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Vermont Public’s weekly dose of all things environment.

Out There: Marching for the planet

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 Friday, May 31. Here’s what’s on deck:

  • A flower last seen in 1916
  • Almost everyone has AC now
  • Free fishing day

But first,

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Vermont Public's biweekly dose of all things environment.


Students at the Statehouse

A collage of students holding signs and a gold-domed building with a green color block background and blue circle on the left.
Photos from Abagael Giles (Vermont Public) and Vermont Youth Lobby / graphic by Sophie Stephens (Vermont Public)
Over 40 students skipped school last week to march to the Capitol building.

Last week, over 40 students gathered at the Statehouse, calling on Gov. Phil Scott to support climate action. They took buses from Brattleboro, Essex Junction, and St. Johnsbury to meet at Montpelier High School before marching to the Capitol. Some students have been coming for years, as part of the Vermont Youth Lobby. Here's what one student was thinking about this year:

☀️ Getting the state to 100% renewable energy with more new renewables built in Vermont and New England. This was the plan in a bill that was passed by lawmakers, but vetoed by the governor because of its cost (he had his own plan for carbon-free electricity that would have included out-of-state nuclear power and fewer new renewables).

It has a strong chance of an override, along with two other major climate bills the governor is expected to veto, which some students are pushing for, despite the upfront costs. “There's no cost I wouldn't pay to have the experience of showing my grandchildren what skiing is,” said graduating senior Django Grace from Brattleboro.

🪧 Being an activist can feel embarrassing: Protesting, holding signs and chanting can be isolating and uncomfortable. But for Grace, it’s worth it. “At the end of the day, it's essential. We're doing this because it's survival.”

🙏 On staying hopeful: Getting outside helps. Grace has a river outside his home he visits often. So does sticking with the facts — there’s scientific consensus that humanity is not doomed, and there is a hope if we engage with climate change.

In other news

🌬️ Two-thirds of Vermont households use air conditioning or heat pumps: That’s the latest data from the Department of Energy. And it’s a big increase from a couple decades ago – in 1997 under half of households in New England had AC. (There isn’t historical data for Vermont alone, but 85% of households in the region have indoor cooling now.) That change comes as summers have warmed by about 1 degree in the state since the early ‘90s.

🌱 A delicate white flower was thought to be extinct in Vermont: It’s called false mermaid-weed – it grows along floodplains, is only visible for a short window in the spring, and hasn’t been seen in the state since 1916. That was until this spring, when the state botanist spotted the flower in a photo sent by a colleague. She’s documented a population in Addison County that could be home to thousands of the plants.

🐻 “All Vermonters need to think of themselves as living in bear country.” That’s according to the state’s lead bear biologist, as a rash of bears have been reported venturing near homes in search of food. There’s the usual advice: take down bird feeders, put electric fencing around beehives and chicken coops, and compost food scraps in a hard bin. Another tip – soak a rag in ammonia and leave it in a bucket next to your compost.

In your backyard

A cartoon of an American toad showing their lifecycle - from eggs to tadpiles to toadlets to breeding adults.
Laura Nakasaka
Vermont Public
American toads usually return to the same pond to breed. They can recognize their siblings, and will avoid mating with them.

Get out there

🪶 Birding around the state:

  • Look for warblers and grassland birds at a farm in Franklin County. The walk will go through fields, forests and wetlands and focus on how farmers are taking steps to improve habitat for birds and other wildlife. Saturday, June 8, from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m. in Fairfield. Register ahead of time. 
  • Every year, birders meet at conserved land in Derby for a walk pointing out habitat, sightings and songs. Saturday, June 8 starting at  8 a.m. Open to all abilities. Register ahead of time.

🎣No license needed: On Saturday, June 8 anyone, anywhere in the state can fish for free. The state has a list of fishing hotspots and is also hosting a festival from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. at a hatchery in Grand Isle to give kids and anyone new to fishing a chance to catch trout. They’ll have fishing rods, reels, and bait available for free.

🦅🍄🌳🐝 Summer nature festival in Montpelier: The North Branch Nature Center and Vermont Center for Ecostudies are hosting a jam-packed day of outings and workshops Saturday, June 8 starting at 9 a.m. Watch a bird banding demonstration, survey river bugs, collect native seeds and wild edibles, learn about mosses and more. There’s also a native plant sale, live birds of prey, and a keynote talk from a state rep.

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


Thank you for reading! Don’t hesitate to reach out, we'd love to hear from you. Just email us.

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

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