Category Archives: Environment

Annual outdoor Halloween event in Castleton Friday

CASTLETON — Families can join a fun and educational Halloween campfire show led by students from Green Mountain College’s environmental education and interpretation program at the Edward F. Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp on Point of Pine Road in Castleton, on Friday, Oct. 25, from 5-8 p.m.
The second annual Halloween Wildlife Festival and Jack-o’Lantern Hike at the camp’s Education Center is where kids will learn about the creepy, crawly critters that reside in Vermont and have a chance to get decked out in their costumes before the traditional trick-or-treat night. The 20-minute campfire program will run at 5, 6, and 7 p.m.
Other activities include a nature hike along a trail that’s lit by carved pumpkins, wildlife-related activities, face painting, and a photo booth. Snacks will include apple cider, caramel apples and other seasonal treats.
“The Education Center at Kehoe does a natural resources related event every month, and October is a perfect time to highlight the fun of Halloween while focusing on the wildlife that make it so special” said Alison Thomas, education coordinator. “This event gives families a chance to enjoy the season in a different way and to learn these animals may not be so scary after all.”
Admission and activities are free and open to the general public, and all ages are welcome. No registration is required. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.
The Edward F. Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp is operated by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. This event is sponsored by the Fish & Wildlife Department and Green Mountain College. For directions to the Edward F. Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp, visit www.tinyurl.com/KehoeMap.
For more information about the event, contact Ali Thomas, Fish & Wildlife education coordinator at [email protected] or 802-371-9975.

Volunteers needed for annual turtle nest site cleanup in North Hero

The annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day is on Saturday, Oct. 26, at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 a.m. Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for help pulling up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next June.
Volunteers may also find a few hatchlings that occasionally remain in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.
Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell turtles in hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and most vulnerable to predation. They will be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.
“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species in your own backyard,” said Parren in a release. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles.”
Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 p.m., although participants can choose how long to assist.
To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburg. Follow Lakeview almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.
For more information, please contact Eric Lazarus at 802-658-8505 or [email protected]

The annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day is on Saturday, Oct. 26, at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 a.m. Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for help pulling up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next June.
Volunteers may also find a few hatchlings that occasionally remain in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.
Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell turtles in hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and most vulnerable to predation. They will be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.
“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species in your own backyard,” said Parren in a release. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles.”
Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 p.m., although participants can choose how long to assist.
To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburg. Follow Lakeview almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.
For more information, please contact Eric Lazarus at 802-658-8505 or [email protected]

Land donation creates 1,547-acre “Braintree Mountain Forest”

STAFF REPORT
BRAINTREE — A private donation and the help of a New England conservation foundation have preserved 1,547 acres in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, the New England Forestry Foundation announced Wednesday.
The new Braintree Mountain Forest will be open to the public passive recreational purposes. The forest has an internal road system and many trails for hiking and other forms of outdoor recreation, including snowmobiling on a designated VAST trail, the foundation said in a release.
The land’s owners, Paul Kendall and Sharon Rives, began acquiring the parcels that will make up the forest in the 1970s, building the acreage over time. The pair hoped to preserve the headwaters of the Riford Brook watershed from development, and continue to manage the woodlands sustainably. Their gift, which technically came from the Todhah Hill Foundation, is the culmination of their land conservation goals, according to the release.
“This is a significant milestone for our organization and takes us one step closer in our Heart of New England initiative to conserve 30 million acres by 2060,” said the forestry foundation’s executive director, Robert Perschel. The donation is the largest in the foundation’s history, according to the release.
The forest is managed by John McClain of Randolph, a consulting forester. The forestry foundation will manage the forest in the same manner and ensure that the ridgelines will remain undisturbed by visible develoment for at least 50 years. The forestland is located northwest of Randolph, along the ridge that separates Braintree and Rochester, between routes 12A and 100, with parts of the forest in both towns.
The foundation will host a dedication of the forest on Sept. 28 from 2 - 4 p.m. to mark the preservation. The event will include remarks, a ribbon-cutting, refreshments, and a guided hike. The event is open to the public, and all are welcome to attend.
Further information and event directions may be found online at www.newenglandforestry.org/events.

Gas pipeline opponents pack Middlebury PSB hearing

Bruce Edwards / Staff Photo Opponents of a natural gas pipeline made their views known at a public hearing Tuesday night in Middlebury.

Bruce Edwards / Staff Photo
Opponents of a natural gas pipeline made their views known at a public hearing Tuesday night in Middlebury.

By BRUCE EDWARDS | STAFF WRITER
MIDDLEBURY - Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline packed the gym at Middlebury Union Middle School Tuesday night to tell the Public Service Board they want no part of a pipeline that will bring fracked natural gas to Addison County.
One after one opponents came to the podium to denounce in often sharp terms plans by Vermont Gas Systems to extend its pipeline 43 miles from Chittenden County south to Middlebury with the prospect the pipeline could be extended west under Lake Champlain to New York and further south to Rutland.
A common theme that came across from the public comments was that the world was near the tipping point when it came to climate change and global warming. Despite supporters’ claims that natural gas is cleaner burning than fuel oil or coal, opponents were unrelenting in their criticism that emissions from fracked natural gas in particular will only add to the climate change problem.
Fracking is the process that uses water and chemicals under extremely high pressure to disgorge otherwise hard to extract natural gas beneath the earth’s surface.
But those opposed to the pipeline that would bring gas down from Canada said that the fracking process can destroy the land and pollute drinking water. Continue reading

Officials investigate Fern Lake fish deaths

LEICESTER (AP) — Vermont state agencies are investigating whether a pesticide sprayed to control mosquitoes caused a fish kill in a lake.
Leicester resident Zachary Saxe tells Vermont Public Radio (http://bit.ly/1bX32Z1) he saw and smelled dozens of dead fish in Fern Lake earlier this month.
The area near the Addison County lake is part of a mosquito control district that sprays pesticides to control larvae and adult mosquitoes. A report by state aquatic biologist Rick Levey said the die off “may be related” to the spraying.
He said the active ingredient in the pesticide, malathion, is extremely toxic to fish. Eight species of fish died.
Gary Meffe, who chairs the board of the mosquito control district, said it has a 20-year history of spraying in the area with no problems.

New wrinkle creates new barrier for Killington development

A suggestion from the Rutland Regional Planning Commission would — if supported by Act 250 officials — force the designers of a proposed $125 million development on Killington Mountain to return to their drawing boards.
The commission has sent a letter to the District 1 Environmental Commission suggesting that S.P. Land Co. incorporate 495 units of affordable workforce housing into its planned development, a suggestion that caught the president of the company by surprise.
“It’s not going to happen,” said Steven P. Selbo, president of S.P. Land. “This came out of nowhere. We’ve spent millions on this. We have architectural designs, sewer designs and engineering designs. This came as a shock and a real disappointment.”
S.P. Land has applied for an Act 250 permit to build 198 residential units, 32,000 square feet of retail space and 32 subdivision lots on Killington Mountain. The Agency of Natural Resources has granted party status to the Rutland, Southern Windsor County and Two Rivers-Ottauquechee regional planning commissions. The three commissions wrote a joint letter on the project to the Environmental Commission, but Rutland withdrew and has written a new one with the request for affordable housing requirement in it.

- Josh O’Gorman

-For the full story, see Tuesday’s Rutland Herald.

State to hold hearings on future of wildlife management area

BRIGHTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is going to be holding two hearings about the future of the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Essex County.

Since 1999, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has managed the 23,000-acre West Mountain wildlife area for conservation and public access. It has also managed a public access easement on adjacent lands now belonging to the Plum Creek Timber Company.

State lands biologist Doug Morin says everyone who regularly uses these lands should attend the meetings to provide comments and concerns.

The first hearing will be held June 11 at the Brighton Elementary School. The second will be June 13 at Lyndon State College.

Both hearings will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

State to hold hearings on future of wildlife management area

BRIGHTON, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife is going to be holding two hearings about the future of the West Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Essex County.

Since 1999, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has managed the 23,000-acre West Mountain wildlife area for conservation and public access. It has also managed a public access easement on adjacent lands now belonging to the Plum Creek Timber Company.

State lands biologist Doug Morin says everyone who regularly uses these lands should attend the meetings to provide comments and concerns.

The first hearing will be held June 11 at the Brighton Elementary School. The second will be June 13 at Lyndon State College.

Both hearings will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Welch joins Republican to back energy efficiency

MONTPELIER — Vermont Congressman Peter Welch is joining Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia to back legislation designed to promote more energy efficiency in homes and other buildings.
One of the bills, The Home Owner Managing Energy Savings Act, would provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements. Homeowners who demonstrate a 20 percent energy savings will receive a $2,000 rebate. For every 5 percent in additional energy savings, they can receive another $1,000 - up to a total of $8,000 or 50 percent of the project’s cost.
A second measure, the Better Buildings Act, would help get commercial landlords and tenants together to bring about the best energy savings practices to use when out-fitting space for their tenants’ needs.

Inmates build bat boxes to help bats

WINDSOR, Vt. (AP) — Inmates at Vermont’s Windsor prison are helping to save bats by building daytime roosting boxes.

The 50 bat houses were given away at this year’s Herrick’s Cove Wildlife Festival to attendees who regularly observe bats near their home.

Corrections staff member Paul Brosseau says the project educated the inmates about the problems Vermont’s bat populations are facing. An additional 150 more houses are being built.

The materials for the program were donated by the Windsor Coon Hunters Association.

Vermont’s six cave-bat species began disappearing in 2008 from white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that has rapidly spread to virtually all of the state’s bat caves.

The bat houses are an alternative site where bats can roost during the daytime.