Environment

Marines at Camp Lejeune are welcoming the shipment of locally-produced biofuel. 800 gallons were delivered today as a demonstration of the capability of biofuel in North Carolina. The delivery is part of the efforts of the North Carolina Eastern Region's Military Growth Task Force. George Miller is the Program Manager for the Food and Fuel Program for the task force. He says the crop was grown in eastern North Carolina in Jones and Craven Counties, turned into 100 percent biofuel at the Piedmont Biofuels refinery in Pittsboro, then sent to Potter Oil back east.

Animal Control officials say at least 10 packs of wild dogs are roaming neighborhoods in Cumberland County. Residents have recently reported feral dogs attacking or killing family pets. County Animal Control director John Lauby says more owners are abandoning their pets as they struggle with an economy still coming out of recession. Dogs instinctively join packs after being without food for long periods of time. Lauby says some residents have been feeding the wild dogs, which takes away his ability to trap them.

The National Park Service is accepting public comment about rules governing off-road vehicles on the Outer Banks. North Carolina environmental groups filed a lawsuit in 2007 that said regulators did not have proper rules in place to protect wildlife from vehicles that might disturb sea turtle nests and other natural habitats. At the same time, some North Carolina lawmakers lobbied for beach access to support local businesses. Mike Murray is the superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Big game hunting could be coming to the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina. A new proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would allow limited hunting for white tail deer and feral hogs. Mike Bryant is a refuge manager for six areas including Currituck. He says the rule changes would mark the first time deer and hog hunters would be allowed in the refuge.

EPA officials are working to clean up tractor trailers containing barrels filled with chemicals on a residential property in Rocky Mount. The owner of the property said the trailers had been there since he inherited the land from his father. When crews arrived on-site they reported strong chemical odors and a trailer was leaking black material. Kenneth Rhame of the EPA says they have determined the air around the site is not contaminated, but soil contamination is still a worry.

Researchers are surveying protected marine species along the east coast. They're documenting the birds, fish, and mammals that live in and around the ocean. The survey is entering its second year and will not be completed until 2014. Shelley Dawicki of The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution says very little is known about the distribution and density of marine life deep in the ocean.

A new study from Duke University reveals that many of the world's undiscovered plant and animal species are in danger. Researchers say many of the missing species live in areas being developed or deforested. Stuart Pimm is the Doris Duke Chair of Ecology at Duke. He says a new mathematical model doubles the number of plant species believed to be under threat.

Guilford County is in the running for a massive solar power project.

National Solar Power of Melbourne, Florida has selected seven finalists for what it says will be the “world’s largest solar farm” – and Guilford County is on the list.  Gail Vadia is a spokeswoman for the Greensboro Partnership – a community and economic development organization in Guilford County. She says National Solar Power has already been in contact with land-owners.

Firefighters took a step forward this week in controlling North Carolina's wildfires. Forestry officials say the blaze in Dare County was fully contained Monday night. But Division of Forest Resources spokesman Chris Carlson says firefighters still face the daunting task of putting it out.

Chris Carlson: "There are some areas within the interior that are just too far to get water to, so they may continue to smolder for a while. The peat soil is deep, so the only thing that we can do is monitor it and wait for Mother Nature itself to put it out with lots of rain."

A North Carolina law goes into effect this week that bans electronics from landfills. Starting Friday, materials like computer equipment and televisions will have to go to local recycling facilities. Lowell Shaw of Wake County Waste Management says the law keeps elements in electronics hardware like cadmium and mercury from seeping into groundwater.

New Research at North Carolina State University points to the disadvantages of improperly disposing of biodegradable plastics. The products are designed to break down in composting bins. James Levis is an N.C. State PhD candidate and one of the study's organizers. He says the problem is that most biodegradable plastics are being thrown in the trash.

North Carolina National Guard troops are helping battle the huge wildfires in Arizona. About three dozen guard members are flying airborne tankers dropping chemical fire retardant on the blazes. Lieutenant Colonel Rose Dunlap is with the 145th Airlift Wing based in Charlotte. She says logistics for fighting such large fires are complex.

NC Clean Energy Data Book
energync.org

People interested in North Carolina's clean energy economy will now find much of what they're looking for in one source. The non-profit North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association has released a book that compiles various data, maps, and charts on North Carolina's green infrastructure.
Spokeswoman Julie Robinson says there isn't just one dominant source of clean energy.

Unseasonably hot temperatures last week exacerbated drought conditions along the coast of North Carolina. Eight new eastern counties have been added to the severe drought list. Most of central North Carolina is experiencing abnormal to moderate drought conditions. State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says the drought has been worsening for a while.

Dare County Commissioners are holding a series of public meetings next week to address long-term implications of the wildfire there. The blaze started more than six weeks ago when lightning struck in an area of peat soil near Stumpy Point. Firefighters say it could smolder for months and light new fires. Some commissioners worry that could keep visitors from coming to the Outer Banks this summer. Warren Judge is the chair of the Dare County Board of Commissioners. He says smoke conditions vary day by day based on wind direction.

A team from N.C. State could win a national competition today to design an environmentally friendly car. There are sixteen teams in the finals of the Eco Car contest being held in Washington this week. The winner will be announced later today. Jonathan Lohr is an assistant team leader for the Wolfpack. He says their car uses electricity and a bio-diesel engine.

An elementary school in Fayetteville that was damaged by an April 16th tornado could reopen sooner than expected. One of the strongest tornadoes that touched down that day blew much of the roof off Ben Martin Elementary School. No one was injured in the incident. Students have been going to class at two other schools nearby. Administrators said they hoped to get students back to Ben Martin by December. But principal Crystal Brown says they now expect to move in at the end of October.

This year's harsh winter has led to a steep decline in North Carolina's shrimp catch. That's according to state wildlife officials, who say cold waters killed the majority of white shrimp in North Carolina water. That species usually spends the winter near the shore and swims out to sea around the beginning of June. Carlyle Gilgo is a seafood dealer in the town of Sealevel near Morehead City. He says he hasn't caught any shrimp yet this year.

The Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center has released 41 turtles on Topsail Island. More than 4 hundred school children came from surrounding counties to watch yesterday's event. The turtles were escorted down the beach and gently returned to their ocean home. Many of the turtles that were released had been found stunned in last winter's cold water. Jean Beasley, the center's director, said sea turtles are crucial to human survival.

Local business owners in northeastern North Carolina say the Dare County wildfire hasn't stopped tourists from coming to the beach. The blaze started more than three weeks ago and covers nearly 28,000 acres in and around the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. Forecasters say Dare County is still under heavy smoke and fog advisories for some areas. But Paul Charron says it was business as usual this weekend at his restaurant in Manteo. 

Cicadas Inspire Love, Frustration

May 30, 2011

 Residents around the Triangle have been serenaded by the drone of 13-year cicadas for several weeks now. Among some, the orange and black visitors have inspired awe and sometimes devotion. 

After living underground for 13 years, the insects have crawled into tree tops where cicada males are serenading females. Caroline Christopher lives out in the woods north of Chapel Hill

Pigs just before auction, hogs,
Chris Cioffi

  Durham County Animal Shelter officials auctioned off five little pigs today. The young piglets made headlines two months ago after they turned up on interstate forty blocking traffic. The porkers have been living in a converted dog pen at the Durham County Animal Shelter. Lee Sackett of C-J Acres Animal Rescue Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida was the winning bidder. He paid $3,200 for the pigs.

Debris from last month's tornadoes that hit central North Carolina is still being cleaned up. In Raleigh, officials are advising residents to get the rest of their yard debris out to the curb by June first. There is also an effort by city workers to clear streams and rivers of downed trees that could contribute to flooding. Steve Abbot works for the state Department of Transportation. He says contractors are still collecting debris outside of Raleigh as well. 

Geologists say North Carolina's natural gas reserves in one Piedmont sub-basin could power the state for 40 years. The North Carolina Geological Survey completed research last week that suggests a basin underneath Lee, Chatham and Moore Counties is rich in natural gas deposits. State Geological Survey chief Kenneth Taylor says North Carolina sent samples to federal geologists to confirm the findings.

A former Alcoa smelting plant in Stanly County will now be home to an electronics recycling center. 

bear on allk 4s
National Park Service

  People from Greensboro to Garner have been spotting black bears in recent days. Officials say it's the time of year juveniles typically venture out of their home habitats in search of a new place to live. Colleen Olfenbuttel is a biologist with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission. She says bear sightings in the Triangle and Triad are becoming more frequent.

Residents of North Carolina are being urged to get ready for hurricane season which officially begins next week. Forecasters and other officials are using this week to highlight some of things you can do to prepare for the big storms. Jeff Orrock is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says a busy forecast means its time to get supplies like food, water, medicine and batteries purchased and organized.

The pirate Blackbeard's flagship is the focus of a spring dive that begins May 23rd. The Queen Anne's Revenge went down off the North Carolina coast in June, 1718. Recovery efforts have been underway for years at the site of the wreck near Beaufort. Mark Wilde-Ramsing is the state underwater archeologist and is heading up the project. He says there are several goals for the two-week dive.

Solar energy industry leaders are gathered in Raleigh for a 5 day national conference. It's the 40th year for the National Solar Conference held by the American Solar Energy Society. This year it's being held at the Raleigh Convention Center. The public is invited to the final day of the conference this Saturday.

A new study from Duke University explains the source of salinity in well water on the Outer Banks. Professor Avner Vengosh directed the study. He says salinity levels are rising in wells on the Outer Banks. 

Avner Vengosh: "But our study shows the salinity is not derived from sea water intrusion as some had feared before, but its rather from flow of natural occurring ground water originated from fossil sea water."

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