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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Leaving the leaves helps wildlife thrive, VT gardens grow

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Wednesday, October 4, 2023   

Autumn leaves will soon be falling and a growing number of homeowners in Vermont are willing to leave them on the ground.

A new survey from the National Wildlife Federation found a majority of people recognize the vital habitat a leaf layer provides for moths and insects, which birds need to survive.

David Mizejewski, naturalist for the National Wildlife Federation, said leaves also help suppress weeds and improve the quality of soil.

"Sounds an awful lot like mulch and fertilizer," Mizejewski noted. "But we've been trained by the garden industry to get rid of all the leaves and then go buy mulch and fertilizer."

Mizejewski emphasized keeping even some of the leaves on the ground reduces the amount of yard waste in landfills, where they produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Still, the survey showed many homeowners simply prefer the look of a freshly raked lawn while others are required to remove leaves by their homeowners association or municipality.

Kristina MacKulin, executive director of the Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association, said she has seen an increase in people opting for a more natural look to their yard, while others rake leaves into the garden to better insulate plants for winter.

"Some people prefer to just rake them up and use them in their own personal compost pile," MacKulin observed. "That is a great addition to anybody's compost pile as well."

MacKulin added too many leaves will smother a lawn and just a few inches of cover is best for both plants and wildlife in the grass and garden.


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