Environment

Image of a sweat bee on button snakeroot
Barbara Driscoll

Bees are vital to the American food system. Honey bees alone contribute more than $15 billion to the American economy through pollination of plants that produce fruits, nuts and vegetables.

red wolf
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The Red Wolf Recovery program in eastern North Carolina will continue – at least for now. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the 27-year old program will require some changes and further review. The agency will not release new animals into the wild while it studies the program further.

About 50-75 wild red wolves currently roam a five-county area on the Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.

Dry soil image
Darren Hester / https://www.flickr.com/photos/grungetextures/4187619970

Parts of North Carolina have slipped into drought for the first time in two years. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says the drought extends from the Triad to Charlotte and points west.

Jamie Kritzer is a spokesman for DENR.

"People need to pay close attention to what's happening in their areas and follow any water restrictions that are being put in place in those local areas," Kritzer says.

Image of Joel Bourne
Andrew Tie / WUNC

Eastern North Carolina native Joel Bourne was living down the road from his family farm at the end of the Green Revolution in the mid-20th century.

At that time, newly modified wheat seeds produced an agricultural boom that allowed farmers across the world to grow more crops than ever before. It was the answer to a growing crisis of food scarcity.

An image of the sun
Dominik Hundhammer / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:India_Goa_Fort_Chapora_Chapora_River.jpg

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for 17 counties in the eastern and southeastern part of the state today. The heat index could reach 105 degrees in the Sand Hills by early this evening.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services warns that these high temperatures put people—especially the elderly, the very young, and those on specific medications—at risk for heat stroke.

A picture of a fan.
Mikael Leppä / https://www.flickr.com/photos/54544400@N00/5925014448

North Carolina is in the heat of the summer, just take a look at the thermometer. In the Sand Hills, the temperatures are in the triple digits.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Tim Armstrong said this is the hottest weather the Fayetteville area has seen in three years, and that temperatures could climb to 104 degrees Tuesday.

Armstrong said because of the humidity, it could feel more like 110 degrees, and that is a dangerous.

An image of Herbert C. Bonner Bridge
Smkybear / Wikimedia Commons

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is old— 52 years old, to be exact. Since 1963, the aging Bonner Bridge has connected the Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe in Dare Co. and served as a link from Hatteras Island to the mainland. After years of repairs and legal tangles, the bridge is now being replaced by a new parallel bridge.

Albert Kok / Wikimedia Commons

Two teens survived a shark attack Sunday on Oak Island. The 16-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl were attacked separately about 90 minutes apart from each and suffered severe injuries to their left arms.

A picture of Jay Faison.
SnapAV

A conservative tech entrepreneur has created a foundation dedicated to finding clean-energy solutions to the climate crisis.

Jay Faison has several defining characteristics. He is a Republican, a member of a wealthy Charlotte family, and a supporter of GOP campaigns in North Carolina and nationally. Faison founded the ClearPath Foundation in December, and recently announced that he is giving $175 million to a campaign to get Republicans talking about market-based solutions to climate change. 

vibracore
Dave DeWitt

For a coastal geologist, a vibracore is like a time machine. As a generator vibrates a long aluminum tube, Professor Antonio Rodriguez and his two graduate students force it deep into the Onslow Beach sand.

When they pull it up a few minutes later, it reveals several thousand years of history.

Solar Panels
Strata Solar

The North Carolina General Assembly is considering legislation to limit the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. Proponents say tax incentives and government mandates for renewable energy are crucial to continued growth in revenue and jobs. 

  Several large companies like Google and Facebook have urged the legislature not to roll back the measures. Opponents say solar businesses costs the state more than they generates and taxpayers end up footing the bill. 

Jackson DeWitt

October is clearly not happy. And when a 250-pound loggerhead isn’t happy, caretakers at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center have found that lovingly slapping her shell seems to calm her down.

“When something is upset, what is your first impulse as a human species? It’s to pat,” says Jean Beasley, the founder and executive director of the sea-turtle hospital. “So we did and it worked, the turtle calmed down. I think it has something to do with the wave cycle and the feeling of security.”

What To Do With The Deer In NC

Jun 9, 2015
White-tailed deer
Dcoetzee / wikimedia

The deer eating your plants or crossing the road just in front of your car are now the topic of a statewide discussion.

State officials have been evaluating North Carolina's wild deer population for three years and are asking for public feedback. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission will be hosting nine forums across the state in June to discuss deer management. 

Lee County coal ash
Dave DeWitt

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced today that it has approved the necessary permits to transform two abandoned clay mines into coal ash storage pits.

Duke Energy intends to ship coal ash from several of its facilities across the state to the Colon Mine Site in Lee County and the Brickhaven No. 2 Mine Tract “A” in Chatham County. It was awaiting the DENR permits before it began moving ash. The Lee and Chatham County facilities will be the first lined coal ash pits in the state.

A picture of a teacher and intern working on a computer.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Computers, smart phones and other electronics often end up in landfills just a couple years after they're manufactured. The United Nations says electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in developed developing countries alike, and it can be hazardous.

A picture of used aluminum cans.
Tambako the Jaguar / Flickr

Spring cleaning is underway; you can tell from the yard sales dotting lawns over the weekend. Most other unwanted items can go in your recycling bin. Morning Edition producer Rebecca Martinez has been reporting on recycling and re-use.

Eric Hodge: Communities across the state have really been pushing recycling in recent years, making it more convenient. Why does that matter?

A picture of Bob Savino and some fresh mattresses.
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Off all the items that end up in a landfill, operators agree that mattresses are the biggest nuisance. So one Greensboro entrepreneur found a way to give new life to mattresses while turning a profit.

"Landfill operators hate mattresses, frankly. Mattresses don't compact well at all."

That's Gayle Wilson. He runs Orange County's Solid Waste Department.

Picture an enormous thrift store with a funky vibe and full of boisterous music. A vintage-looking swordfish hangs above the register, and the art that lines the walls is made from old binders and colorful bits of foam and plastic.

"We get a ton of fabric, beads, buttons, trim, notion, paint, wood, frames, matte board, foam core, billboards, signage, magnets," said Ann Woodward.

A picture of two men working on a bike wheel.
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Giselle John of Cary has not had a bike in more than a decade, but that is not going to stop her.  For this weekend's activity, John's online Meetup group chose the ReCYCLEry in Chapel Hill. She decides to get her hands dirty bringing a slightly rusty old mountain back back into working order.

"I'm gonna ride it. I might need double helmets and lots of padding," John said.  "I don't even know if I have the balance yet. I'll try it. See what happens."

Scott Cahoon, Hatteras Island Phantom Photography

As you stroll out toward the end of the Rodanthe Fishing Pier, it is impossible not to notice that it’s not entirely straight.

It goes a little bit up. It goes a little bit down. The pier jogs a little to the right and left in different places. A few boards are loose, too, and it’s mighty windy. In other words, it’s not perfect, but for Terry Plumblee, being here is a lifelong dream come true.

Image of geovisualization of potential inundation due to sea level rise in the Albemarle- Pamlico Estuarine System.
East Carolina University (Brent Gore, Matt Carey, Travis Hill and Michelle Covi)

A few weeks ago, the ocean washed away a 200-foot stretch of Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk.

It wasn’t destroyed by a hurricane or a Nor'easter. It was just another storm. Geologists say it is one more example of how life is changing along the North Carolina coast, thanks in part to the rising sea level. 

US Army Corps Of Engineers

North Carolina’s most recent Sea-Level Rise Report is the product of decades of tidal gauge data, computer modeling and hundreds of years of collected scientific expertise. But Jon Britt doesn’t need all that to tell him the water’s getting higher. He just needs to look out his back door.

One of Progress Energy's solar energy farms.
Duke Energy/Progress Energy

The General Assembly is caught up in a possible overhaul of the state’s commitment to renewable energy. A bill moving through the state legislature would scale back the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (REPS).

 

REPS are important because they mandate how much renewable energy a company like Duke Energy produces as a part of its total electricity sales.

 

The Haw River as seen from the Bynum Bridge with 15-501 in the distance
Keith Weston / WUNC

Depending on the perspective, the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency was instituting a new, updated and clarified Clean Water Rule is either a cause for celebration in North Carolina or a cause for fear that it will choke the state's economy

What is most likely, of course, is that the rule will come under further partisan attacks.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

Duke Energy Progress says it will convert another power plant from coal to natural gas.

Duke Energy's plans for the facility at Lake Julian in Asheville are another indication that the energy giant is increasingly relying on natural gas, in part because of its falling price. 

The utility calls the transition for Asheville a "win-win:" cleaner energy and more jobs. Environmentalists say natural gas has its own negative consequences.

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