Environment & Weather
MillionTrees Project Grows to Halfway Mark! PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Natalie Linville-Mass   
Tuesday, 29 May 2012 14:42

This spring, with the help of 800 volunteers, including an AmeriCorps NCCC team, Living Lands & Waters (LL&W) packaged and distributed over 140,000 oak tree saplings to community members, schools, park districts, and businesses within 13 different states throughout the country.  Over 350 volunteers helped LL&W wrap 24,500 saplings at the QCCA Expo center over a 6-day period in March.  Along with the wrapping and distribution, LL&W also hosted community plantings in Peoria, IL and Des Moines, IA.

 

Living Lands & Waters began the MillionTrees Project (MTP) in 2007.  In the past six years, 476,000 tree saplings have been wrapped, handed out, and/or planted with the help of over 3,000 volunteers.  The main goal of MTP has been to plant one million trees to provide shelter and a viable food source for wildlife and migratory birds, increase biodiversity, help reduce run-off and erosion, and to improve water and air quality.  The planting and distribution of oak tree saplings also helps repopulate devastated areas such as Joplin, MO after the tornado, Southern Illinois after the inland hurricane, and Cedar Rapids after the tremendous flooding.  Tree handouts are held on Earth Day at several schools to bring awareness about the importance of trees and their environment to the students as well.

 

The AmeriCorps NCCC team, stationed out of Vinton, IA, worked side by side with Living Lands & Waters for two months and contributed so much to the organization’s mission.  The journey started when the team joined forces with LL&W to clean up a portion of the Mississippi River during LL&W’s Alternative Spring Break in Memphis, TN.  The Americorps NCCC, also known as Maple 1, then stopped off at LL&W’s nursery in Beardstown, IL to help harvest 20,000 saplings and prepare the beds for next season. Maple 1 was a huge asset to LL&W’s MillionTrees Project this year, doing everything asked of them including wrapping, packaging, distributing, and planting.

 

LL&W is looking to establish a new nursery in the Quad Cities where 150,000 acorns will be planted in the first year.  Volunteers will be needed to assist with the upkeep and harvesting of this nursery.  For more information, visit LL&W’s website at www.livinglandsandwaters.org or call the MillionTrees Project Coordinator, Ashley Stover, at 309.737.5913.

 

Chad Pregracke started Living Lands & Waters in 1998 as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the beautification and restoration of America’s major rivers and to the education of people about environmental issues. From his single boat beginning, LL&W has grown to an internationally known organization with a fleet of barges and workboats.  LL&W engages thousands of volunteers each year in river cleanups, hands-on environmental education workshops, the Great Mississippi River Cleanup, Adopt-a- River-Mile programs and the Million Trees Project.

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The World's Waters Are Becoming Corrosive to Critical Marine Life. Is Time Running Out to Save our Oceans? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by E - The Environmental Magazine   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 12:36

The oceans do a lot of the Earth's dirty work. On a given day, they will absorb 22 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), a third of the global output. In doing so they help to keep climate change in check, but they also pay a heavy toll as a result.

Increasing levels of carbon in the ocean are making the water more acidic, and that's beginning to have an impact on shellfish, corals and some of the tiniest shell-making marine organisms that are essential to the ocean food web. The June 2012 issue of E - The Environmental Magazine (now posted at www.emagazine.com) takes a closer look at the phenomenon of "ocean acidification," the process by which levels of CO2 are rising, changing the chemistry of the ocean, and the ways this is impacting sea creatures on which mankind depends.

Shellfish farmers in Washington and Oregon were some of the first to sound the alarm about ocean acidification. In 2006, hatchery-produced oyster larvae began to die off, despite their controlled and monitored environments. The two largest oyster hatcheries -- which supply seedling to the majority of West Coast oyster farmers -- lost between 60% and 80% of their larvae. Through ocean monitoring, the farmers discovered that the pH had fallen enough to make the water too corrosive for the oysters to form shells.

Once the problem was identified, shellfish farmers were able to take precautions -- such as waiting to fill tanks following a north wind when upwelling causes corrosive water to rise to the surface. But in the open ocean, there are no quick fixes for ocean acidification.

"A lot of things we like to eat have these calcium carbonate shells and they're very sensitive to acidification," says Richard Feely, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL). "Just a small drop in pH can cause the shells to begin to dissolve. It turns out that for many of these species, the larval and juvenile stages are much more sensitive than the adults. And we're finding that they can die off quite rapidly even with the kinds of changes that we're seeing right now."

One of the most serious threats posed by ocean acidification is to corals -- marine animals that need carbonate ions to form their skeletons. During ocean acidification, CO2 sinks into the water and releases hydrogen ions which combine with carbonate ions, making them unavailable to the shell- and exoskeleton-making creatures that need them.

"There have been a lot of studies showing that under ocean acidification scenarios corals and other organisms on the reef calcify at a slower rate," says Davey Kline, Ph.D., a coral reef ecology expert at the University of Queensland in Australia. "Even with just a little less growth, the corals can be tipped into these situations where they're getting eroded faster than they can grow and the reefs start to dissolve."

Coral reefs are already at risk from pollution, development, overfishing and warming waters as a result of global warming. Ocean acidification may be the final stressor that pushes them into extinction. The most recent report on reef health -- Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2008 -- found that 19% of coral reefs were already lost, 15% were in a critical state with loss possible within a decade or two, and 20% could be lost in 20 to 40 years. "If we continue on the trajectory that we're currently at," says Kline, referring to unchecked global emissions, "we will lose reefs as we know them."

The impacts of a world without reefs would be profound. The estimated net global value of reefs is $29.8 billion per year, and reefs provide essential work in protecting shorelines from storm damage, providing a home to one million species and offering new sources of medicine to treat everything from cancer to arthritis.

There are certainly local solutions, including designating marine protected areas to at least minimize the stresses on coral reefs in light of global warming and ocean acidification. But any major solution to keeping ocean acidification from further threatening our oceans and its inhabitants needs to involve a global agreement for keeping emissions in check -- something that, despite the warning signs, seems oceans away.

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E - The Environmental Magazine distributes 50,000 copies six times per year to subscribers and bookstores. Its website, www.emagazine.com, enjoys 150,000 monthly visitors. E also publishes EarthTalk, a nationally syndicated environmental Q&A column distributed free to 1,850 newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the U.S. and Canada (www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek). Single copies of E's May/June 2012 issue are available for $5 postpaid from: E Magazine, P.O. Box 469111, Escondido, CA 92046. Subscriptions are $19.95 per year, available at the same address.

 
Secretary Vilsack to Hold Media Conference Call on Mississippi River Basin Water Quality and Wetlands Projects PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by USDA Communications   
Wednesday, 23 May 2012 07:54

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2012—TOMORROW, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host a media conference call to announce investments this year in financial and technical assistance for five water quality and wetlands improvement projects in seven Mississippi River Basin states. When fully implemented, the projects will prevent sediment and nutrients from entering waterways, decrease flooding and improve bird and fish habitat. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service estimates that this investment will restore 11,400 acres to wetland habitat.

 

USDA works with state, local, and Tribal governments and private landowners to conserve and protect our nation’s natural resources – helping preserve our land, and clean our air and water.  President Obama launched the America’s Great Outdoors initiative in 2010 to foster a 21st century approach to conservation that is designed by and accomplished in partnership with the American people.  We are working to better target conservation investments: embracing locally driven conservation and entering partnerships that focus on large, landscape-scale conservation.

 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1:45 p.m. EDT

 

WHO: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture

WHAT: Media conference call on Lower Mississippi River Basin Water Quality and Wetlands Projects.

 
EPA Launches Competition for College Students to Develop Innovative Approaches to Stormwater Management PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Ernesta Jones   
Friday, 18 May 2012 14:04

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching a new design competition called the Campus RainWorks Challenge to encourage student teams on college and university campuses across the country to develop innovative approaches to stormwater management. Stormwater is a major cause of water pollution in urban areas in the U.S., impacting the health of people across the country as well as tens of thousands of miles of rivers, streams, and coastal shorelines, and hundreds of thousands of acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds. The competition will help raise awareness of green design and planning approaches at colleges and universities, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers in green infrastructure principles and design.

 

Student teams, working with a faculty advisor, will submit design plans for a proposed green infrastructure project for their campus. Registration for the Campus RainWorks Challenge opens September 4, and entries must be submitted by December 14, 2012 for consideration. Winning entries will be selected by EPA and announced in April 2013. Winning teams will earn a cash prize of $1,500 - $2,500, as well as $8,000 - $11,000 in funds for their faculty advisor to conduct research on green infrastructure. In 2013, EPA plans to expand Campus RainWorks by inviting students to design and complete a demonstration project assessing innovative green infrastructure approaches on their campus.

 

“Reducing stormwater pollution requires innovative approaches and America’s college students are incredibly creative and talented,” said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “The Campus RainWorks Challenge will engage students across the country in tackling one of the toughest challenges to clean water and show them the opportunities in environmental careers.”

 

EPA is encouraging the use of green infrastructure as a solution to help manage stormwater runoff. Green Infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater runoff at its source and provide other community benefits, including economic development.. Green infrastructure is increasingly being used to supplement or substitute for single-purpose “gray” infrastructure investments such as pipes, and ponds. The Campus RainWorks Challenge will help encourage the use of green infrastructure projects on college and university campuses to manage stormwater discharges.

 

More information on the Campus RainWorks Challenge:

http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/crw_challenge.cfm

 
Dancing Polar Bear World Record PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Sierra Club   
Wednesday, 16 May 2012 09:02

One Million for the Arctic

One Million Voices for the Arctic

Right now, Shell Oil drillships are on their way to the Polar Bear Seas in America's Arctic. These seas are home to polar bears, walruses, whales, and seals, and a spill there would be disastrous.

We have one last chance to stop this dangerous drilling. More than a million people have expressed their opposition to Shell's drilling plans, and today we're delivering their messages to President Obama -- and flooding the White House with calls.

Add your voice by calling the White House now.

 
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