Category Archives: Plants, Pests, Rescue

We need Green Infrastructure, and EPA infographic shows why

EPA GI infographicThis EPA infographic may just be the mother of all Green Infrastructure elucidations. It shows many different ways to incorporate GI in communities and how this helps us conserve water, reduce energy use, reduce flooding risks and make both buildings and Planet Earth, cooler.

Wikipedia‘s Green Infrastructure definition is pretty empty: it doesn’t help us paint a mind picture of what GI is.

Green Infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature.

But American Rivers helps us understand the scope and relevance of Green Infrastructure.

Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure is effective, economical, and enhances community safety and quality of life.

It means planting trees and restoring wetlands, rather than building a costly new water treatment plant. It means choosing water efficiency instead of building a new water supply dam. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller levees.

Green infrastructure incorporates both the natural environment and engineered systems to provide clean water, conserve ecosystem values and functions, and provide a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.

NatGeo invites you to share a photo to celebrate bio-diversity

celebrate biodiversityBetween May 15-25 go outside and take a photo of a wild insect, bird, animal, plant or fungus –anything as long as it’s wild – then post it to National Geographic’s Great Nature Project. You can upload at the GNP website or through or … there’s an app for that!

Use the iNaturalist App for Android or Apple to post your fotos right from the app.

Want your tax dollars spent to kill 2.7 million wild animals again this year?

refugeweek97-with TrumanNew data from the highly secretive arm of the U.S. Agriculture Department known as Wildlife Services reveals it killed more than 2.7 million animals during fiscal year 2014, including wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals deemed pests by powerful agricultural, livestock and other special interests.

Despite increasing calls for reform after the program killed more than 4 million animals in 2013, the latest kill report indicates the reckless slaughter of wildlife continues, including 322 gray wolves, 61,702 coyotes, 580 black bears, 305 mountain lions, 796 bobcats, 454 river otters, 2,930 foxes, three bald eagles, five golden eagles and 22,496 beavers. The program also killed 15,698 black-tailed prairie dogs and destroyed more than 33,309 of their dens.

“It’s sickening to see these staggering numbers and to know that so many of these animals were cut down by aerial snipers, deadly poisons and traps,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These acts of brutality are carried out every day, robbing our landscapes of bears, wolves, coyotes and other animals that deserve far better. Wildlife Services does its dirty work far from public view and clearly has no interest in cleaning up its act.”

Agency insiders have revealed that the agency kills many more animals than it reports.

Many animals – especially wolves, coyotes and prairie dogs – were targeted and killed on behalf of livestock grazers or other powerful agricultural interests. Wildlife Services does not reveal how many animals were wounded or injured, but not killed.

The new data also show that hundreds animals were killed unintentionally including 390 river otters, as well as hundreds of badgers, black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, jackrabbits, muskrats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, porcupines and 16 pet dogs.

The data show that the federal program has refused to substantially slow its killing despite a growing public outcry, an ongoing investigation by the Agriculture Department’s inspector general, and calls for reform by scientists, members of Congress and nongovernmental organizations.

“Wildlife Services continues to thumb its nose at the growing number of Americans demanding an end to business as usual,” said Atwood. “This appalling and completely unnecessary extermination of American wildlife must stop.”

Just since 1996 Wildlife Services has shot, poisoned and strangled by snare more than 27 million native animals.

Birds & wildlife require native plants and their bugs

chickadeesIt’s a funny thing, but completely logical when you think about it. One strong environmental indicator that a polluted body of water is clearing up, is birds returning to spend time around it. Birds eat insects and fishies, which don’t thrive in heavily polluted waterways. So when those creatures return, birds are the next neighbors to move in.

Something similar happens in neighborhoods where native plants are present. I learned at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve that an insect automagically knows the difference between a native plant and an imported one (called an exotic) that look identical to us. Insects are able to eat plants that are native to their ecosystem but they cannot eat the pretty plant that looks the same but is from a different part of the world.

The result of planting native plants or fostering their growth, is an explosion in the bird and wildlife populations of your neighborhood. This lovely New York Times Op-Ed piece explains in very accessible language exactly why this is true. Contributor Douglas W. Tallamy makes a nice case for why we should care enough about this phenomenon to stop planting for aesthetics alone and instead, consider the overall ecological benefits of the plants we choose to nurture and introduce to our own local ecosystem – which they will make or break.

On a side note and of especial interest to journalists, take a look at the photo inset featured in my screenshot. This is the first time I’ve seen an inset be a link to a photo gallery – access it by clicking anywhere in the inset area.

Free Right Tree – Right Place Seminar in Somerset County

Right tree in right placeThe New Jersey Tree Foundation and Public Service Electric & Gas are offering a free seminar in Somerset County on May 8: Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place, the Right Way in a post-Superstorm Sandy world which addresses

  • Picking the right tree for any location and planting it the right way
  • The importance of utility mark-outs prior to planting
  • Emerald Ash Borer – It’s here!
  • Vegetation management policies to ensure safe and reliable delivery of electric service

Who should attend? Mayors, Freeholders, DPW Supervisors, Environmental & Shade Tree Commissioners, County Officials and any other interested parties. This seminar is worth 2 Continuing Education Units for towns with a 5-year Community Forestry Management Plan.

Date: Friday 08 May 2015
Time: Registration opens 9:00am. Program runs 9:30am – 11:45am
Place: Bridgewater Municipal Building, 100 Commons Way, Bridgewater NJ.

Please RSVP by Friday, May 1 by emailing Lisa Simms at Please include name and email address for each attendee. Light refreshments will be served.

tree growth guide

The Arbor Day Foundation offers a robust tree placement assessment resource.

Wolves change rivers & revitalize an entire region

white wolf
Wolves are eco-engineers and their land stewardship establishes boundaries for deer … So vegetation grows again, trees sprout high, soil erosion stops and river banks become stable, which leads to rivers changing course. The Yellowstone River region revitalizes from just one small pack of wolves being re-introduced after 70 years absence.

Hat tip to Sally Gellert for this excellent find

Watch a village rescue an upside down elephant

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 1.15.25 PMIt took a whole village to rescue this upside down elephant. A young male had fallen into a ditch back down and was dug in there. Enter a team of IFAW Animal Rescue Workers with shovels, who dig around the little big guy until he had enough room to right himself by rolling over. While they worked, residents of the nearby village turned out to watch from tree perches and surrounding terrain.

When he is able to rise to his feet, the little guy heads off for the jungle … ambling … the way elephants do.

Ashéninka activists killed protecting Peru’s forests

A naturalist and expedition guide stands on a pile of timber illegally logged from the rainforest.
Anti-logging native Peruvian activists Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Leoncio Quinticima Meléndez were killed 01 September 2014 by illegal loggers. Take Part comments:

National Geographic described Chota as “a charismatic activist who opposed drug traffickers and criminal timber syndicates that have come to operate with a sense of near-total impunity across broad swaths of Peru’s isolated borderlands.” All four men were leaders in Alto Tamaya–Saweto, a community of the Ashéninka indigenous Amazonian tribe. Although the Peruvian government has made three arrests in the case, other Ashéninka activists have told reporters of receiving death threats in the wake of the assassinations.

In The Guardian, Alex Soros shares more about this story and tells of an important financial assistance program being offered to Peru by Norway. After the Ashéninka activists’ deaths, Norway signed a contract with the Peruvian government to pay USD$300 million over 6 years if deforestation is “curbed”. The annual Alexander Soros Foundation Environmental Defenders prize was awarded to the activists in 2014.

El pasado 01 de setiembre se murieron cuatro activistas indígenas Peruanos protegiendo al territorio de su gente y país.

Edwin Chota Valera, Jorge Ríos Pérez, Leoncio Quinticima Meléndez y Francisco Pinedo, asháninkas pertenecientes a la comunidad de Alto Tamaya-Saweto en la región Ucayali, fueron asesinados la semana pasada. Los presuntos autores del crimen serían madereros ilegales de la zona … el líder indígena Edwin Chota y otros dirigentes de su comunidad han denunciado en repetidas oportunidades la presencia de madereros ilegales en sus tierras.

Sign petition to Attorney General of Peru calling for protection of indigenous community from violence and investigation of the murders of four native anti-logging activists.

Firmar petición de Amnistía Internacional pidiendo al Fiscal de la Nación y al Ministro del Interior Peruanos que aseguren una investigación imparcial e inmediata de los asesinatos de los activistas asháninkas … y exigiendo protección para los demás miembros de su comunidad.

Locally grown: good for family health & family farmers

fresh local produceBuy locally grown to save the environment and your family’s health by reducing shipping impact, which reduces climate change. Buying local also supports small, family farmers.

Rutgers U Jersey Fresh Information Exchange says

Lucky for us in the Garden State, we can buy Jersey Fresh produce that really is “fresh off the farm”. Unlike the big production states, where the considerations in farming methods are how to get the crop to you over long distances, Jersey Fresh products are picked at the peak of ripeness and can be on your table the same or next day! This gives the environment a breather because there are fewer fossil fuels consumed to ship products, and less packaging is needed to protect produce for short trips.

Here’s a list with some NJ Farmer’s Markets.