Environment | Connecticut Public Radio


The Great River

Jul 27, 2012
The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of Dr. W. J. Russell

Highway. Barrier. Resource. Sewer. Each of these names has been used to describe the Connecticut River in the almost four centuries since Europeans first settled along its banks.  This prominent feature of the state’s physical landscape also provides a reference point for our sense of place (e.g. “east of the river” or “the lower valley”) in a land where local identity still exerts a powerful influence.

Suburbs 4.0

Jul 25, 2012
Toronto Map Company (Wikimedia Commons)

Our federally-funded highway system has been called the greatest public subsidy to private real estate in history. Where’s that real estate? The suburbs. 

Courtesy of Flickr CC by xxxtoff

Millions of bison used to roam parts of the U.S. more than two centuries ago. Once close to extinction, the commercial meat market has brought back the bison to farms in many states including Connecticut. In Goshen, a five-week old calf is getting a lot of attention since the day he was born. WNPRs Lucy Nalpathanchil has the story

Discussing "Pocket Neighborhoods" in New Haven

Jul 20, 2012

The economy and environmental concerns are slowly reversing the trend of suburban sprawl and embracing concepts such as pocket neighborhoods – or groups of smaller houses clustered around a shared space, like a park or community garden. An architect who has revived the concept in the past 20 years shared his views in New Haven last night.

CC-BY (Wikimedia Commons)

Perry McKenna

This is a strange time in the life of corn. The 2012 US corn crop is getting smaller by the hour because of the terrible heat and drought in the Midwest. It's difficult to know what that means, because from a certain perspective, this country produces way too much corn. 

Bevin Bells On The Road To Recovery

Jul 17, 2012
Tucker Ives

It's been six weeks since the Bevin Brothers factory burned to the ground and the East Hampton company is moving forward with plans to rebuild. 

Understanding Global Environmental Politics

Jul 16, 2012

At the Rio Earth Summit that just concluded, more than 100 world leaders gathered to talk global sustainability and set goals for the environment. President Barack Obama was not among them. Neither was Angela Merkel of Germany or David Cameron of the UK. This may say something about the real importance of these gatherings.

Connecticut's "Transportation Gap"

Jul 16, 2012
Chiyeuk (Wikimedia Commons)

New research from the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy program finds a stark disparity in public transit options between Connecticut’s bigger cities and their surrounding areas.

Brookings researcher Adie Tomer spent two years running transportation models in 100 metro regions across America. He says having data on commuting times is crucial in figuring out how to jumpstart struggling economies.

“Public transportation is a critical cog in actually making sure our metropolitan economies function to the peak of their abilities," Tomer says.

Neena Satija

As the nation sheds the idea of “clean coal” for plentiful and even cleaner natural gas, environmental activists are hoping that they can push Connecticut to abandon coal as a power source. But that’s easier said than done.

The Bridgeport Harbor Station has been a fixture in this city for decades. Now primarily a coal-burning plant, it’s one of the city’s biggest taxpayers, and it's capable of powering about half a million customers. For Tamara Wood, who lives down the street from the plant, it’s this sound. 

Jeff Cohen/WNPR

There's a broken down dam on the Farmington River, where anglers and paddlers like to have fun. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, it won't be there long.

It's called the Spoonville Dam, about a dozen miles up the Farmington from where it meets the Connecticut River. Its original purpose was to create hydro power over a century ago. But then, in 1955, overpowering floods washed out about a quarter of the dam -- leaving huge fragments down river. And for the past half century, the entire river has funneled through a very narrow, very fast moving breach.

Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR

Originally aired on NPR's "All Things Considered"

This month, more than a dozen homeless veterans will finally have a place to call their own thanks to the American Legion. A local Post in a small Connecticut town has been working for a decade on a unique project to create not transitional, but permanent supportive housing in their rural community. 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (Creative Commons)

Connecticut's Ash Trees have been spared infestation from an invasive insect so far this summer. But trees along the New York border with Connecticut haven't been as lucky.

Seth Tisue (Wikimedia Commons)

Delegates from more than 120 governments around the world gathered in a small seaside town in Uruguay this past week.  A Fairfield University Associate Professor was there to observe the continuing negotiations toward a global treaty reducing mercury emissions to the environment.

Effects of Sprawl on Water

Jul 5, 2012
fishhawk (Flickr Creative Commons)

Lee Epstein, in a recent piece for the Atlantic Cities blog, wrote that healthy watersheds and sustainable in-town development are directly linked: “what happens on the land affects the water downstream” across a wide area.

He says sprawling development damages water quality for the whole region. When we spread out our town development, rather than keeping it in areas that are already developed, there’s more waste and less vegetation to absorb it.

Epstein is with the Lands Program of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. 

Pesticides Found In Stamford's Well Water

Jul 5, 2012
YVSREDDY (Wikimedia Commons)

State and local health officials are asking residents with private wells to get their water tested for possible contamination. This time the sources aren’t the usual chemicals. As WNPR’s Neena Satija reports, they’re pesticides that were used in the soil decades ago, and are now believed to be a risk to human health.

Jan Ellen Spiegel

As Connecticut’s growing season heads towards its peak, farmers are facing greater risks from more pests and diseases than they’ve seen in recent years. The situation could turn even worse because, as WNPR's Jan Ellen Spiegel reports, a popular pest management program was cut at the last minute. And that means there will be fewer eyes on the fields, just when they may be needed most.

Sea Levels Rising Fastest in a "Northeast Hot Spot"

Jun 28, 2012
NASA (Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey say that in the past 20 years, the sea level has risen more in an area they call the "Northeast hot spot" than anywhere else on the continent, a finding they say was unexpected.

Wesleyan University

A new finding by a Wesleyan University professor may hold promise for people suffering Neurological Disorders like Alzheimer's and Epilepsy. WNPR's Ray Hardman speaks to Dr. John Kirn, Professor of Biology and Chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at Wesleyan University whose work focuses on the brain of a small songbird.

Joe Mabel (Wikimedia Commons)

More and more cohousing neighborhoods are cropping up nationwide. These are intentionally planned neighborhoods committed to a strong sense of community. A group of Connecticut residents have gathered together, hoping to create Connecticut's first cohousing neighborhood, called Green Haven.

Green Haven is in the planning stages. Jack Nork, one of the participating residents, joined us to tell us about it.

Revitalizing New Haven's Neighborhoods

Jun 19, 2012
Payton Chung, Creative Commons

New Haven was once known as the “model city” - for a massive urban redesign in the 1950s and 60s.

That renewal - 50 years later - has divided the city. Literally and emotionally.  Now, some of the damage is being repaired - a plan to reconnect a “downtown” crossing where homes and businesses were destroyed to make way for a highway.

prilfish, Flickr Creative Commons

The problem with invasive species is, of course, that they compete for resources with local species, and sometime they're a lot better at it. and sometimes they just incidentally wipe something out. 


Hartford officials say crews will be treating catch basins and wetland areas in the city with larvicide to control mosquitoes and the West Nile virus. The city's health director, Dr. Raul Pino, says a contractor will begin applying the liquid larvicide Monday, but no spraying is involved.

How Many "Miles-Per-Gallon" Does Your Building Get?

Jun 15, 2012
Невідомий / Creative Commons

Business leaders, policymakers, and advocates gathered in Stamford for a two-day summit on energy efficiency this week. High up on the agenda was finding a way to encourage businesses to track their own energy usage so they can reduce their emissions and save money. 

You probably know how many miles per gallon your car gets. But what about a similar kind of rating for the building you work in? Or the building you live in? Most of us have no idea, and it would be pretty hard to find out.

Digging Into Soil

Jun 15, 2012
Soil Science, Creative Commons

Last week on the show, we talked about big rocks, and Connecticut’s glacial history, but what about the tiny stones and sediment beneath our feet?

Yes, today, where we live, we’re digging in to soil.

According to one of our guests, soil is the foundation of everything. It’s where our food grows, of course, but did you know that soil stores more carbon than vegetation?

And do you know why our soil here in New England is so rocky and shallow?  What about our obsession with picture-perfect lawns and what that means for the soil below?

Chion Wolf

We take certain things for granted. Like the mountains, rivers and rocks around us.

So what made Connecticut look the way it looks today? As you kayak on the Connecticut River, drive over Talcott Mountain, or swim in Long Island Sound...there are millions of years of history underneath you.

Today we look at the geography and geology of Connecticut and New England. According to at least one geologist, we live on some of the most diverse land in the country. 

New Haven Wetlands Get a Boost

Jun 4, 2012
Uma Ramiah

Connecticut Fund for the Environment is working to restore 82 acres of wetlands to New Haven's West River and Edgewood parks. This is the largest urban tidal restoration project to date in New England.

John Champion -- of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment -- is trudging through the mud on a rainy Saturday in New Haven. He's followed by a few Connecticut lawmakers. Champion wants to show them a nearly century old tidal gate, soon to be replaced.

"These things date back to 1920."

Paved Paradise

Jun 4, 2012
Picabu (Wikimedia Commons)

Picture a parking lot....what comes to mind? A sea of asphalt, white lines, birds pecking at discarded food. Don’t forget the stray shopping carts, bright lighting at night, and blinding glare by day. Not the most pleasant place.

Turtles and Salmonella

Jun 4, 2012

The Connecticut Department of Health is warning Connecticut residents that small turtles can pass Salmonella bacteria to people.

The announcement comes in the midst of a nationwide outbreak linked to pet turtles that may be related to street vendors selling immature turtles. Although no cases have yet been identified in Connecticut, Dr. Randall Nelson, Public Health Veterinarian for the CT Department of Public Health, says that over 100 people in 27 states have become ill, with 60% of illness occurring in children under ten years old.