Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015
An op-ed from Florida's Restoration Project Manager Brian Pelc
Miami, Fla. | February 05, 2015
Florida's wonderful climate draws in millions of visitors each year, helping to drive the health of our economy. Unfortunately, Florida's climate is also hospitable to visitors of a different kind—invasive species that cause more of a crisis here than anywhere else in the continental United States.
Unwanted plants and animals do much more than spoil a lush green lawn or leave irritating bite marks on those "bare footing" it in the park. About 1 percent of the thousands of unwanted species brought into Florida have the ability to thrive and spread in the last great places where endangered animals make homes and where humans seek refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Native plants and animals have a difficult time competing against these foreign organisms in our natural lands, and some rare species can be pushed out completely.
While many friends of mine question whether they can make a difference in protecting Florida, exotic invasive species is an issue that desperately needs the attention. If we focus on the handful of plants and animals that pose the greatest threat, every homeowner and renter, garden club member and every outdoor enthusiast has the chance to help save our natural spaces by taking control of their own, small piece of the planet.
In honor of Invasive Species Awareness Week, February 22-28, here are some top tips from The Nature Conservancy to fight damaging invaders:
· Don't harbor backyard invaders. Heavenly bamboo and Mexican petunia may sound nice, but plants like these can overrun, crowd out and strangle life from native Florida plants.
· Don't let it loose! Don't release aquarium fish and plants, live bait or other exotic animals into the wild.
· Don't buy it! Acquiring invasive reptiles like Burmese or African rock pythons as pets is prohibited in Florida.
· Wash your boats — and boots! Clean your boat thoroughly to remove invasive stowaways. Clean your boots before you hike to get rid of hitchhiking weed seeds.
· Don't "pack a pest" when traveling and don't move firewood. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry potentially devastating forest pests or become invasive themselves, and firewood can harbor forest pests.
· Get involved! Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area or with your local Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) to help remove invasive species.
For more information, visit www.nature.org/FloridaInvasives.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
By David Fleshler Sun Sentinel
Gray foxes return to Ft Lauderdale park after years of absence
After disappearing for years, gray foxes have returned to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale.
The bushy-tailed predators vanished after the twin blows of Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and a wave of distemper that swept through the park's raccoon population, said park services specialist Mark Foley. The last sighting was reported in 2007.
But about a month ago, someone claimed to see a fox. Then there were more sightings, and last week a park maintenance worker photographed them.
Gary Busch, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
A gray fox photographed last week at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale.
A gray fox photographed last week at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Fort Lauderdale. (Gary Busch, Hugh Taylor Birch State Park)
"We're happy to have them here," said park manager David Dearth. "They're native to the area. They're definitely an animal we want to protect and see flourish here at the park."
Dearth said he saw three scavenging around the assistant park manager's grill late one afternoon. And in the most hopeful sign for the park's restored fox population, he said a park employee saw an obviously pregnant female.
Most sightings have been in the remote southwest corner of the park, and most have been either in the early morning or toward dusk. Unlike raccoons, foxes are shy and try to avoid people. If you see one, you should keep your distance and refrain from feeding it.
"Ultimately, the return of the gray fox to Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a wonderful and touching reality for us," Foley said in an email. "We had been saddened by their loss following hurricane Wilma in 2005 and then an assumption that distemper finished off their small population in our confined state park (surrounded by urban infrastructure)."
Gray foxes, which can be seen at other coastal South Florida parks, generally eat mice, rats and rabbits, although Foley said they were probably also dining on the park's lizards and crabs. Dearth said they dig up iguana nests for the eggs, assisting in the control of a non-native species that has colonized the area.
During Wilma, a mother fox was seen taking shelter under a canoe with her babies. But the canoe was overturned in the storm, and they weren't seen again.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Bees are very important as pollinators to our environment so the more we can do to save them, the better! -- Gene
Group moves hives, raises awareness
Broward Beekeepers Association members recently relocated hives from two homes. (Submitted photo)
By Randy Abraham, Sun-Sentinel
Homeowners who recently discovered an unwanted beehive got a chance to see the Broward Beekeepers Association in action.
The group was called out to remove a beehive in Pompano Beach resident Pamela Conner's black olive tree. They also removed and relocated a hive found in Fort Lauderdale resident Susan James' backyard shed where she stored her hurricane shutters.
"It was like watching a hazmat (hazardous materials) team spring into action," said James, describing her reaction when group members, dressed in protective suits, gloves and head coverings, came to remove the beehive.
Beekeeping has become marginalized as society has become more urbanized, but with the changing of the seasons, some members hope the timing is right for their message.
"Spring is coming, and it's important for people to know who to contact" should they discover a beehive, said group member Dara Kustler. "The bees pollinate and are important for the survival of mankind. … So we are here to educate Broward County residents, and we hope that we can become a leading county for bee preservation and protection through our efforts and outreach. … Most bee colonies can be rescued and relocated and will survive and thrive."
Member Dan Novak added, "The most important things that bees do is pollinate. Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce. Bees pollinate at least 80 percent of the food crops we rely on. And this is the reproductive season when they multiply."
The group, which has 66 members, wants to raise awareness of bees' role in the environment and the production of plants and food. Members have spoken about their activities at schools, libraries and the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale.
They bring the rescued hives to an apiary — a place for beehives —in a vacant lot in Coconut Creek. That site was recently rezoned and sold to a firm that seeks to develop the property, and the group is hoping to find a new site to place their apiary.
Conner said she was surprised to learn about bees and is grateful she did not hire an exterminator.
"We wouldn't have food if it weren't for bees. Exterminating them should only be done as a last resort," she said.
For more information, visit Browardbees.org.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I don't know anything more about this than what I'm posting. There is a charge to attend and you can purchase tickets online. --Gene
Sustainability and Green Living Festival here in Ft. Lauderdale, FL!
At Green Planet Festival™, there is something for everyone interested in pursuing a more sustainable and healthful life. Experience a variety of products from food, fashion and health, to energy, construction and design. Enjoy vegan and vegetarian cooking demos, educational activities for kids and families, innovative speakers, live music and entertainment. Shop in our unique community of eco-friendly businesses - everything from all-natural body care products and organic clothing to vegan and vegetarian munchies based on organic, non-GMO or local, artisanal foods. Bring the family for a day filled with everything from eco-friendly shopping to a fashion show featuring organic apparel. Get inspired as you listen to visionary speakers; learn vegan and vegetarian recipes at a cooking demo; try out fresh fitness moves; and of course, savor the flavor of organic, non-GMO, artisanal foods.
What if you found out that the company that makes your favorite t-shirt does a lot more than just make clothes? At Green Planet, we're here to help you find companies that care about progress, not just profit. Advertisements are constantly boasting "green" this and "green" that, but we're not into buzzwords. We're into change. We believe that an educated consumer makes for a smart economy. We'll help you discover some of the most innovative products on the market, the people behind them, and the great work they do.
Our festival is different. We're not here to offer some cookie-cutter plan for a sustainable lifestyle. We don't tell you what to buy- we put everything in front of you and allow you to make that decision on your own. Our festival is the first of its kind, featuring large national brands as well as local businesses in your area. We're here to level the playing field between the big guys and the little guys to give you an accurate snapshot of what's available in your own city. When you support these companies, you're investing in a better tomorrow.
Implementing sustainable living on a large scale is not an easy task. It's going to require unity amongst individuals, businesses, and organizations. We're here to be the spark for that change. Our mission is to empower consumers like you to do your part and work towards this common goal. Green Planet Festival will forge valuable relationships across a variety of industries, creating a brand new opportunity for collaboration and growth within the green sector. It's now your time to show the rest of the world what sustainability means to you.
Between now and 2050, forests are one of our "most promising" geo-engineering tools.
Feb 9 2015
When people talk about technologies that might offset climate change, they often evoke not-yet-invented marvels, like planes spraying chemicals into the atmosphere or enormous skyscrapers gulping carbon dioxide from the clouds.
But in a new report, Oxford University researchers say that our best hopes might not be so complex.
In fact, they are two things we already know how to do: plant trees and improve the soil.
Both techniques, said the report, are “no regrets.” They’ll help the atmosphere no matter what, they’re comparatively low-cost, and they carry little additional risk. Specifically, the two techniques it recommends are afforestation—planting trees where there were none before—and biochar—improving the soil by burying a layer of dense charcoal.
Between now and 2050, trees and charcoal are the “most promising” technologies out there, it said.
It also cautioned, however, that these so-called “Negative Emissions Technologies” or NETs should only be seen as a way to stave off the worst of climate change.
“NETs should not be seen as a deus ex machina that will ‘save the day,’” its authors wrote. NETs should instead be seen as one of several tools to meet the international goal of avoiding climate change greater than 2 degrees Celsius. Another crucial tool is reducing emissions.
It’s a solution that makes sense, as forest management is one of the oldest ways that humans have shaped their environment. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native communities in the Americas had been burning forest fires for millennia to support the growth of desirable plants like blueberries and to manage ecosystems. British communities have long practiced coppicing, a tree-cutting technique that keeps forests full of younger trees.
In other words, humanity has been “geoengineering” with trees for a very long time. The authors of the Oxford report add that afforestation will need global support in order to be successful.
“It is clear that attaining negative emissions is in no sense an easier option than reducing current emissions,” it says (emphasis mine). “To remove CO2 on a comparable scale to the rate it is being emitted inevitably requires effort and infrastructure on a comparable scale to global energy or agricultural systems.”