter arrives, many Vermonters are probably going to be shivering – indoors. The state wants to weatherize 80,000 homes, a quarter of them owned or occupied by people with low incomes, by 2020.

But that goal is behind schedule, even though some new money is coming in.

Chris Jensen / NHPR

A proposed wind farm in the Monadnock Region is resubmitting its application to the state. Almost two years ago regulators rejected the project.

Kinder Morgan / http://www.kindermorgan.com/content/docs/TGP_Northeast_Energy_Direct_Fact_Sheet.pdf

A natural gas pipeline developer says New Hampshire is now its preferred route for a brand new project it hopes to build in 2017. 

Kinder Morgan, a Texas-based deveoper, had initially planned to route the Northeast Energy Direct pipeline through Northern Massachusetts. After grass-roots groups and several politicians pushed back against the plan, the developer began to explore alternatives.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

  The Mount Sunapee Ski Resort is asking the state for permission to build new lifts and new trails. It’s a proposal that was stymied by political resistance in Concord for ten years. Now with a change of governors, a court victory, and growing local support for the expansion, the lay of the land for the expansion has shifted dramatically.

Min Lee via Flickr CC

New Hampshire health, environment and wildlife officials are holding a public meeting on shellfish rules for 2015.

The information session set for Tuesday night in Portsmouth will be an opportunity for the public to hear about a dye tracking study that traced effluent flows from the Pierce Island wastewater treatment facility to Little Harbor and areas of Portsmouth Harbor out to Odiorne Point. Officials say that study indicates that shellfish harvesting in those areas need to be closed.

New England Cod Fishermen are again facing stricter catch limits.

Last year, fisherman faced a 77 percent cut in how many cod they could catch, and now the New England Fisheries Management Council has voted to establish another 75 percent cut. Together the cuts reduce the catch limit for Gulf of Maine Cod from 6,700 metric tons in 2012 to 386 in 2015.