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South County's Becker Pond Dam Makes Priority Project List
04:22PM / Thursday, December 06, 2018
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MOUNT WASHINGTON, Mass. — Restoration of a mile of Schenob Brook and the removal of the Becker Pond Dam have been named as priority projects for the state.    The Baker-Polito administration made the designation on Thursday for Schenob Brook/Becker Pond Dam Removal Project along with 11 other river and wetland restoration projects across the commonwealth.   As priority projects through the Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration, they are now eligible for technical services, including data collection, engineering, design work, permitting, project management and grants.   "Ecological restoration is an important tool for local

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Good Science at Work Inside Butterfly Magical Wings
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
04:57PM / Sunday, November 25, 2018
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  I walked down the road on Mount Greylock that leads to a parking lot for trekkers who want to traverse trails through the deciduous woodlands where the manifold wonders of nature unfold.   All around me were untold numbers of buds about to burst from their winter dormancy. Trilliums at ground level were showing tiny green leaves, not yet revealing their triad flowers so deep red or white, remindful of the three-cornered hats worn during Colonial days. Spring beauties were carpeting the forest floor with their jolly pink and white blossoms. And perusing the naked branches before the buds leaf out, I found a Cecropia moth's silken cocoon spun on a low-lying

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Merlins Abide at Spruces Park
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
05:30PM / Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Look aloft, for I hear wings stirring the air and the primeval cry of a falcon in the spruce!   Also known as pigeon hawk, a family of merlin falcons occupies a significant niche in the open meadow known for its tall Norway spruce, seeded when these 38 acres was formerly a thriving mobile home park.   While I was surveying this moist meadow for butterfly diversity, both resident and migratory, walking the dirt roads between weedy quadrants, I heard a deliberate outcry from above, and looked up to behold some large hawk-like birds swiftly flying between the tall spruces that punctuate the grassy meadow like solemn sentinels.    A

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Hidden Bio-Gem Discovered at Mountain Meadow
By Tor Hansen, iBerkshires columnist
05:22PM / Sunday, August 26, 2018
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Another image of the northern pearly eye found at Mountain Meadows and enhanced by Erik Hansen. WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — As I walked up the grassy trail to Mountain Meadow Preserve, I was soon in for a big surprise.   Following a zigzag erratic flight of what looked like a common little wood satyr, a closer look when it roosted on a blade of grass before I could close the shutter, what flew off turns out to be a heretofore unlisted satyrid for Mountain Meadow, the multi-Argus-eyed northern pearly eye.   Enodia anthedon is hard enough to find on Cape Cod, my former home for more than 30 years, let alone here in the Berkshires.   Watch carefully the sylvan fringe where

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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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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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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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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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