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The Monarch caterpillar eats one thing and one thing only — milkweed. There are 130 species of milkweed in North America, but none after an American farmer gets through spraying his crop with the herbicide glyphosate, better known as RoundUp. Read the full article by clicking here.
Adirondack Winter Road Maintenance Conference Concludes: Participants Want Clean Water, Safe Winter Roads
PAUL SMITHS, N.Y. – Road salt is accumulating in the watersheds of the Adirondack Park and salt levels in Adirondack streams are higher than in urban areas, according to new research unveiled at a winter road maintenance conference here.
However, an official from Colorado told the group that his state has made significant changes in its road maintenance programs that reduce road salt damage to the environment, while keeping roads safe in similar extreme winter conditions.
In response, local officials in attendance said immediate action should be taken to reduce the use of road salt. In addition, a group of volunteers agreed to form a new Road Salt Alternative Working Group to study the total costs of alternative winter road maintenance techniques and their impact on roads, bridges and water quality.
The working group will also examine rights-of-way in the Adirondacks to see where natural mechanisms like sunlight and passive filtering could be used to assist with snow and ice removal, while better protecting local waters.
The group will identify funding sources for further studies of ground water contamination and salt toxicity, for public education, and for training of state and municipal employees. A follow-up meeting will be scheduled soon.
"We made a lot of progress," said Lee Keet of AdkAction.org, a co-sponsor of the conference. "Nearly 80 town, county, and state leaders met with representatives of the leading environmental and research organizations. We all agreed to work cooperatively toward solutions that keep roads safe, while protecting water from contamination."
"Our research clearly shows that road salt is accumulating in our watersheds and that salt levels in Adirondack streams can exceed those encountered in urban areas," said Dan Kelting, Executive Director of the Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute. "These results strongly suggest that our groundwater is being contaminated with road salt, which is a threat to human health, and further our aquatic ecosystems may be experiencing toxicity."
"Everyone agreed that we already know enough about the damage road salt is doing to take action to reduce our use of it," said Rocci Aguirre, Conservation Director of the Adirondack Council. "Water quality, human health, wildlife, roadside trees, roads, bridges and guiderails are
all suffering damage. We can stop that damage, but we want to make sure we keep our roads safe too."
More information is needed on the toxicity of alternative chemicals; the impact current salting has had on ground water; and, the implications of any chemical use, including road salt (sodium chloride), on human health.
Participants also agreed that we lack sufficient data on the cost of current practices, notably the destruction of vehicles and infrastructure that salt creates and the comparative cost of alternative strategies, including abrasives such as sand.
The conference included presentations by:
Department of Transportation (DOT) officials from New York and David Weider from the DOT in Colorado, each offering different views on the use of de-icers;
Research teams from the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies (Millbrook) and the Adirondack Watershed Institute (Paul Smith's College);
Local officials who helped create an experimental porous-pavement project next to Lake George as an example of one non-chemical approach to keeping roads clear of surface water and ice;
A leading legal expert who reviewed the liability issues associated with changing current methods and techniques in an attempt to reduce salt use and increase safety;
Specific actions proposed by the participants include improving communications between the various state, county, and municipal agencies involved in winter road maintenance. A new look at road design was listed as an imperative, particularly seeking the "low hanging fruit" that can be implemented at low cost such as better management of run-off, passive filters, and where possible opening up the tree canopy to let the sun do more of the de-icing job.
A five-year plan to adopt these new technologies was suggested, including additional test runs to try techniques used elsewhere, e.g., the use of liquid magnesium chloride in place of sodium chloride, the technique used successfully by Colorado.
"The conference was a great success," said William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council. "We are excited about the broad interest in this topic across state agencies, local government, scientists, park residents and environmental organizations. We can reduce the use of salt while keeping roads safe and protecting clean water, infrastructure and public health."
The conference was co-sponsored by AdkAction.org, the Adirondack Council, and Paul Smith's College.
Conference materials, speaker bios, and attendees are located here.
For twenty years Monarch numbers have been declining steeply. Last year no monarch butterflies were reported in the Adirondacks, and none were sighted in the annual butterfly count at Lake Placid. This year Monarchs have shown signs of a comeback in the North Country and elsewhere, but they have a tough period ahead if they are to continue their age-old flight back and forth to Mexico where they winter. Read Marsha Stanley's article about the Monarchs and The Power Of One by clicking here.
Genetically Engineered Crops Are Major Driver in Population Crash
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.
"Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range," said Lincoln Brower, preeminent monarch researcher and conservationist, who has been studying the species since 1954.
"We're at risk of losing a symbolic backyard beauty that has been part of the childhood of every generation of Americans," said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The 90 percent drop in the monarch's population is a loss so staggering that in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio."
The butterfly's dramatic decline is being driven by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crops are made to be resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, a uniquely potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's only food. The dramatic surge in Roundup use with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in midwestern corn and soybean fields.
"The widespread decline of monarchs is driven by the massive spraying of herbicides on genetically engineered crops, which has virtually eliminated monarch habitat in cropland that dominates the Midwest landscape," said Bill Freese, a Center for Food Safety science policy analyst. "Doing what is needed to protect monarchs will also benefit pollinators and other valuable insects, and thus safeguard our food supply."
Monarch butterflies are known for their spectacular multigenerational migration each year from Mexico to Canada and back. Found throughout the United States during summer months, in winter most monarchs from east of the Rockies converge in the mountains of central Mexico, where they form tight clusters on just a few acres of trees. Most monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to trees along the California coast to overwinter.
The population has declined from a recorded high of approximately 1 billion butterflies in the mid-1990s to only 35 million butterflies last winter, the lowest number ever recorded. The overall population shows a steep and statistically significant decline of 90 percent over 20 years. In addition to herbicide use with genetically engineered crops, monarchs are also threatened by global climate change, drought and heat waves, other pesticides, urban sprawl, and logging on their Mexican wintering grounds. Scientists have predicted that the monarch's entire winter range in Mexico and large parts of its summer range in the states could become unsuitable due to changing temperatures and increased risk of drought, heat waves and severe storms.
Monarchs need a very large population size to be resilient to threats from severe weather events and predation. Nearly half of the overwintering population in Mexico can be eaten by bird and mammal predators in any single winter; a single winter storm in 2002 killed an estimated 500 million monarchs — 14 times the size of the entire current population.
"We need to take immediate action to protect the monarch so that it doesn't become another tragic example of a widespread species being erased because we falsely assumed it was too common to become extinct," said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species director at the Xerces Society. "2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, which was once so numerous no one would ever have believed it was at risk of extinction. History demonstrates that we cannot afford to be complacent about saving the monarch."
"The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to protect species like the monarch, and protect them, now, before it's too late," said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food Safety. "We've provided FWS a legal and scientific blueprint of the urgently needed action here."
"The monarch is the canary in the cornfield, a harbinger of environmental change that we've brought about on such a broad scale that many species of pollinators are now at risk if we don't take action to protect them," said Brower, who has published hundreds of scientific studies on monarchs.
The Fish and Wildlife Service must now issue a "90-day finding" on whether the petition warrants further review.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Center for Food Safety is a nonprofit, public interest organization with half a million members nationwide. CFS and its members are dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and instead promoting sustainable alternatives.
The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.
For more information, please read FAQ on the petition.
This is the tale of how we came to welcome an accidental artist in residence into our home, why you might want to do it, and how much the Adirondacks stands to gain. Read Marsha Stanley's article published in the Adirondack Almanac by clicking here.
Sometimes small touches make a big difference.
Take, for example, the recent effort in Saranac Lake to get special art banners waving from the streetlights.
Many towns have banners flying in their downtowns, often carrying the name of the community or some historical claim to fame.
But Saranac Lake is trying something a little different on its banners — showing off the work of local artists. The group AdkAction.org came up with the idea, and 12 double-sided flags are now flying on Church Street, Main Street and upper Broadway featuring photographs of the work of 24 local artists.
That is just the kind of individuality that can create a little added interest from visitors and give locals a reason to puff up with pride.
Saranac Lake has already set itself apart by starting the region's only flower-related festival — its Daffest, held in the spring, when thousands of daffodil bulbs that have been planted begin to bloom.
In fact, flowers are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to add color and warmth to a community's persona. Councilor Becky Kasper has been leading efforts in the City of Plattsburgh to encourage more blooms.
The Beautification Group of the Common Council's Quality of Life Committee has already distributed free flower kits that people could plant this summer.
And in September, the group hopes to get residents to plant wildflower seedlings. Wildflowers don't need much attention; they are hardy and, once planted, will multiply, spreading the beauty. People can find out more about that and other city beautification efforts at a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the second-floor meeting room of City Hall.
It doesn't always have to be government boards or organized groups that are responsible for how a community is seen. Business owners have a stake in attractive presentations, as well.
A number of restaurants in downtown Plattsburgh have set up outdoor seating, several of which are protected by large concrete barriers.
Some business owners have dressed up their space to add a little atmosphere to streetside dining — the overflowing planters outside Irises, the petunia-filled planters in front of Champlain Wine Company and the blooming trees at Olive Ridley.
Window displays can make a big difference, as well. A Beautiful Mess stands out on Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, as a storefront with windows that look like a good deal of thought went into how they would appeal to passers-by.
Owner Carolyn Tetreault, with help from daughters Nicolette Terry of Plattsburgh and Chantal DuBrey of Staten Island, has created a window display with class. It features artfully placed wares and a full-size wedding dress that is decorated for the season: flowers and butterflies now, hearts around Valentine's Day, pine branches in the winter.
A little aesthetic effort by community leaders, businesses and residents can stop traffic — and get those coveted tourists to stay awhile.
This editorial was provided by The Press Republican and can be found at:
The purpose of Maine's Broadband Report is twofold:
The report makes 8 Policy Recommendations including:
The latest issue of The Mail Boat, the newsletter of the Upper Saranac Lake Association, features a cover article about Monarch butterflies, their connection to the lake and the details of the AdkAction.org Monarch initiative. Unfortunately, active links imbedded in the story did not survive the editing process. Here is a version of the story as submitted with the live links. Learn much more about Monarchs on our Monarch pages.
Last fall the AdkAction.org board voted to pay $6,500 to bring a noted education consultant to the Adirondacks to excite educators about using newly available high speed internet in schools. On October 25, AdkAction.org collaborated with The Wild Center, Adirondack Foundation (formerly Adirondack Community Trust) and the Franklin-Essex-Hamilton Board of Cooperative Educational Services in presenting a day-long program by Alan November of November Learning. This story published by The Adirondack Almanack web site summarizes the event for you and gives you live links to follow to watch the entire event on The Wild Center's YouTube channel
In addition, the story contains links to highlights of important tools Alan discussed for use by teachers and students, tools which will amaze and empower you even though your school days are far behind you.
Board of Directors
AdkAction.org is a 501(c)3 nonprofit. All donations are deductible. AdkAction.org creates projects that address unmet needs, promote vibrant communities, and preserve the character of the Adirondacks.
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