State takes nominations for environmental excellence awards

The state of Vermont is accepting nominations for the 2016 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence.

The awards are given out each year to Vermont individuals, organizations, educational institutions, government organizations and businesses for efforts in resource conservation, environmental protection, pollution prevention and sustainability.

Applications are due by Feb. 1, 2016.

More information is available online on the state Department of Environmental Conservation's Environmental Assistance Office website or by contacting Maura Mancini by phone at 802-522-0218 or email at maura.mancini(at)

Hearings set on Vermont rule banning firewood imports

Vermont's Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation is proposing to ban the importation of untreated firewood into the state, and has scheduled two public hearings on the matter.

State officials say the rule aims at slowing the spread of wood-borne forest pests including the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer.

Public comments are welcome until Jan. 15. Hearings have been set for Tuesday, January 5th at the Manchester Town Hall in Manchester Center; and Thursday, January 7th at the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury. Both start at 4 p.m.


The rule defines firewood as wood processed for burning that is less than 48 inches long. It does not include wood chips, pellets, pulpwood, or wood for manufacturing purposes.

Vermont recycling law boosts Foodbank supplies

The adage that one person's trash is another person's treasure is coming to the world of food in Vermont.

Food saved by the state's universal recycling law is being put to use by the Vermont Foodbank and food shelves around the state.

Much of the waste that has gone to the state's landfills over the years actually is good-quality food. It's now being diverted to the Foodbank, where it's checked thoroughly to make sure it's still fresh and wholesome before being sent to regional food distribution centers.

"Food rescue is up 30 percent year to date," said Alex Bornstein, the Foodbank's chief operations officer. "Our network partner pick-ups from retail establishments are up 209 percent. Our overall waste is down 56 percent. Under half a percent of what we bring in here goes to waste, which is generally pig food or compost, it doesn't go into landfill. Our pounds distributed overall in Vermont through all of our locations are up 25 percent this year."

Partner agencies pick up unwanted food from grocery stores and food companies and farmers also donate food that perhaps has a labeling mistake or produce that is not the right size for the wholesale market.

Before the universal recycling law, 60,000 tons of food was discarded each year in Vermont, the Agency of Natural Resources estimates. The agency said an estimated 30 to 40 percent of it was edible.

Montshire Museum of Science celebrates 40 years

The Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich is kicking off its 40th anniversary celebration with a free community open house.

The event takes place Sunday, Jan. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Visitors will be encouraged to design wearable art using LED lights, make streamers and flying contraptions for the tube and make "science" confetti to throw while singing happy birthday to the museum.

The museum's executive director will also make special announcements about new community initiatives at 2 p.m.

Admission will be free to the museum throughout the day.

The museum first opened January 10, 1976, in the former Golfside Bowling Lanes in Hanover, New Hampshire. It moved to its current location 10 years later and has grown since then.

Vermont church closing its doors after 142 years

A Vermont church is closing its doors after 142 years in Quechee.

Rising maintenance costs and declining membership have led to decision to close the Quechee Community Church and sell the building. A final service was held on Christmas eve, and the church was filled to capacity.

People in the Upper Valley have been attending the church since 1873. Longtime members say the church used to attract scores of young families, but typical Sunday services have drawn less than two dozen.

The church is located about 11 miles from Lebanon, New Hampshire.

The church plans to hold a special day of remembrance on Jan. 10 before it closes.

Rob Robertson is a member of the church council, tells VPR that the costs of keeping an old building maintained and heated were just too great.

After many tag sales and church functions that fell on the shoulders of only a few members, Robertson says the church simply ran out steam.

Pat Lewis has been a member of the church since 1956, and remembers the Main Street church being packed with young families.

"A village without a church; it's very hard to accept that, and it's rough," says Lewis. "Maybe it's just a trend of the times. But it is sad."

Vermont Land Trust acquires farm in Newport

The Vermont Land Trust has acquired — temporarily — the largest tract of agricultural land in the northern Vermont city of Newport, and it wants suggestions from local residents on the property's future.

The Land Trust is hosting tours of the Bluffside Farm at 1 p.m. on Jan. 9 and 19. Participants should dress for the weather and may want to bring snowshoes.

The 60-acre farm has just under a mile of undeveloped frontage on Lake Memphremagog, including a natural sand beach that is considered a Vermont Nongame and Natural Heritage site.

Land Trust officials say they want community input on preserving the land for purposes such as farming, recreation, and natural resource protection. The Land Trust does not plan to be the long-term owner of the property.

– The Associated Press