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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Smoke, ticks, rabies vaccines and rhubarb

Hello and welcome to the first edition of our new newsletter, Out There! Look no further for a weekly dose of all things environment — from creatures you might encounter on your next stroll, to a critical look at the state's energy transition, plus ways to take part in community science and a roundup of local outdoor events.

Here’s what’s on deck this week:

  • A smoky start to spring 
  • 5 tips for keeping ticks away
  • It’s raining rabies vaccines 
  • The tastiest early-season vegetable

Enter your email to sign up for Out There
Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


What's new with climate action

 Photo of the statehouse with nature graphics overlayed
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public

We know that meaningful climate solutions require system-level changes – like state policy. So what happened in the Vermont Statehouse this year to move the needle?

Here’s a rundown:

  • Affordable Heat Act: Arguably the biggest climate bill of the session (and the most controversial) the legislation aims to reduce emissions from heating buildings – that’s currently the biggest source of greenhouse gases in the state.
  • Biodiversity bill: Lots of scientists say climate change and other human activity is causing a devastating loss of global biodiversity. So some countries are committing to conserving 30% of their land and water by 2030. Vermont wants to get to 50% by 2050. We don’t yet know what the governor is going to do on this policy!
  • 100% Renewable Electricity by 2050? Lawmakers want to look at what it would cost to make the state’s utilities source ALL of their electricity from renewable resources (or at least buy credits associated with them) by 2050. They’re also mulling whether more of our electricity should come from inside our state

In other news...

 Informative graphic on tick safety
Laura Nakasaka
Vermont Public

  • 🦋 Introducing the bog elfin. After a 22-year quest, a Vermont biologist has found one of the tiniest and rarest butterflies in North America… right here in a bog! The bog elfin lays its eggs on black spruce trees and only takes flight a few weeks of the year.
  • 🚁 Nearly 40,000 caramel-scented rabies vaccines landed around Burlington last month. They were tossed from helicopters, vehicles, and by foot. That’s as the USDA tries to wipe out a local rabies outbreak spreading in raccoons and skunks in Chittenden County. If you see a wild animal acting strangely or you’re worried about a rabies exposure, call the Vermont Rabies Hotline: 1-800-472-2437.

In your backyard

Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)

Reed Nye
Craig Reeves has been growing rhubarb in Jericho in his garden for 40 years. He sells what he can't eat to places like City Market and Shy Guy Gelato in Burlington. Since he started, he’s sold over 6,000 pounds!

Get out there

  • 🎣 Fish for free: On Saturday, June 10 you don’t need a license to cast a line anywhere in the state. Celebrate on the opening day of bass fishing season at your favorite river, lake or pond (Vermont has over 800!) or head to a free fishing festival in Grand Isle.
  • 🐞 Celebrate creatures big and small: The North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier is hosting a Biodiversity Jamboree, also on June 10, with activities like bird banding and hunting for river bugs and slime molds. End the day with a talk by Doug Talamy about how to support bugs and birds in your backyard.
  • 🦅 Birding, it does a body good: On Friday June 9, the Nature Museum at Grafton is hosting a talk by Bridget Butler about how searching for birds can help your mental health. The next morning, she’ll be leading a slow birding outing from the museum.
  • 📣 Make your voice heard: Tell the state what you think about proposed trapping regulations, like a 50-foot setback requirement from most roads and trails. Email comments to with the subject line “trapping and coyote regulations” any time this month or attend on of the public hearings on June 20-22.

One last thing

Spring migration is nearly over, but you can check out a forecast of birds expected to fly overhead on any night of migration season. Like at the end of May, over 2.5 MILLION birds soared over Vermont in a single night!

Get in touch

If you have ideas for events we should feature, critters or plants you want to learn more about, or other feedback on this new venture, we'd love to hear from you! Click here to get in touch.

Enter your email to sign up for Out There
Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


Out There is put together by Lexi Krupp, Abagael Giles, Joia Putnoi and Brittany Patterson, with lots of help from the Vermont Public team including graphics by Laura Nakasaka and Elodie Reed. Special thanks to Reed Nye. The Statehouse graphic used images from Ken Wiedemann, Dole08, BackyardProduction, Miguel Guasch Fuxa and Neil Robichaud from iStock and John Gange of Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

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