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Swallowtails and Purples Abound at Stoney Ledge
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
04:33PM / Sunday, August 05, 2018
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A monarch sips nectar from a lily. Its wings can brush against the flower's stamen and anthers, spreading its pollen to the next flower. ADAMS, Mass. — The winding trail out to Stoney Ledge on the slopes of Mount Greylock is wide enough to allow sunlight to penetrate the high leafy canopy above, creating light gaps where wildflowers abound that attract assorted butterflies.    The tiger swallowtail is the sole swallowtail here in late June through mid-July, and quite numerous, leading to a surprising estimate in the thousands for the whole Greylock mountain range and neighboring valleys. Swallowtails looping and fluttering through the green woodland in this great

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Environment Massachusetts Releases 'Roadmap' To 100 Percent Renewables
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:45AM / Wednesday, July 25, 2018
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State Director Ben Hellerstein is urging lawmakers to "go big" with policies to quickly roll out renewable energy technology.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Environment Massachusetts is pushing for Massachusetts to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources.   On Tuesday the organization joined with those heading local renewable energy projects to release its agenda, or roadmap, to do so.    "We could produce 19 times as much electricity as the state consumes each year from offshore wind. From solar power, we can get 47 percent of the state's electricity just by putting solar panels on every rooftop in the state - to say nothing of larger,

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Hoosic River Host to Mother Merganser and Ducklings
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
03:58PM / Sunday, July 01, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — What came as a complete surprise while I was surveying wildlife at the Hoosic River was an armada of little ducklings paddling to keep up with their mother merganser. I had heard of ducks laying up to 12 eggs per nest, but 16 fuzzy red heads all in tight single file seemed incredulous. Perhaps she had taken on another missing mother gander's offspring.    As time passed, I counted five ducklings able to catch a ride on mamma's back, while the rest paddled wildly behind, reminiscent of loons carrying baby loons while crossing an upland lake. This sighting is my first for river mergansers and caused in me a reserved jubilee, a quiet

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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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