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Environment

The State of Connecticut

The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced a new initiative, the Opportunity Zones Program, to spur investment in the nation’s most distressed communities. The state of Connecticut is home to 72 Opportunity Zones. What efforts are being made to attract investors to these regions? This hour, we find out, and we also hear from you. Do you live in or near an Opportunity Zone? 

A thin layer of leaves on your lawn can help the soil and grass.
Aarthi Ramamurthy (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Fall is great for shuffling through layers of dried, fallen leaves. I love the smell, sound and feeling of the leaves underfoot. But leaves are also a great resource for your garden, lawn and yard. So, let's look at five ways to use those leaves in the garden.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Morgan Bengel stood about 35 feet underground, gesturing at the cold, rocky walls inside Old New-Gate Prison & Copper Mine. Late 18th-century descriptions of this subterranean penitentiary were bleak.

“Some of the words are, hell, a dungeon, woeful mansion,” Bengel said. 

Chris J (Flickr) / Creative Commons

It's getting closer to the big day. Halloween rivals Christmas for the amount of money spent on decorating, costumes and parties. However, with all the things you can buy for Halloween decorations, the pumpkin is still at the center of all the action.

Mary Anne Williams

Dozens of Connecticut homes have been hoisted off the ground as the state helps pay homeowners to repair ruined concrete foundations. 

This hour, we check in on the crumbling foundations crisis that is impacting homes and homeowners. We talk with the Hartford Courant journalist behind a yearlong series on Connecticut’s ruined concrete foundations

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Politicians and environmentalists met on the banks of the Farmington River Monday to call for more federal action to regulate a band of toxic chemicals. The call comes following two-high profile accidents at Bradley International Airport.

Smooth Mud Crab Found In Maine For The First Time

Oct 14, 2019
This Oct. 3, 2019 photo provided by Marissa McMahan shows a smooth mud crab in Georgetown, Maine. The crab normally lives further south, and it's unknown how it ended up in Maine waters.
Marissa McMahan / AP

Experts are hoping to learn more about how a species of crab, normally found in the warmer waters of the mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast, wound up in the New Meadows River in West Bath.

Carmen Baskauf / Connecticut Public Radio

Do you worry about how you’re everyday actions contribute to climate change? You may think about the carbon gas-burning cars are putting into the atmosphere, or coal-powered electricity in your houses.

But what about the food you eat?

Japanese barberry.
Calin Darabus (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Fall is a great time to watch birds enjoy the various wild berries, as they get ready for winter and migration. However, some of the plants the birds enjoy are not good characters. There are a number of invasive shrubs that are spread by birds eating the berries and then pooping out the seeds. These shrubs can take over habitats, crowd out natives and make the environment less hospitable for wildlife.

Tracking Connecticut's Bobcats

Oct 11, 2019
Lydia Brown / Connecticut Public Radio

It’s a lethal hunter, marked by its tufted ears and focused gaze. It's a breathtaking sight, if you’re lucky enough to see one.

This hour: the bobcat.

This stealthy species has made a comeback in recent years. We talk to researchers who are working to better understand Connecticut’s only wild feline. 

Clownhouse III / Creative Commons

Financial auditors Wednesday cited the state Department of Agriculture for a “serious breakdown” in its accounting procedures. It’s a breakdown that included numerous uncashed checks that were left in a safe in a store room in Hartford. 

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

A ban on consuming fish taken from a portion of the Farmington River will likely remain in place “at a minimum” for the remainder of the year, the state said. 

The timeline from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection comes following two high-profile discharges of per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) at Bradley Airport.

Each summer for the last two decades, Jim Parker has readied his small whale watch boat, and made a business out of ferrying tourists out into the cool blue waters of the Gulf of Maine.

For years, it was steady work. The basin brimmed with species that whales commonly feed on, making it a natural foraging ground for the aquatic giants. Whales would cluster at certain spots in the gulf, providing a reliable display for enchanted visitors to the coastal community of Milbridge, Maine.

If you're in the mood for a tuna poke bowl or an old-school tuna niçoise salad, here's a tip: Don't hit up the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. It has been nearly six years since chef Jonathon Sawyer became a "tuna evangelist" after attending a meeting of like-minded chefs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was there that he made the decision to forgo tuna — both in his personal life and on the menus at all four of his restaurants.

Thawt Hawthje / Creative Commons

New England experienced fewer days with unhealthy air quality this year compared to last year, but Connecticut fared the worst in the six-state region, according to federal environmental officials.

Leonora (Ellie) Enking (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Fall is in full swing. The perennial flower gardens are taking on the colors of autumn with colorful berries, foliage and flowers. While we all know about goldenrod, asters and chrysanthemums as traditional fall flowers, there are other perennial flowers, hardy in our area, that can increase the fall color range and interest.

images of Giant ground sloth (Megatherium americanum), Moa (Megalapteryx didinus), Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus)
Ballista, George Edward Lodge, Michael L. Baird / Wikimedia Commons

What would it have been like to see a huge, elephant-like mastodon roaming our state? 

The earth has been home to some spectacularly large animals. A few of them still roam or swim our world today. This hour, we take a look at the biology of these giants. 

From chunky island-dwelling birds to the enormous blue whale, what do we know about why these creatures evolved to be so big? And why don’t we see more of them today? 

Plus, with a UN report warning that a million species are at risk of extinction in coming years, are we at risk of losing those big creatures we still have?

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

State health and environmental officials say Connecticut’s drinking water should undergo required testing for PFAS, a group of more than 4,000 synthetic chemicals. That’s according to a new report, which comes as the Department of Public Health issued a new PFAS-contamination alert following the crash of a vintage aircraft with 13 people onboard Wednesday morning.

Northeast Heating Oil Industry Looks To Biodiesel To Reduce Carbon Emissions

Oct 1, 2019
Joe Mabel / Creative Commons

The Northeast heating oil industry plans to begin pressing New England states to mandate certain standardized levels of biodiesel content in home heating oil.

At an industry summit in Rhode Island on Sept. 19, member companies of the New England Fuel Institute and related companies voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to work toward a 15% reduction in carbon emissions by 2023, 40% by 2030, and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Monday was the deadline for energy companies to submit plans to Connecticut officials for the development of offshore wind power in response to the first-ever RFP dedicated solely to the energy source.

Jesse Costa / WBUR

Trevor Allard stands in the sawmill's observation deck at Allard Lumber with his sales manager, looking down on a dusty expanse of grinding saw blades and conveyor belts.

Allard's father co-founded the company, in Brattleboro, Vermont, nearly 50 years ago. It's located where Trevor's grandfather once farmed the land. 

A new cognitive garden at UConn's Avery Point campus.
Annette Montoya

When I was a young boy growing up near my Italian grandfather's farm in Waterbury, every day my cousins, and neighborhood friends, would spend hours in the farm fields and forest playing. We'd make up games, go on adventures, or simply lie in the field and dream. Little did I know that we were creating better cognitive functioning for our brains.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut and 16 other states are challenging the Trump administration over its rollback of the federal Endangered Species Act.

Doc Searls / Flickr

An epoch of our own making is one way to describe it. And as the Anthropocene is set to be formally recognized as a chrono-stratigraphic unit in the next couple of years, scientists, philosophers, engineers and many more are exploring unconventional ways of adapting to this new era.

This story is Part 3 in a series on the future of nuclear power. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

The future of fusion energy is right around the corner. You’ll find it off Massachusetts Avenue, on Albany Street in Cambridge. It’s on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in an old, low-rise, brown brick building once owned by Nabisco.

Roxann Roche doesn’t expect to get rich farming. She and her husband both have other jobs. She's a gardner. He's a mechanic. And like many for the past few years, their small family farm in northwestern Connecticut operated at a loss. 

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio

Teenagers and young children around the world are speaking up to call for immediate action to reverse global warming and decrease the use of fossil fuels. That movement, dubbed a “Global Climate Strike,” made its way to Hartford just outside the state Capitol Friday.

Sunflower.
metin.gul (Flickr) / Creative Commons

Sunflowers are gorgeous this time of year. New varieties feature colors such as gold, white, burgundy and bronze. While most sunflowers grow tall, some new varieties are short and bushy. Sunbelieveable fits well in containers with its bushy growth and produces hundreds of small, yellow flowers all summer.

The Puritan tiger beetle used to be found up and down the Connecticut River, but climate change, dam construction, flooding, and other ecosystem changes have reduced its range to a few small patches of sandy soil.

For researchers, where those patches are is a well-guarded secret. That's because last fall, they planted hundreds of beetle larvae on a few of those beaches, with the hopes of finding adults this year. 

Rodger Gwiazdowski gently runs his hands through sand. Puritan tiger beetles burrow in sandy beach habitat found along the banks of the Connecticut River.

Part 1 in a series on the future of nuclear power. Part 2 is here.

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Future? In Massachusetts, nuclear power is history.

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