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News from the Media

  • Pick Your Own Apples: It's Been a Hard Year for New England Farmers

    October 3, 2023

    Jon Clements, UMass Extension, is quoted in an article about how this year’s late spring freeze and summer flooding impacted apple trees. “We are encouraging people to be patient with the harvest,” he says, adding that the apples still taste great. He reports that there has been a 25% apple crop loss in Massachusetts (with farms in the western and northern parts of the state faring the worst), increased diseases, and more apples in higher branches than lower ones.

  • The State of Solar: Western Massachusetts Solar Forums Led by UMass Amherst

    September 24, 2023

    The Daily Hampshire Gazette details the Western Massachusetts Solar Forums organized by the UMass Clean Energy Extension, Sen. Jo Comerford, Rep. Mindy Domb, and other solar stakeholders and specialists. Forums included discussion of where the state stands in terms of solar development, land used for solar panels, and community-owned solar projects. 

  • How Mounting Financial Pressures Are Greening Real Estate

    September 23, 2023

    L. Carl Fiocchi, environmental conservation, is referenced in this article about the move toward more sustainable and efficient buildings.

  • Invasive Plants are Still for Sale as Garden Ornamentals, Research Shows

    September 21, 2023

    Research on invasive plants by Bethany Bradley, environmental conservation, and a team of UMass Amherst ecologists is cited in an article on ornamental plants to avoid. The 2021 study found 61 percent of 1,285 ornamental plant species identified as invasive in the U.S. remained available to purchase.

  • Massachusetts Cranberry Growers Look to Tech Solutions for Climate Concerns

    September 21, 2023

    The Cranberry Research Station, with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, is investigating using larger, agricultural drones that can apply agricultural chemicals to deal with climate change challenges. 

  • As the Climate Changes, Pressure Is Growing to Make Buildings More Efficient

    September 20, 2023

    L. Carl Fiocchi, environmental conservation, provides local and national context to how real estate and construction have responded to climate change in a piece about making buildings more efficient. He says that, nationally, the real estate industry has yet to truly respond to climate change, but state and local efforts have been made. “The hope is that the silver lining in this enormously black cloud is that [regulations in cities drive] states to start adopting these codes,” he says.

  • America's Wealthiest 10% Responsible for Nearly Half of US Emissions, Study Finds

    September 19, 2023

    Research by Jared Starr, environmental conservation, reports that Americans who are in the top 10% of earners are responsible for 40% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Previous studies look at the emissions tied to consumption (food, fuel, etc.), but this study, published in the journal PLOS Climate, evaluated the emissions used in generating people’s incomes, including investment income. The findings suggest an income-based carbon tax, rather than a consumption-based tax, could incentivize companies to decarbonize. 

  • The State of Solar: In the Second of Four Forums at UMass, Experts Discuss Challenges of Siting Solar Facilities

    September 17, 2023

    The second in the series of four Western Massachusetts Solar Forum events, organized by UMass Extension, State Sen. Jo Comerford, Rep. Mindy Domb, took place at UMass Amherst on Sept. 12, focusing on solar energy and land use. Clem Clay, Director of the Extension Agriculture Program, comments on dual-use solar, which allows land to be used for farmland and solar panels, explaining that “The tradeoffs between agricultural production and energy production are going to vary with both the farm-related factors and the solar factors … Some crops may succeed in that setting, but farmers will typically lose flexibility once panels are installed … [and] the benefits of solar revenue may or may not flow to those who are responsible for agriculture production on the farm.” Additional forums are scheduled for Sept. 19 and 26.

  • Looking like a Washout? Foliage Forecasters Say Weather May Take a Little Bright out of Fall Display

    September 16, 2023

    Rick Harper, a professor of urban forestry at the University of Massachusetts Extension, said everything can change with a few cold nights. “I don’t put a lot of stock in the forecasts,” he said.

  • The Imported Kousa Dogwood Was Once Hailed as Substitute for Dying Native Dogwood Trees. Now It's Considered an Invasive Species

    September 14, 2023

    A gardening columnist turns to Bethany Bradley, environmental conservation, for insights on invasive species. Bradley explains that there is often a lag between when a plant species is introduced into a new home and when it begins to behave invasively.

  • Earth Matters: Can We Adapt to Increasing Intensity of Rain Events?

    September 14, 2023

    Christine Hatch, climate sciences, writes about adapting to the increasing intensity of rain events in an “Earth Matters” column for the Gazette. 

  • A New Invasive, the Elm Zigzag Fly is Already Ruining Elm Trees in Berkshire County

    September 9, 2023

    UMass Entomologist Tawny Simisky was interviewed about damage caused by the elm zigzag fly to Elm trees in Berkshire County. The elm zigzag fly, an invasive from Japan and China, was discovered in Massachusetts a few weeks ago. Simisky explained the life cycle of the fly, why it is so damaging to forests, and the role that humans play in the invasion of the insect. “Human-assisted spread with any invasive insect is really how they move around so extra fast,” Simisky said.

  • New England Dams May Not Be Built for Climate-Induced Storms

    September 7, 2023

    Christine Hatch, Earth, geographic and climate sciences, is interviewed about the safety of New England dams, considering stronger and wetter storms caused by climate change. “The reality of climate change is that whatever we thought was safe enough when we built it isn’t safe enough anymore,” Hatch says. “There isn’t enough money to upsize all those or retrofit them.”

  • Massachusetts Wetlands Protected Despite Supreme Court Ruling

    September 7, 2023

    Scott Jackson, environmental conservation, spoke to local NPR about wetland protection in Massachusetts, despite diminished federal wetland protection following a Supreme Court decision. “Massachusetts is fortunate in that it has probably the most protective Wetlands Protection Act in the country, and the Supreme Court decision has no effect on state laws,” he says. "But the question going forward will be what condition will those wetlands be in, and can we protect the quality of those wetlands?”

  • What's Wrong with Local Lilacs? Nick Brazee Has the Answer.

    September 1, 2023

    Extension plant pathologist Nick Brazee discusses the recent foliar blight affecting area lilac trees on the September 1st episode of The Fabulous 413. The blight is caused by a fungal pathogen exacerbated by this year’s wet and humid summer. Brazee says, “As bad as it looks, it really is more of a cosmetic issue than a serious health issue. We’re so late in the growing season and lilacs are so hardy they should be fine going into the next season.”

  • Is It Time for a Carbon Tax on Investors?

    August 31, 2023

    Jared Starr, environmental conservation, appeared on a podcast to discuss his study that found that Americans who are in the top 10% of earners are responsible for 40% of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions. "I think our attention really needs to be on the investor class and how we can shift their behavior. If we make it unprofitable to create carbon emissions, they will find other ways to profit," Starr emphasizes. 

  • A Longer Fruit-Growing Season in the Northeast, but with Considerable Trade-offs

    August 30, 2023

    Jon Clements, UMass Extension, is quoted in an article about the challenges of climate change on fruit trees. “Right now, with some of the difficulties we’re facing with the changing climate, we have new diseases moving in. We have new insect pests; I have to spend a lot of time just dealing with that and making sure that we can successfully grow what we currently have,” Clements says.

  • Pick-Your-Own Apples Will Be Hard To Come by in Berkshire County This Fall

    August 30, 2023

    Jon Clements, UMass Extension, is quoted in an article about how a frost in May damaged the apple crop in Berkshire County. “Depending on the elevation of the orchard, they’re in pretty tough shape,” Clements says. “Other counties east of here, growers have a full crop. This is a real difficult subject because there’s plenty of apples out there, but it … depends where you are.”

  • Giving the Gift of Land

    August 28, 2023

    An article on including land trusts in estate planning cites a report co-authored by Paul Catanzaro, Environmental Conservation, on conservation-based estate planning in Massachusetts.

  • Julian Garcia Walther, a Ph.D. Student in Environmental Conservation, Received Honorable Mention in the 2023 American Ornithological Society Student Presentation Awards

    August 25, 2023

    Julian Garcia Walther received an honorable mention in the 2023 American Ornithological Society Student Presentation Awards given to students who presented outstanding posters or oral presentations at the society’s annual meeting.