Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NWF Helps Score Win for Colorado Wildlife Haven

NWF is among the conservation groups that have settled a lawsuit over drilling on Colorado’s Roan Plateau. Photo credit: John Gale.
from Wildlife Promise     11/24/2014 // By Judith Kohler
As drilling geared up in the Rockies in the early 2000s, a rallying cry among people worried about the natural gas boom’s effects in Colorado was “Save the Roan!”
The “Roan” is the Roan Plateau, a massive, hulking presence in western Colorado, about 180 miles west of Denver and on the edge of the town of Rifle. I was a reporter based in Denver and writing stories about the New West’s version of a gold rush – a natural gas drilling boom. There were plenty of stories: a surge in new jobs, bulging municipal and state coffers, overtaxed public services, homeowners fighting to stop drilling on their land, fears about threats to air and water quality and health.
The Roan Plateau had become a kind of ground zero for the clash between those eager to tap western Colorado’s gas deposits and those determined to save the open spaces, roadless forests, backcountry, wildlife and pristine streams. There has been drilling on some of the Roan’s private land for several years and periodic attempts to mine the oil shale under the plateau as well as other parts of northwestern Colorado.  But the public lands atop and surrounding the Roan Plateau had remained relatively unscathed by the periodic oil and gas drilling booms that marked so much of the West.
Wildlife haven
The Roan is home to some of the country’s largest mule deer and elk herds. Genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout are found in streams on top of the landmark, which stretches across tens of thousands of acres through varying elevations and diverse vegetation – sagebrush, pinion and juniper woodlands, aspen stands, Douglas firs. Trout Unlimited has invested a lot of time and money in restoring trout habitat on the Roan Plateau, which rises to roughly 9,000 above sea level.
The Roan Plateau’s rocky front looms 3,000 feet over the Colorado River. Photo credit: Judith Kohler.
All of which is impossible to grasp when you see the Roan’s rocky, fortress-like front from Interstate 70, looming 3000 feet above the highway and the river valley below.  But from the air you see the green meadows, canyons, rocky cliffs and ridge tops. On the ground atop the plateau, you can hike beside the clear, cold waters of East Parachute Creek down a trail to see a waterfall that plunges 200 feet into a box canyon.
Bruce Gordon of Ecoflight, which advocates for protecting our wild lands and wildlife habitat, took many reporters on overflights of the Roan as the fight over drilling on the plateau’s public lands heated up. Communities joined hunters, anglers and environmental groups in urging the Bureau of Land Management to consider a management plan that would protect wildlife habitat, air quality and the recreation that generates millions of dollars for businesses and local governments.
“The Roan Plateau has been one of our economic engines for the community because we’ve relied historically on hunting, fishing and grazing,” Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert told a reporter in 2007.
The National Wildlife Federation was among 10 conservation groups that sued in 2008 after the BLM sold leases on top of the Roan and at its base – important big game winter range – for $114 million. In 2012, a federal court ruled the BLM failed to consider more environmentally protective plans and ordered the agency to take another look.
Court-ordered mediation led to the settlement announced Nov. 21. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and BLM Director Neil Kornze traveled to Denver for the announcement by Gov. John Hickenlooper and the parties to the lawsuit. The government will buy back leases held by the Bill Barrett Corp. Under the agreement, most of the public land on top would be closed to leasing or protected from surface disturbance. More than 50 percent of the public land at the base would be protected from surface disturbance. The oil and gas would have to be accessed from other locations, using underground, horizontal drilling.
The Roan Plateau provides important habitat for mule deer and several other species. Photo credit: John Gale
Although the BLM isn’t required to write the settlement’s terms into its revised plan for the Roan, it has a big incentive to do so. The plaintiffs have agreed not to challenge the new plan if the BLM incorporates the settlement’s provisions.
New lease on life
“This is a significant victory, but the work isn’t finished. Sportsmen groups will continue to work with BLM and other parties in coming months to ensure that the balanced future for the Roan Plateau that is envisioned in these settlement provisions are adopted by the BLM in the final Resource Management Plan,” said John Gale, NWF’s sportsmen’s campaign manager.
Proponents of the original plan that opened the Roan to thousands of new wells have argued that the area isn’t wilderness, that there’s already wells, pipelines and truck traffic on private lands on the plateau. But there’s also plenty of undisturbed backcountry, plants not found anywhere else in the world, stunning vistas and, as the BLM has acknowledged, some of the most biologically rich country in Colorado. Besides elk and deer, the Roan is habitat for black bears, mountain lions, peregrine falcons, bald eagles and other birds.
The Roan Plateau has often been described as an oasis surrounded by spreading oil and gas development. There are more than 12,000 wells in the area and a proposal by the BLM could add up to 15,000 new wells on other lands near the Roan.
Which raises the question: Do we have to punch holes everywhere we know oil and gas exist? Communities, conservationists and activists have worked for more than a decade to make sure there is still some space left for wildlife, some backcountry left for people to visit, some places we can all agree are just too special to drill.
The Roan Plateau is home to genetically pure Colorado River cutthroat trout. Photo credit: Mark Lance.

Caring for water-loving palms in our dry winters

Okay, I know palms aren’t really trees and it’s not Thursday but since this Thursday is Thanksgiving and I won’t be here, here’s a palm article for Tree Thursday!  :)
Fairchild’s tropical garden column: Caring for water-loving palms
By Sara Edelman
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
The lipstick palm is famous for being cold sensitive. However, when planted in the water this palm is much easier to cultivate. Sara Edelman Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

For palm lovers, summer in Miami is heaven on earth. Humid days and afternoon rain showers encourage healthy growth. But as the cooler weather rolls in, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that summer is over.
I can hear your mother telling you it’s time to get out of the pool. But you aren’t ready. Palms feel the same sadness that we do as summer warmth disappears. They live for its long, warm, humid days. Cooler weather slows their growth and stifles their mood.
Palms despise the cold so much that some have figured out how to act like it’s summer year round. When they hear their mother telling them to get out of the pool, they resist. These palms grow in the water. In fact, the water protects them from cold weather injury.
Instead of escaping to the Bahamas, plant a summer-loving palm. Even if your mood is stifled by the cooler weather, their stubbornness in pretending winter doesn’t exist will lift your spirits.
Paurotis palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii) is a Florida native that grows in the seasonal marshes of the Everglades. Through rhizomatous branching, it creates colonies with an empty center. The empty center is higher than the water level and often becomes habitat for other plant and animal species.
Paurotis palm is planted frequently in the landscape but often shows signs of stress in the leaves. The newest leaves become frizzled because the palm is planted in dry soil. Plant a paurotis palm along the perimeter of a pond. You’ll have a gorgeous water-loving clump that will make all your neighbors palm-leaf green with envy.
If you want a native palm but aren’t sold on the clumping nature of paurotis, a royal palm (Roystonea regia) is for you. Like paurotis, these palms also suffer occasionally from dryness. Often, the crown is weakened from dehydration and falls off.
After seeing so many royals planted along the roadside it may come as a shock that it grows in the swamps. If you plant a royal palm in a wet spot, be prepared for extreme growth. At first, your neighbors and palm-loving friends may think it strange, but after they see your palm’s incredible growth, they will follow suit. Plant this palm where it wants to grow and watch it shoot up.
Maybe you want to venture outside of the native palm realm and cultivate a more difficult palm. The lipstick palm (Cyrtostachys renda) is waiting for you to let her live summer year round. These palms are very cold sensitive and are labeled as “difficult.”
However, the trick is in the water. These palms thrive when their feet are wet. Simply plant them in a pond and the cold weather doesn’t affect them quite as much. Be prepared, they still may suffer from winter chills but don’t force them out of the pool.
The challenge of growing the lipstick palm may be too much. Instead, try the King Alexander palm (Archontophoenix alexandrae). These water-loving palms grow well in all conditions. They are a little cold sensitive, but similar to the lipstick palm, the water protects them from damage.
In the wild, these palms grow along river banks in Australia. When they are planted in dry areas in the landscape, their cold sensitivity increases. Don’t force this palm to suffer through the winter. Instead, give this palm some water and enjoy its tropical green crown of leaves.
Water-loving palms are living the dream by living the summer lifestyle year round. Maybe we can steal a little of their summer spirit by planting them in our yards.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

7 No-Brainer Ways to Stop Wasting Food

And stop wasting money at the supermarket, too.
A scary fact: Estimates show we throw away a third of the food we buy each week. A THIRD. Want to cut down on your waste? Adopt these easy steps. 
1. Write a list!
Plan your meals for a week. Check the ingredients in your fridge and cupboards, then write a shopping list for just the extras you need. While in the store, don't be tempted by offers and definitely don't shop when you're hungry — or you'll come back with more than you need or want. Buy loose fruits and vegetables instead of pre-packed, then you can buy exactly the amount you need. You can also buy meats and cheese from a deli to help you control your portions.
2. Maintain your fridge.
Check that the seals on your fridge are good and check the fridge temperature, too. Perishable food should be stored at 37 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum freshness and longevity (keep your freezer at 0 degrees or just a little lower).
3. Use up everything.
Make any fruit that is just going soft into smoothies or fruit pies rather than toss them. Vegetables that are starting to wilt are perfect for making soup. And instead of scrapping leftovers, use them as ingredients in a new dish tomorrow. A bit of tuna can go into a pasta bake. A tablespoon of cooked vegetables are a good base for a slow-cooker meal.
4. Rotate items on your shelves.
When you buy new food from the store, bring all the older items in your cupboards and fridge to the front. By putting the old stuff in sight, you run less risk of finding something moldy in the back.
5. Serve smaller portions at mealtime.
This is especially helpful for children, who rarely estimate how much they can eat at once. If anyone's still hungry, they can go for seconds. Then, just cool and store leftovers for another day (but again, don't hide them in the back of the fridge where you won't see them!).
6. Freeze food you're not using right away. 
If you only eat a small amount of bread, freeze the loaf when you get home from the store and take out a few slices a couple of hours before you need them. Likewise, prepare and freeze food the weekends, so that you have meals ready for those evenings when you are too tired to cook.
7. Compost your leftovers.
Some food waste is unavoidable, so why not set up a compost bin for fruit and vegetable peelings? In a few months you will end up with rich, valuable fertilizer for your plants. For cooked food waste, try a kitchen composter (bokashi bin). Just feed it your scraps (you can even put in fish and meat), sprinkle over a layer of special microbes and leave to ferment. You can also use its resulting product on houseplants and in the garden.
Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty

Monday, November 24, 2014

10 Projects to “Green” Your Home

"Going green" means living in a way that's environmentally friendly. It uses less water, less electricity, and less fuel, conserving natural resources while protecting the environment. It also saves money on utility bills, which is something all homeowners can appreciate. From simple to elaborate, here are a few ways to green your house and property.
Focus On the Light
Replacing your most-used light bulbs with CFLs will lower your electric bill while producing less heat and lasting longer than your incandescent bulbs.
While you're at it, consider adding dimmer switches, motion sensors, and timers for when you're away from home in the evening. Also, keep your light bulbs clean: Dirt and grease coats the bulbs and not only reduces the available light, but causes the bulb to burn out sooner.
Mix Your Own Cleaners
Many commercial cleaning products contain bleach and other harsh chemicals. Switch to natural products and solutions you mix up yourself. Clean up hard water deposits with vinegar, for instance, or use it to wash your windows. White vinegar mixed with hydrogen peroxide also sanitizes countertops (killing 99 percent of E. coli).
Go Low-Flow
Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators (the tip that screws on to the nozzle) cost little and can save about half the water without sacrificing water pressure. Low-flow toilets are another option. Look for a water-saving toilet displaying the WaterSense label. Alternatively, fill a 2-liter bottle with water and drop it in the toilet tank to displace some of the water. This will force the toilet to use less water per flush.
If you're in the market for a new water heater, consider choosing a tankless water heater. It allows you to use the same amount of water, but it heats the water only when it's needed, so you save a lot of energy. Wrapping a conventional (tank-based) water heater with a special insulation and insulating all the hot-water pipes also conserves energy.
Spread the Greenery
To really green your house and property, visit your local plant and tree nursery. Outdoors, shade trees not only cut your cooling costs (up to 25 percent), but in the winter, trees and shrubs also break the wind and affect your heating costs. Inside, plants not only make a home feel more comfortable, they also help purify the air and produce oxygen.
Reduce VOCs
Indoors and out, you're surrounded by volatile organic compounds. VOCs are any carbon-containing substance that "off-gasses" (meaning it becomes a vapor, or evaporates) at room temperature. VOCs pose a significant health hazard. Paints, varnishes, cigarette smoke, pesticides, gasoline and other fuels, various glues and adhesives, cosmetic products, automotive exhaust, even cleaning products are but a few of the items that contain VOCs. When painting, look for low VOC paints, particularly those featuring the Green Seal.
Look for the Energy Star Logo
Getting rid of old appliances and upgrading to new, energy-efficient models can save you a significant amount of money. The EPA suggests replacing any appliance older than 10 years. Select models displaying the Energy Star logo to ensure energy efficiency.
Plant a Garden
Gardening can be a soothing activity, but this project also ensures you have healthy food. Home-grown food costs drastically less, enhances the outdoor environment, and reduces the environmental impact of commercially-bought food. Even if you have a small property, you can use containers and hanging devices to maximize your growing space.
Reduce Your Need for Paper
Register for paperless billing with utility and finance companies, and stop getting as much unsolicited mail as possible. The Federal Trade Commission offers a guide on how to "just say no" to junk mail.
Use Reclaimed Wood
Have a DIY project needing wood? "Used" wood is environmentally friendly and creates a beautiful look. Salvaged lumber can be used anywhere regular wood is used. You can even get creative and build a fence with wood pallets, for instance.
Move the Air
Insulating and sealing your home is critical. Another simple project to lower your heating and cooling costs is installing ceiling fans. In the winter, set the rotation to push warm air downward; in the summer, switch the blade rotation to draw warm air up instead. Moving air makes it feel cooler in the summer as well, allowing you to keep the thermostat a little higher.
As you green your home and lifestyle, be on the lookout for additional incentives. You may be eligible for tax benefits for some energy-saving projects. Going green doesn't have to be expensive, and it's always rewarding.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tree Thursday -- Lifted On Giant Inner Tubes, An Old Tree Moves In Michigan

For as many as 250 years, a bur oak has been growing on what is now the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. The big tree stands in the way of an expansion of the Ross Business School.
But instead of cutting it down, the university is moving the tree. It's not easy, it's not cheap, and it's definitely not fast.
As it was prepared for its 500-foot trip down a pedestrian mall, the old oak's 44-foot diameter root ball was wrapped in plastic and burlap and rested on long pipes, inserted earlier this summer to create a platform for lifting.
"While it does look fairly radical and invasive — and it is — if it's done properly, chances of survival are fantastic," says Paul Cox of Environmental Design, one of the few companies able to move a tree that weighs about 700,000 pounds.
The tree was raised on huge rubber bags so transporters could slip underneath. The bags look like inner tubes, except much thicker and longer.
"You first place these bags, deflated, beneath the tree, beneath the pipe, and then slowly inflate them, and as you inflate, the tree comes up into the air," Cox explains.
All this know-how, labor and equipment is expensive. The move will cost about $400,000, money that came from $100 million donated for the expansion by philanthropist Stephen Ross, for whom the business school was renamed.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald says the school has never moved a tree this large before.
"We didn't know if it could be moved," Fitzgerald says. "We started exploring options, and come to find out there are companies that do this and have been successfully moving large trees for decades."
Fitzgerald admits the plan doesn't please everybody. Some business school students say it's too much money to save one tree. Some also say they don't like the new location, blocking part of the view of the front entrance.
Even BJ Smith, a forester who drove all the way from west Michigan to watch this move, can't make a good business case for it.
"For the same price, I think in Washtenaw County, [where Ann Arbor is located] you can get about 120 acres of forested land," Smith says. "That might be a better legacy than one tree."
Nevertheless, he watched in awe as the big inner tubes deflated and the tree was lowered onto the transporters. It made its way at a pace of about 1 mph to its new home on the other side of the business school.
The tree should be placed in the ground sometime Sunday, where it may live, easily, for another 250 years.

Tree Giveaway Sunday, November 23rd, as part of Open Streets Event

Open Streets on East Las Olas Sunday, November 23rd!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wildlife Wednesday - Dragonflies are Dangerous Beauties

AFRICAN LIONS ROAR AND STRUT and act the apex carnivore, but they’re lucky to catch 25 percent of the prey they pursue. Great white sharks have 300 slashing teeth and that ominous movie sound track, and still nearly half their hunts fail.
Dragonflies, by contrast, look dainty, glittery and fun, like a bubble bath or costume jewelry, and they’re often grouped with butterflies and ladybugs on the very short list of “Insects People Like.” Yet they are also voracious aerial predators, and new research suggests they may well be the most brutally effective hunters in the animal kingdom.
Ambush Predators
When setting off to feed on other flying insects, dragonflies manage to snatch their targets in midair more than 95 percent of the time, often wolfishly consuming the prey on the spur without bothering to alight. “They’ll tear up the prey and mash it into a glob, munch, munch, munch,” says Michael L. May, an emeritus professor of entomology at Rutgers. “It almost looks like a wad of snuff in the mouth before they swallow it.”
Next step: grab more food. Dragonflies may be bantam, but their appetite is bottomless. Stacey Combes, who studies the biomechanics of dragonfly flight at Harvard University, once watched a laboratory dragonfly eat 30 flies in a row. “It would have happily kept eating,” she says, “if there had been more food available.”
In a string of recent papers, scientists have pinpointed key features of the dragonfly’s brain, eyes and wings that allow it to hunt so unerringly. One research team has determined that the nervous system of a dragonfly displays an almost human capacity for selective attention, able to focus on a single prey as it flies amid a cloud of similarly fluttering insects, just as a guest at a party can attend to a friend’s words while ignoring the background chatter.
Other researchers have identified a kind of master circuit of 16 neurons that connect the dragonfly’s brain to its flight motor center in the thorax. With the aid of that neuronal package, a dragonfly can track a moving target, calculate a trajectory to intercept that target and subtly adjust its path as needed. The scientists found evidence that a dragonfly plots its course to intercept through a variant of “an old mariner’s trick,” says Robert M. Olberg of Union College, who reported the research with his colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The trick: If you’re heading north on a boat and you see another boat moving, say, 30 degrees to your right, and if as the two of you barrel forward the other boat remains at that 30-degree spot in your field of view, vector mechanics dictate that your boats will crash: better slow down, speed up or turn aside.
In a similar manner, as a dragonfly closes in on a meal, it maintains an image of the moving prey on the same spot—the same compass point of its visual field. “The image of the prey is getting bigger, but if it’s always on the same spot of the retina, the dragonfly will intercept its target,” says Paloma T. Gonzalez-Bellido, an author of the report who now works at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
As a rule, the hunted remains clueless until it’s all over. “Before I got into this work, I’d assumed it was an active chase, like a lion going after an impala,” Combes says. “But it’s more like ambush predation. The dragonfly comes from behind and below, and the prey doesn’t know what’s coming.”
Aerial Acrobats
Dragonflies are magnificent aerialists, able to hover, dive, fly backward and upside down, pivot 360 degrees with three tiny wing beats, and reach speeds of 30 miles per hour—lightening fast for an arthropod. In many insects, the wings are simple extensions of the thoracic box and are moved largely as a unit by flexing the entire thorax. In the dragonfly, the four transparent, ultraflexible wings are attached to the thorax by separate muscles and can each be maneuvered independently, lending the insect an extraordinary range of flight options. “A dragonfly can be missing an entire wing and still capture prey,” Combes says.
Dragonflies also are true visionaries. Their eyes are the largest and possibly the keenest in the insect world, a pair of giant spheres each built of some 30,000 pixel-like facets that together take up pretty much the entire head. “They have a full field of vision,” Olberg says. “They can see you when they’re flying toward you and still see you when they’re flying away.”
Their other senses get short shrift. Dragonflies can’t really hear, and with their stubby little antennas they’re not much for smelling or pheromonal flirtations.
For neuroscientists, the dragonfly’s large head capsule, eyes and brain cells hold particular appeal. “It’s that much easier to insert tiny electrodes into single neurons and make neural recordings from inside the brain,” says Steven Wiederman of the University of Adelaide in Australia.
As they reported in Current Biology, Wiederman and his colleague David O’Carroll explored how dragonflies single out one target from a chaotic swarm. Working with the two-inch-long emerald dragonfly often seen darting around Australian ponds, the researchers inserted an electrode about 1/1500th the width of a human hair into a dragonfly neuron known to be involved in visual processing. They then positioned the dragonfly in front of an LCD screen and showed it first one and then two moving targets at a time.
The scientists predicted that the dragonfly’s probed neuron would react to the competing targets as simpler nervous systems do, with the addition of the second target altering and degrading the response to the first. Instead, the scientists were amazed to find that the dragonfly attended to multiple stimuli in primatelike style, concentrating first on one target while ignoring the other, and then suddenly switching full attention to Target B, and then back to Target A—rather as we humans can sequentially shift our focus at a busy party from friend to friend, to a wineglass in need of a refill.
“It suggests the possibility of a top-down process of selective attention of the sort we normally associate with high-order thinking,” Wiederman says. “So here we have a simple brain of less than a million neurons behaving like our own brain of 100 billion neurons.” The scientists have yet to determine what cues might prompt a dragonfly to decide, “ah, there’s the target I will pursue.” Perhaps not surprisingly, much dragonfly research both in this country and abroad is supported by the United States military, which sees the insect as the archetypal precision drone.
Maintaining a Long Lineage
Dragonflies are not a very species-rich group. Their order, Odonata, which means “toothed ones” after the notably serrated mandibles that crush prey, includes only some 7,000 species worldwide compared with hundreds of thousands of beetle and butterfly species. (And that 7,000 figure includes dragonflies, with their stiff wings, and the related damselflies, which can fold back their wings.)
Yet dragonflies are rich in history, their ancient lineage dating to the Carboniferous Period, some 300 million years ago. Back then, the atmosphere’s high oxygen content helped give rise to supersize dragonflies with wingspans the length of a human arm, three or four times the dimensions of today’s biggest tropical specimens.
Adults spend the great bulk of their days aloft, and not only to hunt and eat. Males spar with other males in midair and relentlessly swoop after females. Mating takes place on the wing, with male and female forming a circle that can look somewhat heart-shaped but is an awkward, aggressive affair. Grasping the female’s head in his mating pincers, the male first must transfer his sperm from a storage site on his lower abdomen to a copulatory organ inconveniently located on his upper abdomen. Then he must induce his headlocked mate to curl her genitals up toward that loaded midbelly penis. If she’s already mated, the male must pause to expand a little bristled lobe to scrape out the previous suitor’s sperm.
Some dragonfly species migrate long distances each year, a still-mysterious phenomenon not unlike the celebrated flight of the monarch butterfly. Recent studies have shown that green darner dragonflies migrate in sizable swarms each fall and spring between the northern United States and southern Mexico, while the globe skimmer dragonfly lives up to its name: It has been tracked crossing between India and Africa, a round-trip, multigenerational pilgrimage of some 10,000 miles.
Dragonflies migrate to maximize breeding opportunities, seeking warm freshwater ponds in which they can safely lay their eggs. From those eggs hatch dragonfly larvae: astonishing gilled predators that will spend from weeks to years hydrojetting through water and shooting their mouthparts after aquatic prey, until they’re ready to spread their wings and take the hunt to the sky.
Attracting Dragonflies to Your Yard
Dragonflies and damselflies belong to the insect order Odonata, and most members of this group rely on water throughout their life cycles. The juveniles, or nymphs, live underwater for months and sometimes years before emerging as adults; the adults tend to hunt for insects over water and lay their eggs in water or on adjacent vegetation.
Unless you live in the arid Southwest, your yard may be reasonably close to a stream, pond or wetland with a "source" population of the insects. Dragonflies are strong flyers, and though most individuals stay around their natal pond or stream, some of them will travel. So a backyard pond can attract these aerial acrobats to your yard.
The ideal dragonfly pond should vary in depth, be shallow at the edges and at least 2 feet deep in the center to provide nymphs with a refuge from predators. The British Dragonfly Society recommends building a pond that is about 20 feet in diameter, but under the right conditions, even a smaller pond or water feature will work.
To provide both developing nymphs and adults with perches, place underwater plants in a pond, including emergent vegetation such as sedges and rushes that stick up above the water’s surface. Experts also recommend growing native species of shrubs around the pond to provide more perching places.
For more gardening tips, become an NWF Wildlife Gardener. It's free and you can learn how to certify your yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat® site.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How LEDs Are Going To Change The Way We Look At Cities

Ucilia Wang Contributor
This story appears in the September 29, 2014 issue of Forbes.
Ed Ebrahimian loves to stare out the plane window on night flights home to Los Angeles. Next time you fly into L.A. late, take a good look and see why. Five years ago a bright orange blanket of light used to saturate the city and stain the air above. Today it’s a metropolis aglow with tens of thousands of cool silvery pinpoint lights. The grid is clearer. The skies are blacker.
“The lights look like candles now, and they aren’t glaring at all,” Ebrahimian gushes. “The sky glow is the most amazing thing I’ve seen in my life.”
Ebrahimian has good reason to be enthused. As director of L.A.’s Bureau of Street Lighting, he’s overseeing one of the largest relighting projects in the world, spending $57 million to retrofit the city’s 215,000 lights, which come in more than 400 styles. The money has gotten him only to lamppost number 155,000 after five years. Replacing the remaining 60,000, including most of the decorative ones, will cost $50 million more.
Los Angeles is a dramatic front in an important and overlooked battle facing the rapidly urbanizing world: the struggle between light and dark. Cities and businesses want more light everywhere for commercial and safety reasons, but our decades-long saturation bombing of the darkness is blowing holes in electricity budgets, confusing and killing wildlife, and completely erasing our view of the stars, the inspiration for millennia of scientists, poets and explorers. “What was once a most common human experience has become most rare,” writes Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night, a book that assails the world’s unchecked light pollution.
The technology at the center of the shift is the LED, or light-emitting diode. LEDs are a break from the history of illumination. As solid-state semiconductors, they’re more akin to the processor in your smartphone than the lamp overhead. Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Shanghai, Copenhagen and scores of other cities around the world are deploying LEDs in an attempt to solve most, if not all, of the problems created by inefficient traditional lamps.
LEDs cost three to four times more up front than traditional high-pressure streetlamps, but they last three to four times longer and produce two to three times more light per watt, delivering anywhere from 30% to 70% in annual electricity savings. Because they are digital chips, they will only get cheaper as the efficiencies of Moore’s Law roll on. And as electronic components they’re also far more programmable and connect more efficiently with radio and sensor chips to create citywide wireless networks to monitor crime, power outages and water main breaks and coordinate disaster relief.
The business opportunity in the great LED retrofit is enormous. Of the 140 million streetlights installed worldwide last year, only 19 million were LEDs, according to IHS Technology. By 2020 LEDs are expected to account for 100 million of the installed base of 155 million streetlights. Annual sales of LED streetlights will jump from $4.3 billion to $10.2 billion in the same time period. Boston, Seattle and New York City are all undertaking big retrofits. New York’s $76 million project will be the largest in the country: replacing 250,000 lights by 2017. City officials expect to reap $14 million in energy and maintenance spending per year.
(I’m ending my article here but there is much more information in this article if you are interested.  I know Fort Lauderdale is installing LED lights and some are even solar powered.  It get to find out that not only are they energy efficient but they help control light pollution!)