Environment

wind turbines
Board of Ocean Energy Management

On Monday, the Obama administration announced about 300,000 acres of land of the North Carolina coast that will be explored for possible offshore wind development. The announcement includes three locations for potential development - two near Wilmington and one about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Kill Devil Hills.

On July 30,2014 the North Carolina Zoo’s female lion Mekita and male lion Reilly welcomed four cubs.
NC Zoo

July 30, a lion gave birth to four cubs at The North Carolina Zoo. It's the first birth since October 2006. The four cubs are not on exhibit now, but the zoo has made a behind-the-scenes video of them available. They are with mother Mekita:

This little girl is posing at her grandmother's home in Chapel Hill. She made the sign behind her to welcome the bees.
Carol Jackson

Marty Hanks loves everything about bees. He manages colonies in several counties around the state. If bees are bugging you, he will  remove them for free. But what makes Marty's business unique is not just that he removes the bees -- many beekeepers do that.

It's  that he finds foster families for them.

WUNC's Carol Jackson reports:

Maureen Sill / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at NC State University and the U.S. Geological Survey predict that urban areas in the south will double in size by 2060. If the rate and style of urban sprawl continues, farm and forest land will give way to a "megalopolis" that stretches from Raleigh to Atlanta.

USGS Research Ecologist Adam Terando says the pattern of decentralized development (meaning houses with yards and on cul-de-sacs as well as roadside business centers) will mean cutting further into wildlife habitats.

Tourism is doing well along the Dan River in Rockingham County, a few miles upstream from the site of a massive coal ash spill in February.
Jeff Tiberii

Following a massive coal ash spill into the Dan River in February, The Department of Health and Human Services issued an advisory downstream from the site, recommending people stay out of the water. Now, after surface water and soil testing, state health officials say recreational use of the Dan River is safe.

 

It has now been almost six months since a Duke Energy storm water pipe ruptured near the Virginia border, sending 39,000 tons of potentially toxic material into the Dan River. Some of the effects have been marginal and others remain unknown.

A picture of a woman photographing a beach house on stilts.
Eric Mennel / WUNC

The panel responsible for studying sea-level rise along North Carolina's coast met Monday in New Bern. It was the first meeting under a new mandate to look at the forecast for sea-level rise for a shorter time period.

Four years ago the Coastal Resources Commission's science panel issued a dire report saying oceans could rise 39 inches by the year 2100. The state then issued a moratorium on using that prediction for policy purposes. The new guidelines for the science panel call for a 30-year prediction.

The state commission overseeing plans to treat pollution in Jordan Lake did not make any recommendations during its last meeting.
JT Taylor / Flickr/Creative Commons

State environmental officials are overseeing the installation of special machines in Jordan Lake starting today. 

SolarBees are water circulators intended to prevent algae from storm water runoff from forming in the lake.  Installers are placing a total of 36 machines: 12 in the Haw River arm of the lake and 24 more in the Morgan Creek tributary.  

Susan Massengale is a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  She says this step begins 18 months of water testing.

A picture of a house damged by a tornado.
Blair Busby

Victims of severe storms and tornadoes that swept through 12 coastal counties in late April are eligible for federal disaster relief loans, if they turn in their applications today.

Business and homeowners, and renters, can apply for loans of varying levels from the Small Business Association. Interest rates are from 2 to 3 percent and can be paid off over 30 years.

Jay MacKenna of the SBA says these loans cover physical and property damage.

Medora Corp.

State environment officials expect to install 36-solar powered water mixers into Jordan Lake by the end of the month, as part of a two-year trial to find out whether the mixers can prevent algae from growing in the lake, they said.  

A screenshot captured Saturday at Mirlo Beach near Rodanthe shows the surf advancing on Highway 12.
NCDOT / facebook.com

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $20.3 million contract for beach re-nourishment just north of Rodanthe. The contract is going to the same Illinois dredging company that re-nourished the beach in Nags Head just before Hurricane Irene hit the area in 2011, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, of Illinois.

PED Virus
Rick Dove, Waterkeeper Alliance

The New York Times reports Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or PED virus killed an estimated 100,000 young pigs each week across the country since the virus was detected last May.

North Carolina continues to suffer.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture says, no doubt, PED has been a nasty virus and has taken an emotional and financial toll on hog farmers.

Hurricane Arthur 4/3
'Preppy Pimp' / Instagram

Updated July 4 7:15 a.m.: Hurricane Arthur is still a category two hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour. It is moving off the coast, but has left flood waters and downed trees across the Outer Banks. The National Weather Service says the storm surge was as high as four feet overnight.

Hurricane Arthur
National Weather Service / NOAA

Update: Highway 12 Could Reopen Saturday

Governor Pat McCrory says the North Carolina coast took less damage than expected from Hurricane Arthur.  

The storm moved north between the Outer Banks and the mainland as a Category 2 hurricane.  Emergency management officials are reporting downed trees and widespread power outages in their damage assessments this morning, but no injuries have been reported.  

The governor encouraged vacationers who might have canceled trips to the coast to renew their plans.

Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar
Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar

Hurricane Arthur is continuing its path toward North Carolina's Outer Banks. Residents on Hatteras Island are under a mandatory evacuation order. But many other residents and business operators in Dare County are taking a wait-and-see approach to the storm.   Karen Overbey is a manager at the aptly-named Awful Arthur's Oyster Bar in Kill Devil Hills.  She says the hurricane hasn't driven their customers away so far.

An illustration of Hurricane Arthur's projected path.
National Weather Service

Category one Hurricane Arthur has maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour.

Hatteras Island residents have begun a mandatory evacuation this morning, and a State of Emergency has been issued for all of Dare County. Hyde County has issued a voluntary evacuation for Ocracoke Island for 2 p.m. today.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Lara Pagano said North Carolinians can expect to feel the effects of the hurricane's outer bands today.

An aerial view of Tropical Storm Arthur.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Tropical Storm Arthur has formed off the coast of Florida, and is headed toward North Carolina. It isn't clear yet whether it will make landfall later this week.

Cyndy Holda of the Outer Banks Group of National Parks said local governments and businesses have hurricane action plans in place. However, she said, the Independence Day weekend is an inconvenient time for a storm to hit the beaches.

This is an example of the style of graphic in the textbook
E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation

Attention teachers and lifelong learners: noted naturalist and biologist Dr. Edward O. Wilson has a new product out that just might make you swoon. It's a gorgeous high-tech interactive textbook series with full-color photos, 3D animations and interviews with working scientists. It's aligned with educational standards and it's free.

North Carolina Air Pollution
Doug Bradley / Flickr

  

Stronger emission controls in North Carolina are closely associated with declining death rates from respiratory illnesses like asthma and emphysema, according to a Duke University study released this week. 

North Carolina Air Pollution
Doug Bradley / Flickr

Duke University researchers have found a connection between state and federal air pollution restrictions and improved public health in North Carolina.

Duke Surgery Professor H. Kim Lyerly and his team evaluated disparate data from air quality monitoring stations and health statistics between 1993 and 2010. Lyerly said air quality improved, and so did respiratory health.

Accounting for seasonal changes and an overall drop in smoking, Lyerley said annual emphysema-related deaths dropped from 12-per-100,000 people, to five. Asthma and pneumonia-related deaths decreased, too.

Pisgah National Forest
Flickr

Thirty years ago today, President Ronald Reagan signed the North Carolina Wilderness Act which protected nearly 100,000 acres of wilderness in the state. Robert Cox, former president of the Sierra club, was instrumental in the law’s passage.

He toured the state showing the following slideshow on the importance of wilderness. It was digitized by the North Carolina Sierra Club as part of the project, Our Wild North Carolina.

Of course, the North Carolina Wilderness Act was controversial at the time, just as many environmental issues are today. Human industry has historically locked horns with the rest of nature.

Today, Cox is a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studies the rhetoric of environmentalism and social change. 

Collapsed House Near Kingston Spill
Wikipedia

    

The coal ash spill in the Dan River earlier this year turned a public spotlight on the issue of coal ash disposal. The challenges around coal ash waste have existed in communities throughout the nation for decades.

black bear
Casey Brown / Flickr/Creative Commons

NC State University and the Wildlife Resources Commission are catching bears that live in and around Asheville and tracking them using satellite collars. The five year study began in May and is the first of its kind in the Southeast.

The Wildlife Commission's Brad Howard said the urban bear study will help answer a lot of questions, not only for Asheville, but other developed areas where bears have been spotted lately, including Raleigh.

A picture of a Viking gas-powered lawnmower.
kallerna / Wikipedia

Durham's "Get Your Grass Off Gas" campaign kicks off its fourth year next weekend. Each year, the city collects gas-powered yard equipment – like lawn mowers and weed whackers. They send those to the scrap yard and give residents discounts on new electric models.

City Sustainability Officer Tobin Freid says about 300 people have turned in gas-powered equipment over the past three years.

SCOTUS
Wikipedia

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that North Carolina homeowners could not proceed with their claims against CTS Corp. manufacturing plant because of the state's statute of repose. The ruling could have an effect on claims by individuals harmed by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

Whale euthanization
Sarah Mallette

In 2009, a 30-foot long Right whale became stranded on Cape Lookout, N.C. For those who've never been, Cape Lookout is a remote beach, reachable only by boat or helicopter. The weather conditions were rough. During high-tide, the whale was completely submerged. During low-tide, it was completely exposed.

Craig Harms and his team of scientists had to catch a ride from a Coast Guard helicopter.

"The pilot asked me, 'How much time do you need?'" said Harms. "I said, 'I can do quite a bit in half an hour.' She said, 'You've got 10 minutes."

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