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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Vermont’s climate future

This is the web version of our email newsletter, Out There! Sign up to get our bi-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, November 16. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • New tick in town
  • How farmers can fight mosquitoes
  • Game supper night

But first,

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


A big climate report

Water covers a paved road
Nina Keck
Vermont Public
The country’s fifth National Climate Assessment was released this week. It has nearly 500 authors from every state in the country and is “the authoritative, definitive assessment of how our country is doing with climate change,” according to White House officials.

A big federal report came out this week spelling out how climate change is impacting the country. It’s designed to assist policymaking and local planning, and comes with interactive maps to look at future climate projections on a fine scale. The report has nearly 500 authors, including Vermont State Climatologist and UVM Professor Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux. Here are some takeaways for the state:

Just a note, the numbers from the assessment referenced below are under a global warming scenario of 3.6 degrees F, or 2 degrees C, above pre-industrial levels – the average from 1851 to 1900. The planet has already warmed about 2 degrees F since that time.

  • ⛈️☀️ Vermont will get more precipitation in the coming decades, but the state is still vulnerable to periods of drought.
    • You might remember that before the July floods, much of Vermont was in a drought. The same was true before Tropical Storm Irene inundated the state in 2011. “We go from droughts to floods in a matter of days, in a matter of weeks,” said Dupigny-Giroux.
    • More extreme storms: the amount of rain expected to fall on the wettest days will increase between 20% to 25% across the state compared with recent conditions (from 1991 to 2020). The Northeast has already experienced a big increase in extreme precipitation
  • 🌡️ Vermont is expected to warm more than other parts of the country. Average temperatures in Vermont are projected to increase by 4 degrees F, compared with recent conditions.
  • ☃️ The number of days below freezing is projected to decrease by about 3 weeks in most of the state, compared with recent conditions.

In other news

🔎 The search for a new tick: It’s called the longhorned tick, or cattle tick. They feed on deer, sheep, cows, and pets, and can eventually kill their prey through blood loss. The parasites were first reported domestically in New Jersey in 2017, and have since spread to New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and other regions. State officials are asking farmers and hunters in southern Vermont to be on the lookout for the ticks, and to send photos or tick samples to the state.

🌎 100% renewable electricity by 2030: Vermont already uses less carbon to generate electricity than any state in the U.S. — less than 10% of the state’s electricity comes from fossil fuels. But a group of lawmakers wants to require utilities to derive all of their electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. They’ll submit draft legislation to their colleagues in the statehouse by early December.

🚜 State gets a tire slicer for farmers: The idea is for Vermont farmers to cut down on mosquitoes and the diseases they carry on the landscape. In the winter, dairy farmers often use old tires to weigh down tarps covering winter feed for their cows. But those tires offer a prime breeding ground for mosquitoes, especially the species that carry West Nile. So last month, state workers cut up thousands of tire sidewalls and offered them to farmers for free. Next, they plan to lend the tire slicer directly to farmers.

🦌 78 moose: That’s how many animals hunters took from Essex County this season after the state released more moose hunting permits than it has in years. The state upped the number of permits in an effort to bring down moose numbers in the northeast corner of the state, where winter ticks have been a big issue. The idea is that fewer moose will help stop the spread of ticks and keep the animals healthy, according to state biologists. Meanwhile, the regular deer hunting season goes until the last weekend in November.

In your backyard

A drawing of green leaves and yellow flowers
Laura Nakasaka
Vermont Public
Witch hazel is one of the few plants in Vermont that flowers in fall. It’s long been used as medicine, and European settlers used its branches as divining rods to search for water underground.

Get out there

🥧 Try a moose pie: The game supper night in Danville has been taking place for over 100 years on the Thursday before Thanksgiving. You can sample an assortment of meat pies from bear to venison, rabbit, and wild turkey, along with homemade fruit pies too. Dinner is served at 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm, tonight, Thursday, Nov. 16. Tickets are $18 for adults; call to reserve a spot or takeout.

👪 A family walk in the woods: The Bonnyville Education Center and Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro are offering guided Saturday morning walks throughout the winter. A naturalist will lead the groups in themed explorations, geared towards families with kids under 12. On Saturday, Nov. 18, the focus is on how animals prepare for winter. The walks are free, but the organizers ask families to preregister.

🦃 Turkey trot: If you want to run or walk in public dressed like a large bird, this is the Thanksgiving tradition for you. Courses are typically 5 kilometers, or just over 3 miles, on the morning of Thanksgiving, Nov. 23. Here’s a sampling of turkey trots across the state:

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


Thank you for reading! If you have ideas for creatures we should feature, events you think we should know about, or any other feedback, we'd love to hear from you. Just hit reply to this email.

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

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