Help Protect NH Loons

Loon with Sunfish : Prints Available

A Common Loon (Gavia immer) with a sunfish it caught while hunting on a pond in southern New Hampshire. This adult was catching fish to feed its chick.

This week, New Hampshire State Bill 89 may make it’s way to the New Hampshire state senate. SB-89 is a bill that proposes banning the use and sale of toxic lead fishing tackle weighing one ounce or less, and it’s passage will help protect common loons from lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is the leading known cause of death for loons in the state of New Hampshire. Loons typically consume toxic lead in one of two ways: they either ingest the weights thinking they are pebbles, which they consume to aid in digestion, or they get lead into their system when eating fish that have lead fishing gear attached to them or in their stomachs. Poisoned loons then die a painful, suffering death. Because loons are slow to mature, have small clutch sizes, and expend a huge amount of energy in raising and caring for their chicks, these unnatural deaths have caused decreases in the loon population and continue to threaten the survival of these beautiful birds.

I cannot think of a single reason not to vote in support of SB-89 and these increased restrictions; there are a number of viable alternatives to lead that can be used for small sinkers and jigs, and their continued use is irresponsible.

More info about loons, lead poisoning, and SB-89, including what you can do to help, can be found here: http://www.loonbill.org/getinvolved.html.

Common Loon : Prints Available

A Common Loon (Gavia immer) in its handsome black and white breeding plumage swims on the calm surface of a pond in southern New Hampshire.

The Loon Preservation Committee is a great organization that advocates for the protection of these beautiful birds in New Hampshire. I was able to connect with them last summer and they were helpful in providing me with some information about loons in NH. Unfortunately, I was unable to spend as much time working with them as I wanted, but hope to continue a project to document and advocate for loon conservation in the northeast with their help. For more info, visit http://www.loon.org/.

Growing Up : Prints Available

A baby Common Loon (Gavia immer) begs its parent for some food. This youngster is growing up and white and dark gray feathers are starting to replace its mousey gray-brown down.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nuclear Power Plant

I live in a beautiful restored farmhouse in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, just six miles or so (as the crow flies) from an aging nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont. Vermont Yankee, nestled on the banks of the Connecticut River, opened its doors to power production in 1972, and its 40 year contract is set to expire next month. The nuclear reactor has been the subject of much debate; everyone seems to worry about the plant’s future. Many want to see it shut down, citing various environmental and health concerns and also controversial court decisions that some say pit the state against the federal government.¬†Others worry about what will happen if the plant closes, fearing the loss of jobs and increased taxes that will result, as well as other economic and social impacts.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, VT has inspired much debate over its 40 years of operation. Many think the plant should be shut down, but some locals worry that the impacts of shutting the plant down would be worse than its continued operation.

This weekend, I teamed up with photographers from the Vermont Center for Photography to learn a little bit more about Vernon and the people that live there. We spanned the small rural Vermont town, photographing and interviewing local farmers, business owners, town officials, and activists. Our goal was to tell the story of Vernon, not just Vermont Yankee. As we learned, there is more to the town than one nuclear power plant.

We found ourselves so inspired by what we heard, that a couple of the other photographers and I ended up working round-the-clock to piece together a multi-media presentation of our work, and more importantly, their stories. Just 27 hours after we began shooting, we presented a very rough version of at an open forum to discuss Vermont Yankee led by photojournalist Michael Forster Rothbart at the Vermont Center for Photography yesterday. Now, after roughly 36 hours of shooting, audio and photo editing, and compiling the final presentation, our piece is nearly complete; I am just waiting on final approval from my colleagues to show it to the world. Once all are happy with the final edit, which I completed at roughly 12:30AM last night, I will share the link to the video on my blog and website.

Stay tuned!