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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 …

Bird Sightings

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Audubon Society has reported a variety of recent bird sightings in western Massachusetts. A short-billed dowitcher was found in the town of Washington. An upland sandpiper, a marsh wren, American pipits,and a Connecticut warbler were in Northampton. Over the last two days, more than 2,500 broad-winged hawks …

Heading Outdoors

Friday, September 19, 2014

∎■ Skinner State Park — Department of Conservation and Recreation sponsors free programs at Joseph Allen Skinner State Park, Route 47, Hadley: Sept. 20 and 21: 11:30 a.m., 1:30 and 3 p.m., Summit House Tour (meet at Summit House); Sept. 22: 10 a.m., Advanced Hike for Seniors (meet at …

Valley Views Local photographers aim their cameras outdoors

Friday, September 19, 2014

FEMALE WOOD DUCK Route 9, Belchertown Photograph and text by Anne E. Ely of South Hadley During breeding season the male wood duck is brightly colored, but the female is quite plain, with the exception of a bit …

Has ethanol lived up to its promise?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dear EarthTalk: I thought that putting ethanol in our gas tanks was going help fight climate change, but lately I’ve heard reports to the contrary. Can you enlighten? — Bill B., Hershey, Pennsylvania Ethanol and similar “biofuels” made …

Northfield Mountain hydroelectric plant seeks to boost storage capacity during winter

Thursday, September 18, 2014

NORTHFIELD —Owners of the Northfield Mountain hydroelectric project have sought permission to change its operating license temporarily this winter to boost storage capacity of its mountaintop reservoir so the region’s power supply can have additional capacity. The application filed last month by FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. to the …

The Regulators: MassDEP enforcement notes, violations, fees, orders

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

IN THE NEWS Inspector general blasts Near Earth Objects program CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA’s effort to identify potentially dangerous space rocks has taken a hit. On Monday, the space agency’s inspector general released a report blasting NASA’s Near Earth Objects program, which is meant to hunt and catalog …

Study shows leaky natural gas wells, not fracking, tainted groundwater in Pennsylvania and Texas

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — The drilling procedure called fracking didn’t cause much-publicized cases of tainted groundwater in areas of Pennsylvania and Texas, a new study finds. Instead, it blames the contamination on problems in pipes and seals in natural gas …

Groundbreaking research in Arctic leads UMass professor Julie Brigham-Grette to head Polar Research Board

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

AMHERST — Studying glacial geology is a tantalizing mystery that can offer up a treasure trove of information if you know how and where to dig, believes University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Julie Brigham-Grette. “It’s like trying to …

Northampton tree survey volunteer gets a lesson in identification skills

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Before volunteering in the Northampton tree surveying project last weekend, I would have guessed that a “London plane” was something that flew in and out of Heathrow Airport. Now, thanks to a group of dedicated arborists, …

earth matters An encounter with a doddering old friend

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A river, where not constrained by cliffs, tends to wander. Small irregularities in a bank eroded by river water are the beginnings of meanders in the river. Loops cut off from the river become oxbow lakes, and as …