Environment

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Homeowners interested in switching to solar energy will soon have the option to do so with no upfront costs. The nation’s largest rooftop solar installer is coming to Rhode Island. Starting this week, California-based SolarCity will offer Rhode Islanders loans to buy home solar systems.

SolarCity will offer homeowners in 10 Rhode Island cities and towns loans to buy solar panels for their homes with no money down. Homeowners would pay for the loan in monthly installments, said Lee Keshishian, the company’s vice president for its East Coast operations.

J.T. Owens Park will soon be home to a small orchard, in tribute to a Providence neighborhood that once existed at the site. A group of local nonprofits and residents are planting the fruit trees today.

The West Elm neighborhood in the southwestern part of Providence was bulldozed in the early 1960s to build an industrial park. That displaced more than 500 families in one of the first racially integrated neighborhoods in the city, according to Holly Ewald, artistic director of UPP Arts, one of the groups organizing the event.

Todd Ugine / Cornell University Department of Entomology

Scientists have confirmed a sighting of a rare ladybug at Rocky Point in Warwick.  The nine-spotted ladybug, once common in the eastern U.S. has almost disappeared. Volunteers with the Rhode Island Natural History Survey found one of the ladybugs during an expedition last year.  Natural History Survey Executive Director David Gregg says Warwick is not a place he would have expected to make a scientific find.

    

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Department of Environmental Management has announced the closure of two areas in Charlestown; trails through East Beach and Ninigret Conservation Area. The trails are closed as of Tuesday, to protect Piping Plover nesting areas. 

The small shore bird is endangered and makes its home in the Ocean State.

RIPR File Photo

The Rhode Island School of Design is the first university in the state to pledge to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

  Board Chairman Michael Spalter said the trustees studied the issue for two years after a student campaign. He said ultimately they felt it was the right move and voted unanimously for the change.

RIPR File Photo

Town officials on Block Island are calling the recent deer hunting season a success. Local hunters took down more than 400 deer.

Block Island has a high incidence of Lyme disease, transmitted by the bite of a deer tick. So last year the town of New Shoreham and the Department of Environmental Management hired a professional sharpshooting company, Connecticut-based White Buffalo, Inc., to curb the island’s large deer population. But the project fell through.

RIPR FILE

A bill attempting to phase out cesspools takes a major step forward this week. The Rhode Island Senate approved the bill.

The bill would require homeowners selling their properties to replace their cesspools with any system that handles and treats human waste, like a septic system. That’s a hole in the ground that receives untreated human waste from a building. It can contaminate groundwater and local waterways.  

Meg Kerr, Rhode Island director of Clean Water Action, said the bill has come before the General Assembly for a number of years now.

Courtesy of Peter Green / Audubon Society of Rhode Island

On Thursday morning three peregrine falcon chicks were banded atop the Bank of America building in downtown Providence.

Jeff Hall, senior director of advancement at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI), was there to assist. He said falcons have been nesting at the Superman Building for 15 years now, making this a yearly spring ritual.

Rhode Island has received $1 million dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency to help clean up local brownfields; areas contaminated by toxic substances.  The money will go toward cleaning up areas in Pawtucket, Central Falls and Providence.  

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The nonprofit Ocean Conservancy mobilizes an international beach cleanup each year. The results from the most recent cleanup are in. 

In Rhode Island, volunteers collected more than 16,000 pounds of trash along 59 miles of the state’s shoreline last September. Save the Bay’s July Lewis says the number one item is always cigarette butts.

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.

RIPR File Photo

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.

RIPR FILE

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.

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