Environment

USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab via Flickr

Today on Word of Mouth, invasive species like Zebra Mussels to Asian Carp, are destroying biodiversity across North America. Or are they? Also, we'll look into China’s push to build a frozen food infrastructure. The number of urban Chinese households with a refrigerator has risen from just 7 percent to 95 percent in a decade. We’ll find out what that means for global climate change.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.


Flkr Creative Commons / KeithCarver

Experts estimate there are nearly 300 adult loons living on Vermont's lakes and ponds, up from just a couple dozen 30 years ago.

On Saturday, more than 200 volunteers spread out across Vermont for the annual loon survey.

The results of the survey are trickling in, but Eric Hanson of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies and the coordinator of the Vermont Loon Conservation Project, says there are many more birds now than just a few years ago.

He says 15 years ago there were around 100 loons and in 1983 biologists counted only 29.

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says there is $2.2 million available this fall for grants to protect drinking water in the southern part of the state.

The money comes from a fund established to offset impacts to wetlands and streams associated with the widening of Interstate 93 between the Massachusetts border in Salem and the I-93/I-293 interchange in Manchester.

Josue Mendivil via Flickr CC

Three beaches in New Hampshire are getting high marks for clean water quality.

The beaches are Hampton Beach State Park, Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road, and Wallis Sands State Park beach.

The Natural Resources Defense Council put them at "superstar" status along with 32 other beaches nationally in its annual "Testing the Waters" report.

Officials say New Hampshire ranks second out of 30 states that are part of the EPA's beach monitoring program.

Robin Nystron via Flickr CC

City officials in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, say one of their oldest trees has died.

The American elm tree on Peirce Island was over 100 years old.

The Portsmouth Herald reports members of the Peirce Island Committee noticed the elm didn't sprout buds in the spring. The tree has no leaves.

Peter Loughlin, chairman of the city's Trees and Public Greenery Committee, said Dutch elm disease has killed American elms up and down the East Coast. He said the tree was the last surviving elm in the city.

The University of New Hampshire is celebrating its use of a unique energy recovery composting system.  UNH is believed to be the only university in the nation with such a compost facility, which captures generated heat for water that can be pumped to reservoirs and used for wash water, provide pre-heated water for a boiler or be used in heating systems.  The system at UNH's Organic Dairy Research Farm, installed last year, preheats water used to clean and sterilize a tank and tubing in the milk room.  The compost facility was named for Joshua Nelson, who advanced the technology.

Today is the last lengthening day of the year. Tomorrow - Summer Solstice - is the first full day of summer. Hooray! In that sense, today is the "end of the beginning" while tomorrow marks the "beginning of the end."

N.H.'s War On Invasive Bugs & Plants

Jun 18, 2014
Don't Move Firewood / Flickr/CC

In New Hampshire lakes, rivers and ponds, non-indigenous plants have moved in choking out the natural flora and fauna, but volunteers and state officials have taken up the fight against them. We’ll look at the latest in that fight, as well as invasive insects from the Emerald Ash Borer to the Wooly Adelgid.

GUESTS:

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.

State Fern Nominee?

Dec 27, 2013

  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.

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