Environment

Distant Hill Gardens

The New Hampshire state wildflower is blooming, and with it, the myth that surrounds it: that it’s super rare, and illegal to pick. In fact, the pink and white flower we know as the Lady Slipper is quite common. And picking this flower is completely legal.

“They are not considered ‘rare,’ they are actually common but are listed on the ‘special concerns’ list because they have propagation and climate issues,” according to NH Roots

The song of the veery is a haunting, ethereal song. Males sing at dusk, a time when not many other birds sing and daytime winds have calmed. It's also a time when the air turns damp; dense, moist air transfers sound waves better than dry air.

If you listen to the song carefully, you can hear an echo or tremolo effect (more on this below), because songbirds have, essentially, a double voice box that can produce two notes at the same time. (The left voice box is lower pitched than the right one.) In a sense, a singing veery harmonizes with itself.

Bobcats In The Granite State

Jun 12, 2014
Wayne Dumbleton Flickr CC

Researchers out of Durham are close to completing a study on bobcat populations in the Granite State. Though no one is sure how many bobcats are in New Hampshire, increased sightings and captures over the past decade have led researchers to believe bobcats are rebounding.

Dr. Marian Litvaitis and her husband John, both professors at UNH, have spearheaded the investigation as part of a project collaboration . Now in the project's fourth year, Litvaitis and her team are now focused primarily on bobcat genetics. I talked with Dr. Litvaitis about the rebounding cat on Thursday:

About 51 percent of the wood purchased for the new Burgess BioPower biomass plant in Berlin during its first two months of operation came from New Hampshire, according to a new “sustainability” report filed with the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

Thirty-five percent came from Maine.

Five percent from Vermont.

Eight percent from Massachusetts.

And "one truck load" came from Canada.

Karen Cardoza via Flickr CC

As summer approaches, boaters who enjoy spending time on Lake Winnipesaukee have their eyes focused on two things: the weather and the lake level.

Most lakes have natural high and low seasonal water points caused by the whims of nature. But the state’s largest lakes are too important to New Hampshire’s tourism economy to be left to chance.

Via WeirsBeach.com

The Lakeport Dam is only about 222-feet wide and more than 60 years old, but it stands at a unique New Hampshire crossroads.

Upstream is Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake covering more than 44½ thousands of acres of surface area and plunging to a depth of up to 212 feet.

Downstream is  the Winnipesaukee River, which travels through downtown Laconia (“The City of Lakes”) and then into Lake Winnisquam, the fourth-largest lake in New Hampshire.

Emre Kanik via Flickr CC

Say the word "formaldehyde" and you can practically smell it. The pungent preservative is associated with everything from nail polish and hair straightener to embalming fluid and fetal pigs. But it's also an ingredient found in a wide array of household items, such as glue, floor finish, paper and baby care products. 

"The whole point of the Kid Safe Products Act is to give Maine parents the right to know which toxic chemicals or cancer-causing chemicals are in everyday products," says Mike Belliveau of the Environmental Health Strategy Center.

Courtesy NE Wilderness Trust

Fred and Rosalind Slavic built their home on a thickly wooded site in Fitzwilliam a half century ago. They wanted their 300-acre tract to remain in a wild state, so they have willed it to the Northeast Wilderness Trust. The trust will dismantle the buildings and retain an easement on the land.

And Reago and Chrissy McClarren via Flickr/Creative Commons.

We went into the field this week to speak with Carol Foss, Member of the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group and NH Coordinator of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz

Rusty Blackbird populations have fallen over the last century: by between 80 and 90-percent. Last fall the working group decided to make careful study of the spring migration, and coordinated hundreds of volunteer scientists along the migration route to track the birds.

Karner Blue Male
aecole2010 / Flickr Creative Commons

A unique forest habitat in Concord that's home to the endangered Karner blue butterfly is getting a face-lift--and over $233,000 in funding --in an effort to increase the butterfly population.  The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service is getting the money to help maintain and restore the pine barrens, a mix of small trees, grassy areas and sandy soil, much of which has vanished nationwide to development.  The current population on the refuge is just over 1,500 butterflies. The goal is 3,000.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife via Flickr CC

As the ice continues to recede on shallow lakes and ponds, dead fish might be washing up on New Hampshire shorelines, but state officials say that's not uncommon.

The Fish and Game Department and Department of Environmental Services say a number of dead fish recently were discovered along the shore of Hopkinton Lake, also known as Elm Brook Pool, in Hopkinton.

Paul-W, Flikr Creative Commons

Delicate wildflowers poke through a dry, mat of last autumn's leaves pressed paper thin by the weight of a now-vanished snow pack.

Wildflower strategy is: bloom early, grow quickly in late spring and then die back. These "spring ephemerals" create an elegant spring nutrient dam, locking-up important soil nutrients otherwise washed-away by snowmelt or rain. When flowers die-back in summer shade, they release nutrients back to the roots of trees above.

Funding Fish And Game

Apr 2, 2014
kittynh / Flickr/CC

This agency does much more than serve hunters and anglers, it’s also involved in search and rescue, land conservation, and habitat management.  Despite all these responsibilities, hunting and fishing license fees are the main revenue source. Now, some in the Statehouse are taking hard look expanding that base - to hikers, canoers, and the many others who enjoy the great outdoors.

GUESTS:

Gilmanton Land Trust

On her commute from Laconia to Pittsfield six days a week, Tobi Gray Chassie often stops at scenic spot in Gilmanton called Frisky Hill. When Chassie saw a sign telling of plans to develop the land, she felt that it was her duty to support the Gilmanton Land Trust in their protection of the land which meant so much to her.

State Begins Study On Moose Decline In N.H.

Feb 3, 2014
Northeast Naturalist via Flickr CC

New Hampshire Fish and Game will closely monitor 43 moose in the state to learn more about why their numbers keep decreasing.  

Cheryl Senter

The Great Bay Stewards work to preserve and protect the Great Bay estuary through education, land protection and research. Sharon Musselman, one of the educators, is recently a retired teacher who often brought her own classes here to explore this ecosystem.

"I'm excited to be here at Great Bay Discover center," Musselman said. "I brought my first grade class to Great Bay for 15 years because it is such a great experience for first graders."

A printing equipment company has agreed to pay $116,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency over air pollution violations at its plant in Hudson, N.H.

Last September, the EPA filed a complaint against Presstek alleging violations of hazardous waste management laws, including failure to comply with air emission regulations.

The EPA said as part of its operations manufacturing printing equipment, Presstek generates hazardous wastes that include solvent-containing wastes, which are ignitable, and corrosive wastes.

Sara Plourde

We’re beginning this new year with “Re-think 2014”, conversations and stories that challenge our assumptions, habits and ways of doing things.

We’re kicking off “Re-think 2014” with Fred Pearce, environment consultant for New Scientist magazine.  His article, “How Beer Money Helped Save a Nation’s Water Supply” appeared in Conservation Magazine. It’s an example of a conglomerate upending the business-as-usual model of pursuing profits no matter the environmental and human costs. In this case – helping to protect an essential natural resource for its own manufacturing, and the people of Columbia.

  New Hampshire's a state insect, the ladybug was nominated by persuasive Concord fifth graders; the pumpkin is our state fruit courtesy of some persuasive Harrisville third and fourth graders. I'd like to plant a seed—or perhaps a spore—for nomination of rock polypody as our state fern. Here's the case.

NHPR

On Monday Governor Hassan joined Democratic governors from seven other Northeastern states in asking the EPA to clamp down on emissions drifting over their borders from other states. The petition targets states upwind from the Northeast, which Governor Hassan says produce the vast majority of ozone-causing pollution in New Hampshire, wafts across our borders from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic

“If we took every single car off our roadways, we still could only reduce ozone by three percent,” Hassan told reporters during a conference call.

Sustainable Sanitation via Flickr Creative Commons

More than a third of the world’s population don’t have access to clean, safe toilets. It’s a humanitarian and global health hazard, that the world bank drains $260 billion off the global economy each year. The Gates Foundation challenged engineers to develop commodes that are clean, cheap, and don’t require electricity, a sewage system, or even water. But as with and new product, you have to test it. That’s where John Koeller comes in. He’s principal engineer at Maximum Performance, a company who tests toilet efficiency, using its own – ahem—patented material.

©Diane Cook and Len Jenshel/National Geographic

Tumbleweeds rolling? Must be a western. The cinematic signal of high plains desolation has an even more pernicious side: it’s an invasive species known as Russian Thistle, and it’s wreaking havoc across the United States. George Johnson is a writer based in Santa Fe, and a regular contributor to National Geographic, where he wrote about fighting the tumbleweed menace in his own backyard. To see more photos click here.

New Hampshire’s program to clean up MTBE contamination is getting underway.

The Executive Council has approved funding for an Remediation Bureau, which will begin testing wells and water sources for MTBE contamination. The gasoline additive was intended to help the state address air pollution, but it was banned in 2007, years after the state began seeking damages from companies that produced and marketed gasoline with MTBE because of its effects on groundwater.

Rachel Rohr / Courtesy UNH

One of the challenges apple growers face is a fungal disease known as apple scab. New research at the University of New Hampshire might yield a better approach to preventing its spread – an approach, by the way, that includes the use of special imaging cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAV’s or drones.
 

Fragile Oasis via Flickr Creative Commons

The opening of the U.N.'s climate change summit this past weekend in Poland was overshadowed by Typhoon Haiyan. A Filipino envoy broke down in tears when describing the devastation, and received a standing ovation when he announced that he would fast until a "meaningful outcome is in sight."

An increase in weather-related disasters, fluctuating temperatures and rising sea levels are among the discouraging issues being discussed at the 2-week summit in Warsaw. But, there is some encouraging news…a new report by a Dutch agency found that global greenhouse gas emissions showed signs of slowing in 2012. The slackened pace is not attributed to recession, and has, in fact, occurred as wealth continues to climb among the world’s top CO2 emitters. Fred Pearce is environmental consultant for New Scientist, and breaks down the optimistic report for us. 

Barbara via flickr Creative Commons

There are between 800,000 and 1.2 million moose in North America, but scientists are concerned that their numbers are shrinking – and fast. Moose populations from New Hampshire to Minnesota have been plummeting for years – as much as twenty-five percent each year in some cases – and while there are plenty of theories, nobody’s quite sure why.

Jim Robbins is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the New York Times. He wrote about the moose die-off for the Times’ environment section.

kardboard604 via flickr Creative Commons

The data on driving is that for nearly a decade, Americans are driving less – especially younger drivers. With an added drop in vehicle sales and issued driver licenses, some researchers and reporters suggest that the US may have passed “peak car” – and that America’s infatuation with driving may have hit its zenith in the 1990s.

Jordan Weissmann is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he wrote about the concept of “peak car”.

Emily Badger, is a staff writer for The Atlantic Cities, she’s also covered the “peak car” phenomenon.

While many Americans struggle to trim sugar and fat from their diets, a far more dangerous ingredient may be seeping in…from the ground. Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless poison that exists in the earth’s crust. Last winter, the U.S. Geological Survey found that low levels of arsenic were present in forty percent of New Hampshire’s groundwater, for example,  with one in five wells measuring above ten parts-per-billion.

Independent researchers have also identified excessive levels of arsenic in water-intensive crops, including rice grown in the U.S. and abroad. Deborah Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, columnist and blogger for Wired and The New York Times. She was given access to a U.S.G.S. map showing arsenic concentration across the U.S. ahead of its release to the public, and is joining us to share some of the findings. 

N.H. Joins Lawsuit Aimed At Blocking Fishing Regulations

Sep 16, 2013

New Hampshire is joining a lawsuit arguing that new federal rules will devastate New England's groundfishing industry.

Gov. Maggie Hassan and Attorney General Joseph Foster said Monday that New Hampshire has joined a lawsuit Massachusetts filed against fishing regulators in May seeking to block the rules.

A couple weeks ago the Associated Press reported that the Department of Agriculture was dropping new vanilla-flavored rabies vaccines by airplane over New Hampshire forests as part of a five-state pilot study. Okay, if that sounds a little strange to you, get this: apparently the government has been distributing rabies vaccines by plane for over fifteen years. The story piqued the interest of NHPR environmental reporter Sam Evans-Brown, so he did some digging and is here to tell us more.

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