A new program about environmental awareness kicks off in western Massachusetts today. The US Forest Service along with the University of Massachusetts, the city of Springfield, and the nonprofit Regreen Springfield will hold a series of workshops to highlight the importance of trees, birds and water in urban neighborhoods. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with David Bloniarz, a researcher with the U.S. Forest Service. To listen, click here.
News from the Media
Massachusetts honeybees are disappearing without a trace. Hives are left barren of bees, save for a small cluster of larvae, nurse bees, and an abandoned queen.The question is: Why?
Tuesday on Beacon Hill, scientists and lawmakers convened to explore the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder and to seek ways to protect decimated bee populations.
“We saw a 40 percent loss in bees this year in Worcester County,” Kenneth Warchol, program director of the Worcester County Beekeepers Association, said in an interview. “Bees are like canaries in a coal mine — they’re sending us a message that something’s wrong here.”
The USDA recently awarded a five-year, $241,000 grant to a team of food science researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to create a graduate training program that will combine laboratory research and practical application to help producers and processors improve the safety of fresh produce in the food supply.
Faculty and graduate students offered presentations on a variety of research topics including growing malt barley, cover crops in potato production, hardwood biochar in agricultural soils, effects of bee disease on hedgerow plantings, dual-purpose cover crops and much more.
The 358-acre agronomy and vegetable farm conducts research on vegetable crops, agronomic and bioenergy crops, organic agriculture and pasture. The farm has both a student-run vegetable project as well as a project that researches cattle, offering students hands-on experience with livestock. Faculty, extension staff and graduate students conduct applied research and are assisted by technicians, field staff and undergraduate students. (6/24/15 WWLP Channel 22)
Bridges get a lot of attention when they fail, but scientists are working to eliminate what they say can be an even greater scourge, because of their sheer numbers and their effect on wildlife: culverts.
These passages that carry smaller streams under roads and driveways number in the thousands across the East, and their importance came into sharp focus during storms Irene and Sandy in the past few years, when floodwaters washed many of them out and cut off access for days or weeks. (6/21/15 Burlington Free Press, 6/8/15 News Office)
Why send a tick to college?
Because the University of Massachusetts Amherst has a special program for them, under the direction of Stephen Rich, professor of microbiology and director of the laboratory of medical zoology there. Rich is wrapping up a year’s sabbatical on Cape, during which he and his family have been living in Centerville (“within walking distance of Four Seas”). He gave a talk about his tick research June 11 at the Waquoit Bay Reserve Visitor Center in Falmouth.(6/19/15 Barnstable Patriot)
AMHERST — As pollinators across the world — particularly the honey bee — are succumbing to diseases and colony collapses, the government of one bee-loving country is trying to create a day to celebrate their worldwide importance.
Janko Božič, a professor of animal behavior and beekeeping at Ljubljana University in Slovenia, visited the University of Massachusetts on Monday to promote World Bee Day, which he hopes will be established on May 20 starting in 2016. (6/16/15 Hampshire Gazette, Channel 22).
f the proposed Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline is built across 35 miles of Franklin County, it could affect a greater share of fragile landscape than in other parts of the state.
Here, at least 42 percent of the pipeline’s total Massachusetts length is along environmentally sensitive regions and aquatic buffers, states a report by the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The report on the permanent effects of the project on protected open space emphasizes lands dedicated to agriculture and conservation, primary habitat for rare species, wetlands, wildlife habitat and communities of biodiversity. (6/11/15 Hampshire Gazette)
AMHERST, Mass. – A partnership of federal and state agencies, plus nonprofit conservation groups today launched a new, uniform protocol for citizen scientist volunteers and professional fish and wildlife managers to use in assessing the state of stream-crossing culverts in 13 Northeast states. The assessments will help identify culverts, for instance, that block turtles, trout, salamanders and other wildlife from moving up and down streams.
Scott Jackson, professor of environmental conservation at UMass Amherst, which will host a database, says, “We know that these ecosystems must be reconnected to be healthy. As climate change alters habitat conditions, some vulnerable species like Eastern brook trout and Blanding’s turtles really need to be able to move freely. This new aquatic connectivity collaborative will bring people together in a unified network to address the issue in a coordinated, collaborative and systematic way.” (6/9/15 Red Lake Nation News, News Office Release)
Joe Shoenfeld calls it “an attitudinal shift.”
That’s how he chose to describe a movement, for lack of a better term, that has made terms like ‘fresh,’ ‘healthy,’ ‘organic,’ ‘sustainable,’ and especially ‘local’ not just adjectives that dominate the lexicon — and also the marketing materials — of those who grow, sell, and prepare food, but also part of this region’s culture.
“I think we’ve definitely moved beyond something that could be called a fad or a trend regarding local purchasing and local food,” Shoenfeld, associate director for the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment in the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst, told BusinessWest. 6/2/15 (Business West)