Forestry | New Hampshire Public Radio

Forestry

Martin Bamford, https://bit.ly/3lRH8BU

What if, instead of lowering emissions, a large company could pay someone else to do it instead? That's the basic idea behind carbon offsets: a market-based approach to buying and selling reductions in atmospheric carbon dioxide. In this episode, Sam talks our producers through the scientific hoops required to verify one type of popular carbon offset (planting or conserving trees) to better understand whether offsets are a solid piece of the climate puzzle - or sort of a scam. 

Plus, we remember a singular feline: Marty, the Mount Washington mouser. 

UNH Agricultural Experiment Station

Certain New England tree species might not grow as fast after severe drought years like this one, according to new research from the University of New Hampshire.

The findings come from an ongoing study on plots of red oak and white pine trees – both key timber species – in Durham and the White Mountains.

Nearly all regions of the three northern New England states are experiencing some level of abnormally dry conditions right now, with some areas in a moderate to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. And that's leading to the potential for wildfires.

Bow Fire Department / Facebook

Update, 5 p.m. Wednesday: Concord fire officials say the Merrimack River island fire was extinguished this afternoon, though "hot spots" may flare up in the dry weather forecast for the coming days. 

OC Aerials / facebook.com/OCAerials603

New Hampshire’s drought is not expected to improve any time soon, and officials say it’s continuing to create prime conditions for possible wildfires.

Seventy-two percent of New Hampshire is now in a severe drought, with moderate drought in the southwestern and far northern part of the state. The drought also stretches across New England, with extreme conditions in far northern Maine and on New England’s south coast.

Ken Watson / KenWatson.net

Update, Wednesday, Sept. 16: The risk of wildfires was “very high” Wednesday in New Hampshire and Maine. Officials say they've had reports of several small, deep-burning fires in the southern and central part of New Hampshire.

Smoke from Western wildfires is also still wafting over New England. Forecasters say it will make for a colorful sunset but isn't yet affecting air quality. 

Jerry and Marcy Monkman / Trust For Public Lands

The state is out with a draft 10-year plan for managing its forests, with a new focus on recreation and climate change impacts. 

The Division of Forests and Lands updates this plan every decade. The new 2020 draft plan is out for public comment until Oct. 15.

USDA

Researchers at Dartmouth College have published a new analysis on how current and future uses of plant-based energy could be a key solution to climate change.

The study looks at bioenergy and biofuels, which can come from all kinds of plants, including grass, trees, corn or algae.

Dmoore5556 / Creative Commons

President Trump on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill that permanently funds the nation's biggest natural resource conservation program.

State environmental groups say the Great American Outdoors Act, backed by New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, is a milestone that's been decades in the making.

Flickr Creative Commons | Nicholas A. Tonelli

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, Outside/In Host Sam Evans-Brown answers listeners' questions about the mysteries and quirks of the outside world.

Laurie from California asks: “In all of the five big extinction events, how did plants fare versus animals? Are trees going to take over after we’re gone? Are trees with flowers still going to be around?”

Joe Klementovich / Hubbard Brook

New Hampshire scientists unveiled a landmark study Friday of how ice storms affect northern forests.

The first-of-its-kind research, from the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in North Woodstock, could help landowners and emergency managers plan for future disasters.

flickr

The idea of massively expanding tree planting as a solution to climate change started in the hallowed halls of academia, but has found its way to Capitol Hill. Republican lawmakers have seized on it as a climate policy they can support. 

Air date: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A logger in Bradford is being ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for repeated violations of the state’s forestry laws.

The so-called enhanced penalty is the first of its kind in New Hampshire.

Under a bill passed in 2011, the Forest Protection Bureau and Attorney General can seek additional financial penalties against individuals with multiple forestry-related convictions during a seven-year period of time.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

For the past few decades, New Hampshire's logging industry has been selling its wood scraps to be burned for energy. But now, after two years of failed subsidies, the state’s small biomass power plants are shutting down

It's left the forest products sector with few in-state markets for a lot of low-grade timber -- even as innovative new uses for that wood take root elsewhere in the region.

Karla Cinquanta

Jane Difley, the first female president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, is retiring on October 1, 2019, after 22 years. As a licensed forester, she has seen forest management evolve since she was a Forest Society intern in the 1970s. Her conservation leadership of the state's scenic landscapes includes establishing and getting dedicated funding for L-CHIP, as well as playing a role in the protection of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters, the Balsams, and Mount Major. The Forest Society was also a leader in the fight against the Northern Pass transmission pipeline.

Flickr Creative Commons | chadnorthrup

Every other Friday on Morning Edition, NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tracks down answers to questions about the environment and outdoors for our listeners in a segment we call “Ask Sam.” Do you have a question you want Sam to tackle? Click here to submit it!

Virginia from Manchester asks: I was wondering if we are having an abnormally high amount of pollen this season. And if we are having a worse pollen season than usual, I was wondering what the reason might be?

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State senators heard three hours of testimony Tuesday from dozens in the New Hampshire forest products industry who support a plan to resurrect biomass energy subsidies.

The plan, proposed in an amendment on an unrelated bill, is a version of a law passed last year that's since stalled in a legal challenge before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Jerry and Marcy Monkman / Trust For Public Lands

Researchers want to draw attention to what they say is a surprising number of town-owned forests in New Hampshire. 

They've completed a first-ever inventory of those spaces, and found towns own nearly 4 percent of all the state's forests.  

UNH Extension Forester Karen Bennett says it might not seem like much - especially since about three-quarters of forest in the state is privately owned. 

woodfin / Flickr CC

New research suggests New Hampshire forests could help store more climate-warming carbon dioxide while growing higher-value trees.

The study, from Clark University and the Nature Conservancy, says better land management – especially reforestation – could store up to a fifth of America’s climate-warming carbon emissions. 

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Hundreds of people from the timber and renewable energy industries crowded the New Hampshire State House lawn Thursday, rallying for legislators to overturn two vetoes they say could put them out of business.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A group of New Hampshire timber land owners and renewable energy advocates are rallying for an override of two controversial vetoes by Governor Chris Sununu.

Something Wild: A Timber Harvest

Aug 3, 2018
Anderson/SPNHF

We don't often think of trees when we speak of "harvest." Corn is harvested; apples, tomatoes, squash are the fruits of the annual autumnal rite which is the province of our farmers. Maybe it's because those plants are harvested at the end of their lifespan that we don't lament the moment they are cut down. We're much more precious with our trees.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Hampshire’s timber sector is rallying around a plan to sustain the biomass industry that Governor Chris Sununu vetoed last month.

They filled a warehouse in Bristol Thursday night for a strategy session with legislators on overturning that veto and passing the bill – which would require utilities to buy more woodchip-fired biomass energy.

In rejecting the bill, Sununu argued it would cost ratepayers too much. But loggers, landowners and suppliers say the benefits would far outweigh the costs.

New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association

Governor Chris Sununu is standing by his veto of a bill to boost the biomass industry – even as more of the wood-burning plants say they may shut down as a result.

A wood buyer for Bridgewater Biomass confirmed Tuesday that the plant took the veto as a signal about the industry's future, and stopped buying new wood in late June.

The Pinetree Power plants in Tamworth and Bethlehem did the same, according to spokeswoman Carol Churchill of their parent company, ENGIE North America.

U.S. Forest Service

The last prescribed burns of the year are set for this week in the White Mountain National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service has been setting fires since April all across the forest area in New Hampshire and Maine.

The controlled burns are a way of restoring habitat and reducing the risk of wildfires.

Weather permitting, North Country residents might see smoke or roads closed in parts of the forest on Wednesday and Thursday.

Burn season must end after May 31, when nesting season for the protected northern long-eared bat begins.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Maine Sen. Susan Collins have introduced a bill that would help timber markets in New England.

The bill would reauthorize the Community Wood Energy program, which expires at the end of this year. It encourages the use of biomass-fueled energy for heating and power.

Shaheen, a Democrat, said the bill would help jumpstart markets for low-value wood, invest in rural energy needs and create in jobs in the state's forest-dependent communities.

EPA Twitter

The Environmental Protection Agency says it will treat wood fuels from managed forests as carbon-neutral. It could give New Hampshire's timber industry some long-term certainty.

Charlie Niebling has worked around the Granite State's forest products industry for decades. He says scientists have never agreed on if biomass fuels, like wood chips, offset more carbon than they produce. 

 

Niebling thinks biomass can have a net carbon benefit if it's harvested from a well-managed forest and burned efficiently. 

 

Ken Lund; Flickr

The long-standing current use program gives favorable tax treatment to landowners who preserve open space, typically farmland or forest. But current use has always had detractors, who say it sets up an unfair tax system, and reduces revenue available to towns. 

In recent years, unreliable snow cover and wild temperature swings have caused headaches for our winter recreation industry, and all those who love to ski, ice-fish, or snowmobile.  But the impacts go beyond disappointment: there are animal and forest health affects as well, including the beloved Sugar maple. 

EPA on Twitter

During his New Hampshire visit Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt signaled plans for new federal energy policies that could bolster a struggling regional industry – biomass.

In a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu, Pruitt suggests the agency plans to add biomass, including wood and other plant-based fuels, to its “‘all of the above’ energy portfolio.” (Read the full letter below.)

Pages