Senator Hassan Sierra Club Breakfast 2-21-17
Nearly 150 Attend Breakfast to Hear
US Senator Hassan and Experts on Local Climate Impacts
DURHAM, NH – Maple syrup is a New Hampshire institution, but climate change could have tragic impacts on the future harvest.
Nearly150 concerned Granite Staters attended Local Climate Impacts Pancake Breakfast: Maple Syrup and Forests Impacts on Tuesday, February 21st at UNH in Durham.
While everyone loves to pour maple syrup on pancakes, experts discussed the changes and interruptions to the traditions, landscapes, industries and even the science behind the sweetest harbinger of spring. The potential impact could have devastating ripple effects on the Granite State tourism economy, the cottage industry on farms and sugar bushes throughout the state, and the forests overall.
US Senator Maggie Hassan spoke in recognition of the climate trends and in support of climate action:
“Our natural resources define us as a state and are critical to our economy, our environment, and our way of life in New Hampshire,” Senator Hassan said. “We are already seeing the real impacts of climate change on our environment – including on our maple syrup and ski industries. The Climate Change Impact Breakfast is an important opportunity to raise awareness about how a changing climate is negatively impacting the Granite State, and I commend everyone in attendance for your commitment to protecting our environment and our state. In the Senate, I’m committed to building on your efforts by working across the aisle to achieve a cleaner environment and a stronger energy future that will help our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.”
Local maple syrup producers also spoke in recognition of the unpredictability of a once predictable season.
Ray LaRoche, the owner and operator of Maple Meadow/LaRoche Farm in Durham, has observed highly variable weather trends over time that present challenges to maple sugar production.
“The cycle of cold temperatures at night and warmer temperatures during the day that are best for maple sugar production are less predictable than in years past. Warming temperatures have lowered the sugar content of maple syrup, and that means more sap is needed to make the product,” stated Mr. LaRoche. “It used to take 25 gallons of sap to make a gallon of pure maple syrup, and now it takes 50 gallons. Producers need to adapt to these changes with new farming techniques, particularly in the southern regions of our state.”
Jeff Moore, owner of Windswept Farms in Loudon serves on the board of the NH Maple Producers Association, spoke about the strong economic engine that maple production provides to the rural areas of the state; as well as, the regional bottling and packaging operations located in the state.
“The maple sugaring industry in New Hampshire is an important part of our identity, culture, and economy, employing nearly 1,000 people in our state and accounting for more than $150 million in economic activity each year,” Mr. Moore added. “We need to take care of our environment to make sure that the maple sugaring industry continues to flourish.”
Cameron Wake, Ph.D., Research Professor, Climatology and Glaciology, the Josephine A. Lamprey Professor in Climate and Sustainability, UNH Sustainability Institute, spoke about the climate trends as recorded by the institution.
“The warming trend we are witnessing is much more apparent in the winter,” stated Dr. Wake. “While warmer winters seem appealing to some, there are a number of consequences in the environment and in day-to-day life, some of which can already be seen in New Hampshire. Consequently, there is an amount of climate change we are going to have to adapt to.”
Saving Sap, the award winning film by director Ian MacLellen and written by Elodie Reed, was shown at the start of the breakfast. Locally sourced maple syrup was served with pancakes. Maple Syrup Weekend sponsored by the NH Maple Producers Association is scheduled for March 25-26 this year.
Attendees were asked to take action to reduce the source of the climate changing pollution by taking several types of actions. The actions included writing letters in support of the national health-based protections called Clean Power Plan and a petition asking Governor Sununu to maintain the power plant pollution reducing regional program, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
The Climate Impacts Maple Breakfast is sponsored by Moms Clean Air Force, Environment New Hampshire, Union of Concerned Scientists, League of Conservation Voters, and New Hampshire Sierra Club, in partnership with the UNH Sustainability Institute.