Summer 2020

  Most birds start singing just before sunrise, and in June, that means 4 a.m. Dave Cowan had already cleaned up his campsite and was close to the summit of Maine’s Baker Mountain when he heard a flute-like “shreee.” “It was a Bicknell’s thrush,” Cowan, a longtime volunteer for the Vermont Center for Ecostudies Mountain…

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  Mount Washington was feeling benevolent on the afternoon of August 14, 1945, and 14-year-old Hugh Dunphy was taking advantage of the mountain’s good mood. Dunphy was part of a crew of about 12 campers and counselors from Camp Ropioa in Harrison, Maine, that was hiking toward Washington’s summit under clear skies and mild temperatures—and…

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  Measuring a person’s carbon footprint includes a number of factors. Choices we make, from the food we eat, to the products we use and industries we support, to the distances we travel, play into the amount of greenhouse gases we add into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide,…

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  From his backyard in Augusta, Maine, astronomer Jon Silverman can look into the night sky and see light emitted from stars hundreds, thousands, even millions of years ago. Anyone can. All it takes to see light coming from, say, the Andromeda Galaxy, our closest galactic neighbor at 2.5 million light-years away, is a simple pair…

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One of every three bites of food we eat comes from a plant that was pollinated by something. Despite their size, pollinators—those tiny bees, birds, bats, and insects that aid in the reproduction of plants by carrying pollen from one flower to another—are vital to the success of a healthy ecosystem. “We’ve come to a…

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Three months after many Americans began physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, most states are beginning the slow process of reopening their economies and public spaces. For outdoor enthusiasts, this means a return to some natural recreational areas that haven’t been accessible for the last several months. But despite the urge to get…

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  Every day, the average American family uses 300 gallons of drinking water, for consumption, bathing, cooking, laundry, and other household chores, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Where that water originates and how it is cleaned are questions we rarely consider, though, and we forget that much of the process starts at the…

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  I’m standing in the dining room at AMC’s Madison Spring Hut, and even though it’s late August, I can’t get warm. Two friends and I have just returned from Mount Madison’s 5,366-foot summit, where a sturdy gale-force wind battered our sweat-soaked bodies already weary from a climb that covered 3,500 feet of elevation in…

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  For more than four decades, Ken Powley has made his living on the Lehigh River. The founder of Whitewater Challengers, a whitewater rafting company in Weatherly, Pa., Powley has guided thousands of visitors over rapids, through a forested gorge and rugged terrain reminiscent of the famed whitewater rivers of the West. For Powley, this…

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Whether it’s a bag stuck in a tree or a bottle floating in a pond or stream, litter of single-use plastics is not only an eyesore; it is damaging to the natural environment, endangering our trails and waterways. Each year, the nonprofit Break Free from Plastic—a “global movement working to stop plastic pollution for good”—sets…

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