Vermont Research Newsletter: Floods, Ferns, Horror Movies and more…

Integrating stories into policy-making
Local storytelling has a substantial impact on the ways in which residents in communities strive to make sense of climate-related events. In a recent survey, Waterbury residents blamed government institutions for flooding based on perceptions that government entities had historically valued industrial or recreational uses of the rivers over protecting residents from floods. The study urges city planners to integrate these stories into future climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts to more effectively communicate and collaborate with local residents.

Support for local schools leads the nation
In Vermont, 89.3% of total revenues available for public elementary and secondary education comes from the state, the second-highest in the country, after Hawaii. As a result, only 4% of revenues come from local government. Revenue from the state government, as opposed to the local government, helps to minimize inequality among public schools.
Studying suicide in Vermont’s Bhutanese refugee population
Vermont’s Bhutanese refugee population are at elevated risk for suicide. A recent study aims to address the problem of the under-identification of Bhutanese refugees at risk for suicidal behavior by differentiating suicidal ideation and a desire to be dead. Many participants in the study expressed a desire to be dead with no suicidal ideation. Taking both of these risk factors into account in mental health screenings will help to better serve this population.
Mercury in birds does not match atmospheric levels
Concentrations of mercury found in the blood of Bicknell’s thrush and Swainson’s thrush do not emulate mercury levels in their surrounding environment, a new study finds. For example, mercury deposition on Mansfield peaked in mid-summer, during a period when thrush blood Hg concentrations consistently declined. This means that in an environment with high levels of mercury, it shouldn’t be assumed that the animals in this environment will also show these levels as well. Further research into the atmospheric deposition of mercury is needed, according to the study.
Adolescent cancer prevention
Preventive behaviors established during adolescence can reduce cancer throughout the life span and Vermont ranks 5th in adolescent cancer prevention, according to a national study. Key factors in Vermont’s score include higher fruit and vegetable consumption, higher rates of HPV vaccination, and low rates of smoking.
Vermont bees prefer wildflowers
When given the choice between a native herbaceous plant species and a cultivar of the same species, both honey bees and wild bees prefer the former. In particular, Vermont bees don’t like daffodils, tulips, and heathers. Vermont is home to 270 species of bees, which are crucial to pollination in both managed and unmanaged ecosystems.
Mental health beds needed
The state of Vermont needs up to 35 inpatient mental health beds to meet current and future needs, according to a new study by the University of Vermont Health Network. The number of days psychiatric patients spend in the emergency room increased by over 28.6 percent from 2015 to 2016 and then spiked again by 29.7 percent from 2016 to 2017. If 26 new beds were added, 98 percent of patients that should have received inpatient care but were treated in an emergency setting would no longer have to wait for a bed.
Ferns thrive in certain places
Adiantum Viridimontanum, commonly known as the Green Mountain Maidenhair Fern, is actually a hybrid of two other ferns, A. Aleuticum (Aleutian maidenhair fern) and A. Pedatum (northern maidenhair fern). These two ferns thrive in different habitats and their hybrid species appears to thrive in habitats that mix attributes of its progenitors. Thus, Green Mountain Maidenhair Fern thrives in habitats that are unsuitable for both Aleutian Maidenhair Fern and Northern Maidenhair Fern. According to the article, A. Pedatum complex appears to include elements of niche intermediacy and niche expansion.
Vermont and skin cancer
Vermont has low levels of harmful sun exposure, which makes Vermonters less likely to get skin cancer, a new study finds. While skin cancer is usually attributed to overexposure of ultraviolet irradiance, this is only one component of sunlight. In addition to ultraviolet irradiance, Vermont has some of the lowest averages for global horizontal irradiance (GHI), erythemally weighted daily dose of UV irradiance (EDD) and erythemally weighted UV irradiance at local solar noon time (EDR). The study also found that total solar irradiance increased significantly in all states from 1991 to 2012 except for in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, North Dakota, and Montana.
What would Senator Aiken do?
In a new book, former Aiken staffer Steve Terry explores Aiken’s childhood in Putney, his career in Vermont politics and his 34 years as a U.S. Senator. In the current climate, it is shocking to think that the Republican Aiken met his Democratic counterpart every day for breakfast. And it was Aiken and a group of other senior Republican Senators who convinced Richard Nixon that resignation was his only choice. Terry and his research assistant, UVM student Louis Augeri talk about these issues Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7:00 at UVM. You can also hear them talk about Aiken in our podcast episode, “The Life and Legacy of Senator George Aiken”.
Vermont Folk Horror Roadshow
Land Grant Colleges
A new book explores the formation of land grant colleges with direct stories from the challenges of creating this new system, including resistance that Vermont Senator Justin Morrill was eventually able to overcome. Called Land-Grant Colleges and Popular Revolt: The Origins of the Morrill Act and the Reform of Higher Education, the book is written by Nathan M. Sorber, the director of the Center for the Future of Land-Grant Education.
Vermont and the Equal Rights Amendment
The latest version of Vermont History contains articles on the Battle of Bennington and the 1884 election as well as an in-depth look at state efforts to approve the Equal Rights Amendment. In this article historian Marilyn Blackwell looks at the individuals, organizations, arguments, and rhetoric of the campaigns for and against ratification of the federal and state Equal Rights Amendments in Vermont. To order a copy of Vermont History, Vol. 83, No 2, contact the Vermont Historical Society.
Anti-Slavery crusader
The new autumn edition of the Bennington Museum’s Walloomsack Review features a major article on William Lloyd Garrison, the 19th-century anti-slavery crusader who briefly published a newspaper in Bennington before he began his 35-year national editorship of The Liberator. The article includes a list more than 20 active Vermont abolitionists. This 25th edition of the Walloomsack Review also includes a description of the violent Anti-Rent Wars in nearly New York, and the story of East Dorset poet Mark Whalon’s wry attitude toward eugenicists of the early 1930s. To order a copy, contact the museum store at 802 447-1571 Ext. 208. The price is $4.95 plus postage.