Environment

Kyle Bedell via Wikimedia Commons

The Roger Williams Park Zoo this week revealed its 20-year master plan to renovate the zoo in three phases.

  Last year voters approved a bond that set aside $15 million to cover the cost of the zoo renovation’s first phase. Each phase, which will add new exhibitions, will cost $25 million. The first phase will include a new rain forest building and a new education center. The old education center will be repurposed to a reptile house, the first one in New England, said Roger Williams Park Zoo Executive Director Jeremy Goodman.

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Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivered his 100th climate address this week on the Senate floor. He’s inviting people to join him in a Google Hangout video conference tomorrow to mark the occasion.

    

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will join the president of the League of Conservation voters to talk about the threats climate change poses to the environment, public health, and economy. They’ll talk about some of the steps the United States is taking—and still needs to take—to combat climate change.

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Deepwater Wind has entered into a 20 year contract with Rhode Island Fast Ferry out of North Kingstown. The ferry service will provide a vessel to help conduct maintenance on the Block Island wind farm which will be built by Deepwater Wind. The boat will be built by Blount Boats from Warren.

Jeff Grybowski, the CEO of Deepwater Wind said the contract will create some eighty jobs in Rhode Island.

Robin Angliss / NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to continue to monitor daily the three beluga whales exploring Narragansett Bay. Biologists want to make sure they return safely back to their Arctic habitat.

Courtesy of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Later today, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse delivers his 100th address on climate change. In what has become a weekly ritual, the Rhode Island democrat takes to the Senate floor to call for action on climate change. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza caught up with Whitehouse at the Volvo Ocean Race in Newport to talk about what motivates him and what he’s learned since he delivered his first speech three years ago.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Sailors competing in the Volvo Ocean Race are attesting to the growing amount of trash found in the ocean. They’ve reported plastic debris getting stuck on their rudders and keels, slowing down their boats. That was the catalyst for a summit focused on ocean debris during the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Newport.

Sailor Dee Caffari, with Team SCA, has been sailing for 10 years, but she notes the trash has been most prominent along the new routes in this race around the world. What’s most heartbreaking, Caffari said, is witnessing the negative impact trash has on marine creatures.

Hans-Petter Fjeld / Wikimedia Commons

In regional news, the Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon, known as the “king of fish,” is one of eight marine species most at risk for extinction in the near future. The fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just announced a new campaign to beef up efforts to help these endangered species survive.

NOAA Fisheries biologist Tara Trinko Lake said the Atlantic salmon were once abundant as far south as Connecticut, but they started to decline in the late 1800s from dams, overfishing, and pollution.

Ed Hughes / Audubon Society of Rhode Island

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island is leading free daily birds walks this month, during the height of spring migration, all over the state from North Smithfield to Coventry to South Kingstown.

At this time of year, male birds are sporting bright colored plumage to attract mates. Jeffrey Hall, the organization’s senior director of advancement, points out that trees aren’t lush with leaves yet. 

Three beluga whales spotted in Narragansett Bay are healthy adult males, likely from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. 

(Video courtesy of Matt Jarbeau)

Courtesy of Northeast Fisheries Science Center / NOAA

Oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb all the carbon emissions humans release into the air. And it could impact the Atlantic seaboard’s scallop industry, which brings in hundreds of millions of dollars. A team of researchers is working to predict just how bad the damage might be.

Researchers with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit Ocean Conservancy unveiled a computer program that analyzes data on changes in the ocean, the scallop population, and the economy.

Photo Courtesy of the Coastal Resources Management Council

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has selected the University of Rhode Island (URI) to be one of two partners in its Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence.

URI is already working on a number of research and policy projects related to coastal resiliency, said Tom Miller, director of administration at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography. Miller said this partnership is an opportunity to broaden the university's reputation with the federal government when it comes to its expertise on coastal and climate issues.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is the latest group to award grants that will support water quality projects in the state.

Eight projects that range from improving fish passages to restoring public access to the shoreline will benefit from more than $65,000 in grants. Tom Borden, director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, said the money comes mostly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey.

grifo via Creative Commons License

The Rhode Island Department of Health did a comprehensive analysis to figure out which drinking water sources are most vulnerable to climate change to help water suppliers plan for the future. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza sat down with the June Swallow, chief of the Office of Drinking Water Quality at the state health department. She oversees the project called SafeWater Rhode Island

URI/RI Sea Grant

With more than 500 public drinking water suppliers in the state, the Rhode Island Department of Health is worried about how they will cope with climate-related changes like intense rains, rising seas, and warmer temperatures. For the next installment of our series, Battle With The Sea, environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza heads to Newport, home to one of the most vulnerable drinking water supplies in the state when it comes to climate change.

RIPR file photo

The push to phase out cesspools in Rhode Island continues. Many environmental advocates are testifying at a senate committee this late afternoon to support a bill that would require homeowners to remove their cesspools when they sell their homes.

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