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FILE - In this v file photo, hospital personnel with the help of the relatives of the avalanche victims, shift the body of a victim onto a stretcher at a morgue at Teaching Hospital in Katmandu, Nepal. Nepal vowed to introduce new rules, improve weather forecasts and better monitor the movement of trekkers after the Himalayan country’s worst hiking disaster last week left dozens dead. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)

Nepal vows new rules after trekking disaster

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

KATMANDU, Nepal — Nepal on Tuesday said it will introduce new rules, improve weather forecasts and better monitor the movement of trekkers after the Himalayan country’s worst hiking disaster left dozens dead last week. Tourism Department official Tulasi Gautam said trekkers venturing to mountain trails will be required to take trained local guides, and will have to rent a GPS …

Plainfield, Ashfield, Buckland join to seek state grant reducing cost of installing solar panels for residents, businesses

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

With 133 households interested in installing solar-electric systems on their homes, the newly formed Ashfield-Buckland-Plainfield consortium has applied for a “Solarize Mass” grant that would cut the cost of electricity-producing solar panels by up to 20 percent below the statewide average. If the consortium’s application is among the 10 to be awarded by the state next month, residents and businesses in these towns …

'In a year or two, they'll all be dead' Tiny insect is killing off Northampton's red pine trees

Monday, October 20, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A tiny insect the size of a fleck of pepper is wreaking havoc on red pine trees in the city’s watershed lands, forcing the Department of Public Works to hire a forester to survey the trees and develop a harvesting plan for early next year. Known as red pine scale, the …

Two agencies intervene in request by Northfield Mountain hydroelectric station to increase winter storage capacity

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Two local agencies are intervening in a proposal to temporarily allow the Northfield Mountain hydroelectric station to boost output by pumping and releasing more river water at its mountaintop reservoir. The Franklin Regional Council of Governments and the Connecticut River Watershed Council have filed a joint intervention in …

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves streamlined review of proposed gas pipeline

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a request by the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. to use an expedited “pre-filing” process for its proposed Northeast Energy Direct project. That prompted an immediate letter from U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, expressing his “extreme disappointment” in the decision and the …

Valley Views Local photographers aim their cameras outdoors

Friday, October 3, 2014

YELLOW LEAVES AND REFLECTIONS Mill River Recreation Area, North Amherst Photograph and text by Julius Lester of Belchertown In this part of the world, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins when nature is making its transition from …

Reducing threats to air quality

Friday, October 3, 2014

Dear EarthTalk: What are some of the more dangerous threats to our air quality and what can be done to eliminate them so we can all breathe more easily? — Melanie Smith, Pomfret, Connecticut The main threats to …

Bird Sightings

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Audubon Society has reported a variety of recent bird sightings in western Massachusetts. A blue grosbeak has been seen off and on this week in the Arcadia Meadows of Northampton. A grasshopper sparrow, a yellow-billed cuckoo and …

Reports: China body-searched 10,000 pigeons

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

BEIJING — The 10,000 doves released in a ceremony Wednesday for China’s National Day underwent unusual scrutiny, each having its feathers and anus checked for dangerous materials, state-run media reports said, reflecting government jitters over possible attacks. The …

Operator of region’s electricity grid supports request by Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage for increased winter capacity

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The operator of the region’s electricity grid is backing plans to pump more Connecticut River water through the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage hydrogenerator this winter. Northfield Mountain’s owner, FirstLight Power, wants federal approval to boost the capacity of its generator station by 22 percent to augment the electricity …

Hampshire Power will supply Lowell with locally produced renewable energy in first-of-its-kind deal

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — In what its leaders believe is a first-of-its-kind agreement, the Hampshire Council of Governments has signed a deal to supply power to the city of Lowell solely through renewable energy produced in New England. The state’s fourth-largest city has signed a contract through which Hampshire Power …

‘Ghost riders’ draw scrutiny for transit systems

Sunday, September 28, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Transit agencies across Pennsylvania are being scrutinized by the state over the subsidies they claim for transporting riders 65 and older, with at least four agencies being docked millions for inflating senior ridership numbers. Criminal charges are pending against two high-ranking employees of the transit …

Miraculous migrations in the insect world

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Now that summer is behind us, many Valley residents are making plans for trips to warmer climes during the colder months and students are migrating back to college. But we aren’t the only creatures traversing thousands of miles …