September 2014 
Congratulations to Santa Andujar for her winning image
Northern Water Snake
In This Issue
ANR Secretary 
Deb Markowitz
From the Secretary's Desk: Clean Water, Prosperous Vermont

When I turn on the tap in the morning to brush my teeth, I take for granted that the water flowing into my sink is safe to drink. When I swim in the local pond I don't worry about getting sick. When I go fishing (fly-fishing is my midlife diversion!), I don't stop to think about whether the stream is healthy enough for the fish to thrive.

Like most Vermonters, I don't often stop to think about the importance of clean water to our economy and way of life. As the Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources I know well that Vermont's economic success is grounded in our well-managed natural resources. Businesses rely on access to clean water - including our farms, microchip manufacturers, the outdoor industry, our breweries and more; and communities with well-managed natural resources, particularly clean water, are more attractive to live in, and better places to invest. 

Invasive Species Update:
50th Invasive Species Identified in Lake Champlain
Spiny water flea accumulate on fishing line
On August 28th, an interstate group of scientists, conservationists and natural resource professionals working on the Lake Champlain Basin Program initiative announced that the invasive species Spiny Water Flea has been confirmed in several locations within Lake Champlain. Another blow for an already troubled water body, the spiny water flea is the first aquatic invasive zooplankton to be confirmed in Lake Champlain, and the 50th exotic invasive species to be identified in the Lake. Read more...
Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation: Forestry
The Science Behind the Spectacle: Why Do Leaves Change Colors?
 - By Steve Sinclair, Vermont Division of Forests
Photo credit: Santa Andujar
A perennial question posed to foresters this time of year is, "why do the leaves change colors?" Those reds, oranges, yellows and browns are influenced by three primary factors: day length, weather, and leaf pigments. The timing of color change is primarily regulated by day length, or rather night length at this time of the year.  As the days get shorter, the amount of sunlight the leaves receive is reduced. With less exposure to the sun, the process of photosynthesis begins to slow.  Weather conditions such as temperature and amount of rainfall also play a role, but it is primarily the result of nights getting longer and cooler that initiates the biochemical process in the leaf that causes its colors to begin to change. Read more . . . .
Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation: State Parks
Vermont State Parks Are Your Resource For Autumn Adventures!
 - By Jenny Montagne, State Parks
The air is growing colder and the leaves are changing, which means we are transitioning to fall. After a particularly warm and sunny summer, the fall offers a change of pace and a chance to relax, unwind, and play outside in our beautiful state. Half of Vermont State Parks are fully operational and spending a fall day or night at a park has unique advantages.  Read more . . . .
Dept. of Fish & Wildlife:
Loons Post Record Year for Nesting Success, Bald Eagle Nesting Down
- By John Hall, F&W
Nesting bald eagles were challenged by a lingering winter


Vermont's loon population had a record year for nesting success, producing 65 fledglings, or chicks that survived to leave the nest, on lakes and ponds throughout the state.


Loons faced dramatic declines in the 20th century mostly due to shoreline development and human disturbance of loon habitat, but were removed from Vermont's endangered species list in 2005 following decades of recovery efforts.


Peregrine falcons, which also were removed from Vermont's endangered species list in 2005, saw similarly strong nesting success this year.  Read more . . .

Department of Environmental Conservation:
DEC Staff Encourage Public to Embrace EPA's SepticSmart Week (Sept. 22-26)
 - By Chris Russo, Dept. of Environmental Conservation Permit Compliance
Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 55% of Vermont homes and businesses utilize private on-site septic systems (wastewater systems) to treat wastewater? The national average is 25%.
Beginning today, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Drinking Water & Ground Water Protection Division staff are embracing EPA's "SepticSmart" week as an opportunity to educate system owners of the importance of understanding and properly maintaining their systems.
 Read more . . . .
September Photo Contest Winners Announced!
Second Place Winner: Jeff Fountain

This month's winner Santa Andujar managed to catch the beautiful image of a northern water snake (newsletter header photo) swimming at Shelburne pond. What a tranquil image, and what an amazing experience to stumble upon one of these beautiful (and non-venomous) reptiles. For a great read on the northern water snake, check out this recent article about them in Northern Woodlands Magazine.

Santa Andujar maintains a prolific and varied collection of wildlife photos on her Instagram page, under the tag @rebelphoto. She has been featured in our contests before, and in particular her amazing photos of birds are a staff favorite.

Other winners are as follows:

Second Place: Jeff Fountain (@bigbearvt on Instagram) for his image "sunflowers" 
Third Place (tie): ANR staff member Chloe Viner for her photo of sunning turtle and frog
Third Place (tie): Santa Andujar for her image of a monarch butterfly

Readers can view all winning images as well as honorable mentions here

Congratulations to all our talented photographers!
Fun Facts:
8 Fun Facts About Fall Foliage
Photo credit: Jeff Fountain
1. Leaves of some trees, such as birches and aspen, are always yellow, never red. Fall leaves of a few trees, including the sugar maple, are usually red but may also be yellow.
2. The  most intense fall colors occur in areas such as Vermont (and the rest of New England), with stands of a few types of deciduous trees, such as maples and birches, turning color at the same time during the short fall season.
3. The most varied fall color, as well as the longest lasting, occur in areas such as the southern Appalachians, where a dozen or more kinds of trees may change color at slightly different times over the longer fall season.
4. Bright sunlight is essential for the production of red pigment in the fall leaves. If a black mask is placed on part of a leaf before it turns red, the part of the leaf under the mask will turn yellow while the exposed part turns red.
5. The most vivid colors on tree leaves can typically be observed after a succession of very warm sunny days in autumn, which in turn give way to cold, but not freezing, nights.
6. The change in day length that causes the chemical changes in the trees leading to the bright colors starts June 21, the longest day of the year, as the sun starts to move south and the days become shorter. This is one reason that southerly locales experience a later foliage season than northerly regions.
7. The tamarack tree is the only coniferous deciduous tree in Vermont - it sheds its yellow needles each fall, and grows new, green needles in the spring.
8. Deciduous trees drop their wide, flat leaves in order to conserve both water and energy over the long, dark winters, as well as to protect against breakage from ice and snow events. The shedding of leaves may also help trees to pollinate come springtime. Without leaves to get in the way, wind-blown pollen can travel longer distances and reach more trees.
Did You Hear?
News Worth Mentioning
Announcing a New Vermont Project Learning Tree Website!

Vermont's Project Learning Tree has a new website! Find information about upcoming environmental education professional development opportunities, read inspirational stories about educators sharing outdoor lessons while accomplishing learning standards, and learn about the latest PLT news including new curriculum materials, student resources and grant opportunities on the new Vermont Project Learning Tree website. Project Learning Tree is an award-winning environmental education curriculum for preschool to grade 12. Find out more by visiting

Applications Now Being Accepted for the 2015 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence
Applications are now being accepted for the 2015 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence. The awards recognize the actions taken by individuals and organizations to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and to promote sustainability. The Vermont Governor's Awards were established in 1993, and to-date more than 200 award winning efforts have been recognized. 

"The Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence recognize and publicize innovative and effective efforts to conserve and protect our natural resources in Vermont," according to ANR Secretary Deb Markowitz. 

Applications are due Feburary 2, 2015 and award winners will be recognized in a ceremony in the spring. For more detail on the application process and previous award winners see: or email
We are Looking For Participants for our ANR Photo Contests:
Photo by Chloe Viner

This month, although we had plenty of images to choose from, only five photographers submitted entries for our ANR photo contest. We know that there are folks out there enjoying Vermont's natural resources with camera in-hand, so we would love to see participation grow. If you know someone, amateur or professional, who might be interested in sharing their photos with our audience, please share this call for photos with them. Rules and full photo contest details can be found on our photo contest homepage. Our readers consistently share that they enjoy the beautiful images from around Vermont that we include, and yet we cannot continue to do so without your participation. As always, all images share will be credited to the original photographer. 

Underground Storage Tank TALK Newsletter a Resource: If you are an owner or operator of an underground storage tank, you should know about Talk, a quarterly newsletter published by the Dept. of Environmental Conservation's Waste Management & Prevention Division, and geared toward owners, operators and managers of underground storage tanks. Topics range from new industry trends (unstaffed gas stations), to certification and compliance announcements, to tips and best practices. You can view archived issues of the Talk Newsletter here, or if you would like to subscribe, contact
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