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Cecropia, Our Sylvan King
By Tor Hansen, Guest Column
07:15PM / Wednesday, June 20, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — So majestic is Hyalophora cecropia in appearance and biology that our sylvan king of the realm is a fitting title.   Just how this regal silk moth can engineer survival despite an inborn handicap is to its credit all the more remarkable. That such a resourceful creature can change form, starting with a tiny egg advancing to an enticing armored caterpillar, to a slumbering pupa inside a silken cocoon, emerging transformed into a wondrous moth is totally amazing.     Cecropia is an ancient moth, but its remote origin remains a mystery. So named by the father of binomial nomenclature, the taxonomist Carrolus

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State House Passes Act That Helps Preserve Family Farms
02:46PM / Monday, June 18, 2018
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BOSTON — State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli joined state Rep. Kate Hogan of Stwo and colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a bill that aims to preserve family farms across the commonwealth.

H.3915, An Act to establish estate tax valuation for farms, would change the method for assessment of the estate tax valuation for agricultural land. Pignatelli, of Lenox, worked with Hogan to include the agricultural estate tax reform bill as part of a larger environmental bond bill that seeks to address the commonwealth's climate change preparedness and response plans.

"The agricultural estate tax is possibly one of the most important pieces of legislation

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Pittsfield Inching Closer to Decision on Plastic Bag Ban
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:02AM / Tuesday, June 05, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City officials are slowly getting closer to rendering a decision on the plastic bag ban.    Attorney Rinaldo Del Gallo proposed a ban on single-use plastic bag -- specifically the bags used at the checkout of grocery stores -- a little over five years ago. Pittsfield would have been at the forefront of the effort but during the time it has kicked around the legislative process, 79 other communities in the state have passed bans.   Del Gallo said he'd even like to build on the petition by adding a surcharge for customers who use paper bags, an incentive to encourage residents to go with reusable bags. But, given the length of time it has been

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Spring Harbinger Butterflies Abound on Mount Greylock
By Tor Hansen, Community Submission
05:44PM / Saturday, April 28, 2018
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ADAMS, Mass. — Under azure blue skies our sun is warming the ground story all around the woodlands of Mount Greylock, and the native butterflies are responding. Drawn out of winterlong hibernation, resident species are actively flitting about, searching for mates, and sipping both ground moisture and sap from oak and beech trees.

As April warmth pervades the trailside glens, as winter's remnant snows remain and recede, one may find joy in witnessing these showy denizens basking in vernal warmth, and dashing and zooming hither and yon, in pursuit of conjugation or coupling so to procreate their progeny or offspring.  

  Here nature shows us

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Pittsfield Highlights Tree Planting Program To Honor Arbor Day
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
05:00PM / Friday, April 27, 2018
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Laurie Reid outlined the state's Greening the Gateway Cities program.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The state has planted more than 1,100 trees throughout the city over the last two years.

And, in honor of Arbor Day, one more was added to the total.

"At the end of 2017, Pittsfield, so far, has been planted with 1,173 trees through the Greening the Gateway Cities program. Statewide, Greening the Gateway Cities program last year has planted 11,637 trees," Laurie Reid, a forester with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, said.   "The program's goal is to plant 10 trees per acre within our planting area. It will increase the urban tree canopy by 5 to

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State, Federal Officials to Showcase Housatonic River Projects
05:16PM / Tuesday, April 24, 2018
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LENOX, Mass. — State and federal environmental officials will host an open house on May 1 to showcase restoration projects funded as a part of the first three rounds of the Massachusetts Housatonic River Watershed Restoration Program.    The open house will also include a discussion of the anticipated fourth and final round of funding for restoration projects to compensate for natural resources that were injured or lost as a result of the release of hazardous materials from the General Electric facility in Pittsfield into the Massachusetts portion of the Housatonic River watershed.    The Massachusetts Subcouncil of the Housatonic River Natural Resource Trustees

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Pittsfield Subcommittee Continues Debate On Plastic Bag Ban
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:25AM / Monday, March 12, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The proposed plastic bag ban will remain at the subcommittee level for councilors to wordsmith the ordinance and consider alternative bag options.   After two hours of conversation on Monday, the Ordinance and Rules subcommittee voted to table the five-year-old proposal. The councilors heard from GXT Green, a company which manufactures biodegradable bags, about providing an alternative bag option for retailers and the Health Department raised concerns about the enforcement policies.   The bulk of the conversation revolved around Michael Vanin, chief operating officer for GXT Green, who made a presentation regarding his bags. He said the bags do not break

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Pittsfield ConCom Approves Plans For Former Itam
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:48AM / Friday, March 09, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The new owners of the former Italian American Lodge have revised their plans to handle environmental concerns about its redevelopment.   Eric Taylor purchased the Sons of Italy property for $1.1 million in January and is intent on transforming the aging building into a wedding destination. He received a building permit to renovate the facility and has been seeking approval to expand parking, build an addition, and install a patio area. That, however, took place in the wetlands buffer zone and needed Conservation Commission approval.   Neighbors raised concerns about the impacts from the removal of dozens of trees, an extension of the building, additional

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Mass Delegation Calls on Pruitt to Uphold Rest of the River Plan
Staff Reports,
01:16PM / Friday, February 09, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The region's congressional delegation is pushing Environment Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to uphold the EPA's 2016 order that contaminated material in the Housatonic River be "shipped off-site to existing licensed facilities for disposal."   U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal have sent a letter to Pruitt calling on him to ensure General Electric lives up to its commitments in the $613 million "Rest of the River" cleanup.    Keeping the contaminated soil and sediment in the county would save GE roughly $250 million.    GE, once a powerhouse in Pittsfield,

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Richmond Celebrates Renovation of Town Beach, Boat Dock
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:02AM / Tuesday, November 07, 2017
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The work included a new station to place a boarding dock for easier access to kayaks and other boats. RICHMOND, Mass. — The state completed a $95,000 renovation of the town beach and boat dock.   The Department of Fish and Game's Office of Fishing and Boating Access spent this summer improving drainage, adding handicap access, creating fishing stations, and building a new dock for easy access into kayaks and other boats.    "It is a heck of an upgrade. It is nice to have the platform that allows folks on and off the water in a safe fashion," Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon said on a rainy Monday when state officials celebrated the

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