Environment

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Adriana Arango / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Asian Longhorned Beetles, Emerald Ash Borers, Hemlock Woolly Adelgids: all these bugs pose threats to trees in Connecticut. Now, you can add another bug to that list: the southern pine beetle.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has awarded a contract for a major highway project in western Massachusetts.

JF White-Schiavone of Framingham submitted the lowest bid this week to rebuild the two-mile long elevated portion of Interstate 91 through downtown Springfield. 

The project is expected to cost $183 million and take three years.  There will be detours and ramp closings during the work, which is expected to start this summer.

City of Stamford

Earlier this week, Connecticut DOT officials shut down a state-owned parking garage at the Stamford Transportation Center. A chunk of concrete fell from one of the parking decks to the deck below over the weekend. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The garage is almost 30 years old, and has been part of a redevelopment plan of the state’s for a very long time -- a plan that will probably involve replacing the parking garage. But for now, it’s closed for evaluation, and that’s thrown off about a thousand commuters who rely on the rails to get to work.

It points to a bigger question: what will the state do about developing around transit stations? Are we stuck planning primarily for cars? 

In space, all they have is instant.

"For an instant coffee, it's an excellent instant coffee," says Vickie Kloeris, who manages the space station's food supply for NASA. Astronauts are allotted up to three freeze-dried cups (pouches, actually) a day, and Kloeris says it's "extremely popular."

But, she adds, "Can it compete with brewed espresso? No."

Wikimedia Commons

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke at Yale University on Tuesday and said he likes how social media is causing a change in the way big-business producers like McDonald's create their food.

Cristian / Creative Commons

State transportation officials shut down a state parking garage at Stamford's downtown train station late Monday. The decision came after chunks of concrete fell over the weekend from the garage's third deck to the second deck below.

Laura Hubers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

When you think about plants, you probably picture individual trees or your favorite type of flower, but you probably don't think of them in a bigger way: as habitat.

Tintazul / Creative Commons

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's inspector general said Metro-North maintenance crews get little or no supervision and fail to document their work.

Seven named storms, three hurricanes — one of them major.

That's the early prediction for the 2015 Atlantic basin hurricane season by Colorado State University's Department of Atmospheric Sciences. If the forecast pans out, it would be one of the quietest seasons in decades.

A tornado that hit Illinois on Thursday was so massive and the damage so extensive that in some areas, plows had to push debris off the streets so emergency crews could reach survivors.

At least one person died as a result of twisters that raked the state and other areas Thursday. Numerous injuries were also reported.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Connecticut is receiving the federal disaster declaration needed to receive federal aid to help cover costs incurred from the January blizzard.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Wednesday that financial assistance will be provided to state agencies and municipalities in New London, Windham and Tolland counties. Also, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes will be eligible for funding to help cover costs incurred from the storm. The reimbursement rate is 75 percent.

Hyland House

Definitively dating an old house can be tricky. Today, we have things like photographs and land records, but how would you figure out a house's age without that kind of stuff? 

Tom Barnes / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Hike through any forest in Connecticut and you're bound to encounter a relic of the state's agricultural past: stone walls. Decades ago, the walls enclosed large tracts of open pasture and farmland, which was ideal habitat for animals like the New England cottontail rabbit.

But as farms were abandoned and that open space turned into mature forest, those rabbits disappeared. Now, federal efforts are underway to recreate some of that open space, and bring the New England cottontail back.

Creative Commons

For the last few decades, lobsters have had to prove that they were healthy enough to ship by having blood drawn.

Now, thanks to a Connecticut native, all they’ll have to do is prove their strength in the most lobster of methods: by squeezing sensors with their claws.

Aundrea Murray / WNPR

The I-84 viaduct in Hartford needs to be replaced, but the state still has to figure out how that’s going to happen -- and it's currently considering options.

DVIDSHUB / Creative Commons

New patterns of extreme weather have insurance companies thinking more seriously about climate change. As storms intensify and damages increase, many are looking at new ways to predict losses from climate related risks. 

The Case Against Owning Exotic Pets

Apr 1, 2015
Steve Jurvetson / Flickr

It's official: owning a dog or a cat is just not as cool as it used to be. Nowadays, anybody who's anybody owns a monkey, or a leopard, or a slow loris... Whatever that is. Indeed in today's age, with the desire to stand out leading us to make ever more questionable decisions, owning a creature everyone else is smart enough (or ethical enough) not to own is a true mark of distinction.

USFWS Headquarters / Creative Commons

The Northern Long-eared bat is now a protected animal under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the move on Wednesday, saying the designation will come with a special interim rule aimed at relieving regulatory burdens on local land owners and government agencies in the bat's range.

Scientists in California are hoping to use your smart phone to solve a cosmic mystery. They're developing an app to turn your phone into a cosmic ray detector. If enough people install the app, the scientists think they'll be able to figure out once and for all what's producing the very energetic cosmic rays that occasionally hit the Earth.

Ryan King / WNPR

It all starts with a sugar bush. While that sounds like something out of the board game Candy Land, it's actually another name for a stand of sugar maples -- one of the trees that gives us maple syrup.

Ryan King / WNPR

CTfastrack begins service this weekend. The 9.4 mile bus-only roadway runs from New Britain to Hartford, looking to lure some driving commuters to consider mass transit.

lolo-38 / Creative Commons

You may leave the radio or the TV on for your kitty when you head off to work, but new research is saying that might not be the best idea. Instead, why not try out a few of these songs, composed specifically for your cat master?

Robert Dewar / Creative Commons

Neanderthals have long been recognized as humans’ closest relatives. They were highly intelligent, skilled hunters, with a rugged build, and a knack for toolmaking.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

A Russian rocket has carried a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut to the International Space Station, where they will live for a full year, twice as long as people usually stay.

No American has remained in space longer than 215 days. Only a few people have ever gone on space trips lasting a year or more — the longest was 437 days — and they're all Russian cosmonauts. The last year-plus stay in space occurred nearly two decades ago.

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways — research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

Wikimedia Commons

Residents on Connecticut's coast continue to underestimate the economic and physical dangers posed by severe weather, according to a new survey out of Yale.

Bill Dickinson / Flickr

The new route for passenger rail through the Pioneer Valley in western Massachusetts is exceeding expectations, according to numbers from Amtrak.

The service shifted west in late December, which eliminated a stop in Amherst, and added new ones in Northampton and Greenfield. 

MGM Springfield

MGM broke ground on an $800 million casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts on Tuesday.

Company officials -- including Mike Mathis, MGM Springfield president; Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno; and state Gaming Commission Chairman Stephen Crosby -- were all in attendance.

SEDACmaps / Creative Commons

A delegation from the East African Nation of Djibouti is visiting Yale University to learn more about how climate change will affect the horn of Africa in the coming years.

Updated at 12:50 p.m. ET

SpaceX has put all of its images in the public domain — as the result of a tweet.

CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday:

Among the responses was this one:

Musk's reply:

SpaceX posted new images on its website and on Flickr. The decision puts SpaceX in the company of NASA, which also has its images in the public domain.

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