Category: Environment

Resource Category Topic Type
Beliefs about Development Versus Environmental Tradeoffs in the Puget Sound Region
Using data from a phone survey of 1,980 Puget Sound residents conducted in 2012, this fact sheet outlines residents’ views about the importance of environmental protection as well as their opinions about energy development, protection of wild salmon, and land use regulation.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community Development, Economic Development, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Biofueling Rural Development: Making the Case for Linking Biofuel Production to Rural Revitalization
Biofuels play a crucial role in America's quest for oil independence. In recent years, the biofuel industry has seen significant technology and efficiency advances, as well as expansions in the materials that can be used to create biofuels. Grains and oilseeds are limited in their ability to meet fuel needs, but a shift to biomass feedstocks offers better production possibilities. For rural communities, locally owned biomass refineries may offer promise of new investment, job growth, and revitalization.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Economic Development, Environment, Infrastructure, Rural Publication
Carsey Perspectives: Saving Salt, Protecting Watersheds, in Winter Road Maintenance
Every winter, the surface of the earth in the northern United States becomes considerably more salty. The reason is, for availability, cost, and effectiveness, nothing beats salt-based deicers for keeping roadways clear of ice. But the effects of road salt on aquatic ecosystems, freshwater drinking supplies, infrastructure, and vehicles is significant. When chlorides get into groundwater, it can be very difficult to get them out. They do not biodegrade over time, and the accumulation in soils can be retained for decades.1 As few as 50 pounds of salt can contaminate 10,000 gallons of water.2 The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services estimates that there are almost 50 chloride-impaired watersheds within the state, and it lists over 100 of the state’s drinking water sources as contaminated due to chlorides.3 Groundwater experts suggest that the chloride problem may be much larger than we know, due to limited testing and the cumulative impact of the chemical. Therefore, given what we know about the harmful effects of salt, it makes sense to use it sparingly. But as any homeowner who has tossed it on a sidewalk knows, it is hard to estimate the right amount to use and, if anything, we err on the side of caution, resulting in liberal applications. Municipalities have an even tougher time getting it right. A public works department must deploy dozens or hundreds of spreaders, managing them so they do not miss a road and adjusting their management approach to accommodate changing temperatures and the unique weather fluctuations of each winter event. When trucks are moving through complex road systems it can be challenging for operators to know the last time deicing material was applied to a particular surface. When in doubt, operators apply more material. It was in seeing that there was significant opportunity for innovation within the winter road maintenance industry that I decided to launch a company where we could work to help address some of the industry’s challenges. In 2012, I launched the New Hampshire based company, Sensible Spreader Technologies LLC (SST), and we are currently helping municipalities and private contractors increase efficiency, increase safety, and reduce deicer waste by showing operators in real time what’s been covered and what hasn’t. SST’s Coverage Indication Technology (CIT) uses mobile devices, wireless sensors, cloud computing, and real-time electronic maps to show operators the concurrent locations of other vehicles in the fleet and the plowing and deicing operations that have taken place over specific intervals. SST developed this technology after measuring the regular occurrence of material-based overlap within short time durations at multiple municipal locations. Material-based overlap occurs when operators reapply material in areas that have already received sufficient quantities of deicing material. We observed that the highest likelihood for overlap occurred in and around grid-type infrastructure, typical of urban environments, but overlap was also observed in rural settings.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, Infrastructure, New Hampshire Publication
Carsey Perspectives: To Dig, Or Not To Dig?
Editor’s Note: Tom Haines, a journalist and assistant professor of English at The University of New Hampshire, has walked hundreds of miles across landscapes of fuel while researching a book about energy and the environment that will be published in 2018. He served as a Carsey School Summer Research Scholar in 2015, when he walked 50 miles among the open-pit coal mines of Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. That on-the-ground reporting informs this analysis. In January 2016, the Department of Interior announced a moratorium on all new federal coal leases while it conducts an in-depth review of the process by which coal owned by the American public is sold to private enterprise for harvest. Nearly 40 percent of all coal produced in the United States comes from federal land, and coal still powers one-third of the nation’s electricity grid.1 The federal coal lease review, the first since the 1980s, considers pricing and competitive bidding practices, but also, for the first time, the environmental impact that burning coal has on a warming planet. In announcing the review, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said: “We need to take into account right now the science of carbon’s impact on the environment.” Ten percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions comes from burning coal harvested on public land. Nearly all of that, more than 85 percent, is dug from the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.2 Nowhere else does the U.S. government control such a vast deposit of fossil fuel. So as the lease review—and the climate impacts it considers—plays out over the next few years, the Powder River Basin, home to some of the world’s largest open-pit coal mines, looms as a policy frontier: Should this fuel box of America, which has sent coal to power plants in dozens of states for decades, continue to feed our energy appetite?
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Politics and Elections Publication
Clean Water for Less
Rising populations and increased development in New Hampshire coastal communities have led to a decline in water quality in the Great Bay Estuary. Responding effectively and affordably to new federal permit requirements for treating and discharging stormwater and wastewater will require innovative solutions from communities in the area. In March 2015, the Water Integration for Squamscott–Exeter (WISE) project completed an integrated planning framework through which the coastal communities of Exeter, Stratham, and Newfields could more affordably manage permits for wastewater and stormwater. However, meeting maximum goals for nitrogen reduction will require collaboration and commitment from all municipalities in the watershed, whether regulated under the Clean Water Act or not. Introduction The New Hampshire Great Bay Estuary and portions of the tidal rivers that flow into it have been negatively impacted by human development. The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership has identified cautionary or negative conditions or trends in fifteen of twenty-two indicators of ecosystem health.1 In 2009 many parts of the estuary were listed as “impaired” by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) on measures such as nitrogen over-enrichment. Though nitrogen is naturally present in estuarine water, excess amounts support algae growth, decrease oxygen, and ultimately damage aquatic species. Permits now issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates discharges to surface water, require nitrogen controls as low as 3 milligrams per liter (mg/l)—the lowest technically feasible level—on effluent from wastewater treatment plants.2 Municipalities, EPA regulators, and community stakeholders are now discussing strategies that would allow communities flexibility to integrate permit requirements between wastewater and stormwater, and/or combine requirements among multiple permit holders in order to devise control options that might be more cost-effective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, New Hampshire Publication
Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise, and the Vulnerable Cultural Heritage of Coastal New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s ocean coastline, though small relative to that of other states, is a place where people have lived, worked, and died for thousands of years. It is home to numerous important cultural heritage sites,1 and its identity is tied in tangible and intangible ways to centuries of marine-based ways of life.2 Tourism to the region’s remnant historic heritage sites and cultural landscapes is a key factor in coastal New Hampshire’s strong demographic, social, and economic growth. Rockingham and Strafford, the state’s two coastal counties, accounted for $104.7 million, or well over a third (37.5 percent), of the state’s meal and room tax revenue in fiscal year 2014.3
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Conservation, Environment, New Hampshire, Rivers/Watersheds Publication
Continuity and Change in Coos County Results from the 2010 North Country CERA Survey
This brief from Chris Colocousis and Justin Young uses the most recent North Country CERA survey to focus on change and continuity in Coos County between 2007 and 2010, and then makes comparisons of the present conditions across the three study counties. The authors examine such topics as community problems, environmental and economic concerns, and community cohesion and confidence in the local government. They report that Coos County residents remain highly concerned about the lack of economic opportunities in the region, and their concern about population decline has increased in recent years. Coos residents see the economic future of their communities primarily tied to both recreation and traditional forest-based industries, though they have become somewhat more polarized with respect to levels of support for economic development versus environmental protection. The authors conclude that challenges stemming from the economic restructuring of the past decade have been deepened by the most recent recession, and issues of limited economic opportunities, financial hardship, and population decline have become more pronounced. As the North Country moves into the future, one of its primary challenges will be working out a balance between what can sometimes be conflicting demands on the region’s substantial natural resources.
New Hampshire Community, Economic Development, Environment, New Hampshire, Public Opinion Publication
Data Snapshot: Millennials and Climate Change
From more frequent flooding to heat waves and drought, adverse impacts from climate change are already being experienced. Scientists warn of worse impacts within the lifetime of many people alive today, if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. Although majorities in all age groups recognize the reality of climate change, awareness is highest among young adults.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Trust, Young Adults Publication
Data Snapshot: Public Acceptance of Human-Caused Climate Change Is Gradually Rising
Have recent extreme weather events in the United States shifted public opinion on climate change? In late summer and fall 2017, disaster headlines were common. Hurricanes caused damage along the Gulf Coast, and brought devastation to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The West experienced severe wildfires, with 2 million acres aflame at one point. Although attributing particular events to climate change is difficult, scientists have noted that such extremes are becoming increasingly frequent as climate warms.1
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Believe the Climate Is Changing? Answers From New Survey Research
This brief explores how political views influence Americans’ understanding and perception of science. The research is based on a national version of the Community and Environment in Rural America survey called NCERA, and on New Hampshire’s statewide Granite State Poll.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication
Do You Trust Scientists About the Environment?
In this brief, author Lawrence Hamilton examines the results of a Granite State Poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center in late January–early February 2014. The poll asked about public trust in scientists, along with other questions on science, political, and social issues that help to place the science-trust results in perspective.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Climate Change, Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion, Trust Publication
Drier Conditions, More Wildfire, and Heightened Concerns About Forest Management in Eastern Oregon
In eastern Oregon, a semi-arid region dominated by dry forest, warming over the past few decades is affecting the productivity and health of forests that are central to the region’s landscapes, economy, and culture. A warmer and drier climate will likely bring more frequent and severe wildfires and increase stress on water availability. The impacts will be significant both for natural resources and human welfare, especially in the Blue Mountains and adjacent communities. Public opinion surveys in this region show that recognition of human-caused climate change is low, but there is a high level of agreement that forest conditions are worsening and that wildfires pose a major risk. Support is high for active forest management (forest thinning, surface fuel reduction) and restoration to reduce the likelihood of dangerous, high-severity wildfires.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Forests Publication
Enduring Ties to Community and Nature: Charting an Alternative Future for Southeast Alaska
Like much of rural America, Southeast Alaska is confronting the social implications of both population declines and the downturn in natural resource-based industries. Although many residents have chosen to leave Alaska in the last decade, the majority have stayed. Strong social cohesion and intimate ties to the natural amenities of the region are what sustain rural Alaskans. It is these connections to people and place that may ultimately enable residents to create renewed and more resilient Alaskan communities. Examining the challenges faced by Southeast Alaska, this brief discusses ways to encourage community groups and governmental agencies to work collaboratively to craft a robust economic future for the region.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, Demography Community, Demography, Environment Publication
Environmental, Economic, and Social Changes in Rural America Visible in Survey Data and Satellite Images
This brief focuses on the changing landscapes of different types of rural America where social, economic, and ecological changes are occurring over large areas: the Northern Forest, Central Appalachia, and the Pacific Northwest. These three study sites embody varying historical reliance on land and natural resources and represent very different socioeconomic dynamics. Their common and unique challenges are explored, along with the far-reaching implications of land-cover change in their areas. Data used includes both telephone surveys and satellite imagery to illustrate the unique changes seen in rural America in recent years. (Please note that it is best to print this brief in color.)
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Forests, Rural Publication
Eyes Off the Earth?
Survey researchers have observed significant political divisions in the United States with regard to public trust of science related to evolution, the environment, vaccines, genetically modified organisms, and other topics. Conservatives are less likely than moderates or liberals to say they trust scientists for information on any of these topics.1 Some of the widest divisions involve climate change, an area where the Trump administration and conservatives in Congress have proposed steep reductions in research. For example, the president’s detailed budget proposal in May 2017 calls for cuts to the Earth science and education programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including termination of five Earth-viewing missions such as the DSCOVR satellite instruments which produced the image in Figure 1.2 Congressional efforts have also often targeted NASA Earth science.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Climate Change, Environment, Politics and Elections, Trust Publication
Forest Management and Wildfire Risk in Inland Northwest
This brief reports the results of a mail survey of forest landowners in northeastern Oregon conducted in the fall of 2012 by the Communities and Forests in Oregon (CAFOR) Project at the University of Colorado and the University of New Hampshire in cooperation with Oregon State University College of Forestry Extension.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Forests Publication
Forest Views
Residents of northeast Oregon were surveyed by telephone in an effort to assess individual perceptions of forests and natural resource management. Results show that residents are generally well informed about declining forest health, and they identify active forest management as a high priority. Just over half of residents support increasing public land use fees to pay for forest restoration activities, while only a minority support raising local taxes. Thus, creative policy solutions are likely needed to address the forest restoration funding gap. Residents were nearly unanimous in their belief that natural resources can be preserved for future generations and at the same time used to create jobs. Compared to a similar survey in 2011, a larger proportion of participants in 2014 prioritize renewable energy development over drilling and exploration for oil, an increasing percentage believe that environmental rules limiting development have been good for their communities, and fewer support the elimination of wolves. These shifts in public opinion appear to be due to changes in perceptions among longtime residents, rather than demographic changes, and suggest that communities may be more receptive to regulations and programs that address ecological restoration and stewardship goals, as well as climate change impacts.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Environment, Forests, Public Opinion Publication
Forest Views: Northeast Oregon Survey Looks at Community and Environment
This brief reports on a survey conducted in fall 2011 as one component of the ongoing Communities and Forests in Oregon (CAFOR) project. The CAFOR project focuses on the people and landscapes of three counties in northeast Oregon (Baker, Union, and Wallowa), where landscapes and communities are changing in interconnected ways.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change Community, Environment, Forests Publication
Forests in Flux
The New England states and New York are more than 50 percent forested, a rate well above the national average. Economies in this heavily forested region have historically relied on forest-based industries, and human population has clustered along coastal regions and major waterways, though recent trends suggest widespread in-migration to amenity-rich rural areas. Over the last decade, all states in this region have experienced notable declines in forest cover. In urban and suburban areas like southern New Hampshire, this loss of forest cover is likely related to increased demand for housing and services. It is also likely to be a permanent transition, since developed land rarely reverts to forest cover. Much of the forest cover loss in rural northern New England is due to commercial timber harvesting and is likely temporary, but in other portions of northern New England forest cover has declined consistently since 2001, and it is unclear whether this shift is the result of development or forest harvesting. These two types of forest cover change can have drastically different effects on the services local residents derive from forests. Because more developed regions have already lost much of their forest cover, a sustained loss of the remaining forestland has serious implications for vital ecosystem services like drinking water filtration, storm abatement, and air purification. This brief contributes to a better understanding of the linkages between demographic and forest cover change so as to inform policy efforts aimed at maintaining existing forested areas in and around sprawling urban centers.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, Forests, New England Publication
Granite Staters Weigh in on Renewable Energy Versus Drilling: Environmental Quality of Life Ranks High Across Party Lines
Since the fall of 2001, the University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center has been conducting the Granite State Poll—a statewide, scientific survey of public opinion and behavior concerning policy issues—via telephone interviews with random samples of New Hampshire residents about four times each year.
Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire Environment, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Public Opinion Publication