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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Finding a place to plug in 🚗⚡

This is the web version of our email newsletter, Out There! Sign up to get our 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.

It’s Thursday, September 21. It’s nearly the fall equinox. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • Leaf peeping forecast
  • Migrating dragonflies
  • Furry goats, rabbits, and lots of sheep

But first,

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.

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Adding more EV chargers

A painting from Claude Monet of ships on tan waters. On top, a graphic of an electric vehicle charging station.
Claude Monet / Public domain, U.S. Department of Energy
Vermont has some of the most EV charging stations in the country relative to its population, but there are still large areas with no place to plug in.

In the last year, the number of EVs on the road nearly doubled, from 6,000 to 10,000 vehicles, and Vermont added 55 charging stations, totaling nearly 400. But portions of the state still lack many public chargers, like Essex County, which only has three public charging stations and Orange County, which only has seven.

  • 🐢 Building fast charging stations is slow – these are called DC Fast Chargers, and they can almost fully recharge an electric vehicle battery in less than an hour. But, while the state got funding from the Volkswagen settlement to install 17 more of these chargers in 2020, only 4 have been built so far.
  • 🛣 The state has a goal to build one DC Fast Charge station within one mile of every interstate exit. Vermont has 55 of these chargers in total, and would require several dozen more.
  • 🏘️ A state program provides funding for builders to install charging stations at affordable housing units with multiple dwellings. Dozens of new stations are in the process of being built. 
  • ⚡ The state has a long way to reach its lofty goal of over 125K EVs by 2030 – according to federal estimates, it would need to more than double its current EV charging infrastructure.

In other news


🍁🍂 Promising leaf peeping: Lots of rain can stress trees out, leaving them with waterlogged roots and more susceptible to disease. Despite the wet summer, the state’s forests are looking healthy this year, according to aerial surveys by state foresters. The more cool nights and sunny days ahead, the better the fall colors will be.

😞 Rare plants in trouble after July floods: One plant in particular, Jesup’s milk-vetch is only found in a handful of locations in the world. Of over 70 plants at one site, only four survived the floods this year. “We might lose this,” says Vermont’s retired state botanist. Many of the state’s sticky false asphodels, a flower recently discovered to be carnivorous, were also decimated by flooding. At one site, botanists counted fewer than 10 flowering stems, down from nearly 100 in June.

♻️ Massachusetts says no buying plastic bottles: Gov. Maura Healy announced earlier this week that Mass. state agencies aren’t allowed to purchase any single-use plastic bottles, according to WBUR. It’s the first state in the country to do so.

🛰️ Blooms in Missisquoi Bay: A NASA satellite snapped a shot of phytoplankton swirling across a large swath of the top of Lake Champlain earlier this month. It's an area largely surrounded by farmland, where phosphorus runoff can feed blooms. There have been several reports of cyanobacteria in the area in recent days.

In your backyard

An illustration of a dragonfly on a white background, with colorful sections of text on top.
Laura Nakasaka
/
Vermont Public
Along with birds and monarch butterflies, some dragonflies also migrate in the fall. It takes several generations for the insects to complete a full migration.

Get out there

🌊 White water weekend: Typically, every fall the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers releases a TON of water from a dam on the West River. It makes for excellent whitewater paddling. Get in a kayak, raft or watch the action Sept. 23 and 24 while the river is running at Jamaica State Park. The campground is fully booked, but you can visit for the day for $5 per adult (or check out a state park pass from your local library to get in for free).

🥕 Garden party: Behind the Barton Public Library is a community garden for the town. There, on Saturday, Sept. 23, you can ask All Things Gardening host Charlie Nardozzi your burning questions and tour the garden to learn about knotweed removal, winter composting and seed saving. Meet at 1 p.m., with a suggested donation of $10. Organizers note that the garden is located at the bottom of a hill – email if you might need assistance with access.

🐑 BAAAck again: It’s the 35th year of the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. There will be Nigora goats, Angora rabbits, border collies and lots of sheep. Also, botanical dyeing workshops, wheel spinning demonstrations, contests for handmade sweaters, rugs, felted wool, along with dozens of vendors. Tickets are $8.

🐦‍ Birding at the Bird Museum: Meet at the Birds of Vermont Museum in Huntington at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30. Open to all birders, but they ask that you bring your own binoculars. For more, the site eBird put together a list of regularly occurring bird walks across the state.

🧤 Riverbank cleanup: Friends of the Winooski River are hosting a morning trash pick up in Plainfieldalong two miles of river. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Plainfield Recreation Field on Saturday, Sept. 30. Wear old sneakers and heavy duty gloves, and be prepared to get wet and dirty.

One last thing

An illustration of a black shoe stepping on an orange worm on the ground
The British Library
Jumping worms, which are becoming more common in Vermont, can cause a lot of problems for gardeners.

🥴 BATTLING JUMPING WORMS

Jumping worms are a menace – they erode and dry out soil, eat seeds and insects, decimate flowers and vegetables and are the stuff of horror movies for many gardeners. They arrived in the region in the last decade and have rapidly spread across Vermont. Here’s how to identify and (hopefully) get rid of them:

🕵️ How to ID:

  • If your soil is covered in what looks like coffee grounds, those are worm castings (worm poop). Lots of castings is a sign of jumping worms.
  • Find a worm: if it has a white or lighter-colored band of tissue — called a "clitellum" that encircles the entire worm near the head – then it’s a jumping worm. If the band does not go all the way around, is closer to the middle of its body and is more pink, it's an earthworm.

🌶️ A spicy recipe to deter jumping worms:

  • Mix 1/3 cup of ground yellow mustard seed in a gallon of water and pour onto the soil where you are seeing worm castings or the worms themselves.
  • This concoction will irritate the worms so they rise to the surface. Once they do, pick them out of the soil and place them in a black garbage bag. Lay the bag out onto a driveway or in a sunny spot for a day or so, then discard the bag.

To keep the worms out of your garden, knock off all the soil before planting anything new. The worms will die in your compost pile as long as it reaches 130 degrees for three days.

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

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Thanks for reading! If you have ideas for events we should feature, critters, fungi or plants you want to learn more about, or other feedback, we'd love to hear from you! Just email us.

Credits: This week’s edition was put together by Lexi Krupp, Corey Dockser, and Mary Engisch with editing by Sophie Stephens and Kevin Trevellyan, and lots of help from the Vermont Public team, including graphics by Laura Nakasaka.

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