July 19, 2018

Composting course Sept. 26

The UVM Extension master gardener office is offering a six-week online composting basics course starting Sept. 26.

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Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence winners recognized

Recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were recognized with a ceremony Aug. 4 at the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. [Read more…]

Seeking big tree champions

Observer contributed photo Chittenden County Forester Ethan Tapper is seeking nominees for the biggest trees in the county

Observer contributed photo
Chittenden County Forester Ethan Tapper is seeking nominees for the biggest
trees in the county

By Ethan Tapper

Special to the Observer

When I was growing up, Windham County Forester Bill Guenther used to lead a “Big Tree Tour” every year. At the time, I hadn’t yet fallen into my current tree-crazy state, and I never attended one of Bill’s tours. [Read more…]

Progress reported on lake phosphorous

Observer photo by Jason Starr Lake Champlain as seen from South Burlington near Red Rocks Park. The USDA reports progress on meeting Lake Champlain’s phosphorous reduction targets.

Observer photo by Jason Starr
Lake Champlain as seen from South Burlington near Red Rocks Park. The USDA reports progress on meeting Lake Champlain’s phosphorous reduction targets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Vermont announced last week that data it has examined indicates a reduction of farm phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain. [Read more…]

Ag Agency steps up farmer water quality assistance

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is seeking proposals for its Clean Water Initiative – a grant program of the Vermont Clean Water Act of 2015 – from organizations that can assist farmers in installing vegetative stream buffers, gully erosion measures and grazing systems to exclude livestock from surface waters. [Read more…]

Armadillos clinch another one

Third baseman Glenn Bombardier cuts the ball off to make the play during the Williston Armadillos win over the Randolph Jays on Sunday

Third baseman Glenn Bombardier cuts the ball off to make the play during the Williston Armadillos win over the Randolph Jays on Sunday

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High School golf moves to fall

High school golfers across the state are facing a quick turnaround. After celebrating the state championship match in the spring, the next season opens this week as the high school golf season transitions to the fall. The Vermont Principals’ Association announced that golf was moving to the fall season in February, and teams are now hitting the links to prepare for the 2017 season.

The new schedule will conclude with the state championship matches in October.

New CVU coaches carry high hopes for 2017

 Rob Cole, pictured during a recent practice, takes over the CVU boys soccer program this season.

Rob Cole, pictured during a recent practice, takes over the CVU boys soccer program this season.

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Teams sought for Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Observer courtesy photo The Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont is recruiting teams for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept. 17 at the Shelburne Museum.

Observer courtesy photo
The Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont is recruiting teams for the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sept. 17 at the
Shelburne Museum.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Vermont in Williston will be holding the annual Champlain Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. on the grounds of the Shelburne Museum and is recruiting community members to form teams for the event. Registration is available at alz. org/walk or by calling 316-3839.

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Fish & Wildlife Dept. initiates study of threatened ratsnake

Observer courtesy photo Hydrogeologist Cindy Sprague of Huntington displays the species of threatened ratsnake that the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife will be studying over the next three years

Observer courtesy photo
Hydrogeologist Cindy Sprague of Huntington displays the species of
threatened ratsnake that the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife will be
studying over the next three years

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has initiated a threeyear study of an isolated population of Eastern Ratsnakes, a species that is listed as “threatened” under the state’s endangered species law. Researchers plan to surgically implant radio transmitters in two ratsnakes.

They hope the implanted snakes will lead them back to their communal den site, helping to focus future land conservation efforts. The project is being overseen by state wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett and Jim Andrews, coordinator of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. “Ratsnakes, as their name implies, eat rats, mice and other small mammals, and help to control rodent populations,” Blodgett said.

Rodents cause millions of dollars of damage to crops each year nationwide, and are the major carrier of over 60 diseases that are transmissible to humans, including Lyme disease, according to the U.S. U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Some people fear snakes, but given the threats that unchecked rodents can pose, people are actually much safer with healthy snake populations around,” Blodgett said.

The northern population of ratsnakes in Addison County is isolated from another Vermont population centered in Rutland County. This study will provide information for the conservation of the species. Hydrogeologist Cindy Sprague of Huntington is the principal investigator on the project. She has been studying herpetology for several years and is a longtime volunteer with the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas. “Ratsnakes are my favorite snake because of their large size and docile nature,” said Sprague. “They’re not venomous, eat plenty of rodents and are harmless to humans.”