Thursday, January 29, 2015

Super Bowl Initiative Helps Advance Phoenix Urban Forest

Phoenix, AZ (January 10, 2015) — A total of 170 trees will be planted across the Phoenix area as part of the 10th anniversary of urban forestry at Super Bowl. This past week, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and local volunteers teamed up to plant 35 new trees at a Phoenix park as part of the initiative to make the city greener in time for the big game.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Bernier — KJZZ
The tree plantings are part of an overall greening strategy for Super Bowl, which also leaves a green legacy.
First up to receive new trees was Paradise Cove Park, which was hit with a microburst during the last monsoon season, destroying nearly 40 of the trees planted around the area.
Paradise Cove is one of five parks receiving new vegetation. Local volunteers showed up in pairs to help plant the variety of trees, which included pine, acacia, elm, pistache and sissoo trees.
Experienced volunteers were on hand to help with some of the heavier lifting, and to offer advice about the best way to care for the trees to make sure they last well into the future.
“This is the easy part,” volunteer Lynn Marks said. “The hard part will be maintaining them for the next 50 years…but it can be done.”
The city of Phoenix has a goal of 25 percent canopy coverage by 2030 from both trees and structures. Though emphasis is on shade, trees offer many more benefits.
Currently the city is anywhere from 9 to 12 percent throughout the city and that ranges from seven in some areas to 17 in others. The average return on investment for a medium-size mature tree in the Valley is $2.23 for every $1 expended.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Give Your Input on Snyder Park - Today at 6 p.m.

Give Your Input on Snyder Park
Join us Thursday, January 29, at 6 p.m. to share your ideas and opinions with us about Snyder Park and how to make it even better! Topics of discussion include an aerial adventure course, Bark Park, disc golf course, mountain bike trail, and more! The discussion will take place at the Caldwell Pavilion in Snyder Park, which is located at 3299 SW 4th Avenue.

Frogs That Freeze Solid

With the current weather up north, there may be more than just wood frogs frozen solid!  --Gene
1/5/2015 // By David Mizejewski
Different animals use different strategies to survive winter. Some species migrate south, others grow thick coats, and some fatten up or stash food reserves. Many species hibernate or go dormant to get through the cold, lean winter.
Amphibians are hibernators. Some species bury themselves at the bottom of ponds and others burrow into the leaf litter or even underground. Even so, amphibian species are less numerous the further north you go. Most species just can’t tolerate the deep cold and long duration of winters in extreme northern latitudes, even when hibernating.
Wood frogs (Rana sylvatica) are an exception. They are the only North American amphibian species whose range extends into the Arctic Circle. They can do this because they have the ability to survive being frozen solidCheck out this video about these amazing frogs.
Early Breeders
This ability to survive freezing also allows them to emerge from hibernation before most other frog species–sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. This early emergence allows them to breed early in the year, which gives their tadpoles more time to develop into adult frogs.
This is a big advantage, as wood frogs breed in temporary ponds called vernal pools that fill up with melted snow in late winter, but dry out completely by the end of summer. Tadpoles that don’t complete their metamorphosis before the vernal pools dry up don’t survive, so the longer they have to grow, the more will survive to adulthood.
Attracting Wood Frogs
Wood frogs can be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Upper Midwest states, as well as Alaska and throughout Canada. They can survive in suburban and even urban areas if the right habitat exists for them. Here are some tips to attract wood frogs (or any amphibian) to your yard.
  • Install a Small Garden Pond. Allow some leaves to accumulate in the bottom of your backyard pond, and make sure it has a shallow area for wildlife to enter and exit. Add plants around the banks and don’t put fish in it. If there are wood frogs in the neighborhood, they may show up in the late winter to lay their eggs.
  • Leave Your Leaves. Wood frogs spend most of their time in the fallen leaves of the forest floor, where they hide from predators and lie in wait for insects, spiders and worms to feed upon. They also hibernate right in the this leaf layer. So if you have woods on your property, preserve them and don’t rake up all your leaves in fall.
  • Don’t Use Chemicals. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers can kill frogs or eliminate their prey.
  • Plant Natives. Frogs don’t eat plants, but they eat the insects and other small animals that do. Native plants support more insects than exotic ornamental plants. A good diversity of native plants in your garden will ensure that there is plenty of food for wood frogs.
  • Give Cover. Plants also provide cover where wood frogs can hide. Consider creating a brush pile too, which mimics the fallen woody debris naturally found on the forest floor.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Adopts Flood Protection Measures

Fort Lauderdale Becomes Florida's First City to Adopt Adaptation Action Areas
Innovative Program Aims to Protect Community Against Local Flood Hazard
Fort Lauderdale, FL - Building upon its leadership in the area of sustainability, the City of Fort Lauderdale has become the first municipality in Florida to approve the use of Adaptation Action Areas to fight rising seas and coastal flooding. The new policy enables Fort Lauderdale to identify portions of the City that are vulnerable to flooding and prioritize those areas for adaptation measures and infrastructure improvements. Fort Lauderdale volunteered to serve as the project's pilot community as part of an ongoing effort to protect quality of life by increasing the City's resilience to the damaging effects of climate change. The City's successful implementation of this game-changing initiative will now serve as a model for other communities throughout Florida and around the country.
Fort Lauderdale's seven miles of shoreline and 165 miles of inland waterways, coupled with its flat topography and dense development make it susceptible to erosion, coastal flooding, storm surge, and high tides. A recent neighbor survey and communitywide visioning initiative revealed that residents are experiencing more frequent flooding in their neighborhoods, and have a greater sense of urgency to address the growing hazard. The neighbor directive prompted the City to revolutionize its operations by adopting a strategic approach that proactively considers changing climate conditions when planning for the future.
"This is a tremendous milestone for our community. We are bringing our citywide Vision to life by creating the tools we need to reduce our risk to the damaging effects of climate change. I am proud that Fort Lauderdale was able to successfully serve as a pilot community for the Adaptation Action Areas program, and I look forward to working with our regional partners to implement similar programs to address this significant environmental challenge," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. "Jack" Seiler. "Continuing to utilize a collaborative and comprehensive approach will enable us to work together today to meet the changing climate conditions of tomorrow and, by doing so, strengthen our resilience and protect our long-term livability, sustainability and prosperity."
Developed in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Broward County and the South Florida Regional Planning Council, the Adaptation Action Area initiative will serve as a program that can be replicated in other communities looking to defend against coastal hazards and related impacts of sea level rise. Approved by the City Commission and the state, the Adaptation Action Area policies were formally adopted into Fort Lauderdale's Comprehensive Plan in January 2015.
In addition to safeguarding public infrastructure, the Adaptation Action Areas are also intended to protect neighbors, resources, services, private property, and the environment from the threat of natural hazards, particularly in the coastal high-hazard areas. The policies outlined in the Comprehensive Plan address the identification of vulnerable infrastructure, development of adaptation strategies, criteria for area designation, funding options, and alignment with existing local and regional plans.
Through Adaptation Action Areas, the reconstruction of A1A, the establishment of a Sustainability Division, the active participation in the South Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, global partnerships, and numerous ongoing initiatives, the City of Fort Lauderdale is leading cooperative efforts to pursue comprehensive action that protects the region's economy and quality of life. Going forward, Fort Lauderdale will continue to actively pursue effective solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.
For more information about Fort Lauderdale's proactive sustainable initiatives and partnerships to create a stronger and more resilient community, visit the City website at

City of Fort Lauderdale
100 N. Andrews Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301

Monday, January 26, 2015

Is “resilience” the new sustainababble?

By Laurie Mazur and Denise Fairchild on 14 Jan 2015
Suddenly, "resilience" is everywhere. It's the subject of serious books and breezy news articles, of high-minded initiatives and of many, many conferences. After Superstorm Sandy, it was triumphantly plastered on city buses, declaring New Jersey "A State of Resilience."
What's going on? Does all this talk about resilience mean that we've basically given up on averting climate change and other environmental catastrophes — and that our only hope is to roll with the punches? Have we leapfrogged over denial, anger, and bargaining, landing squarely in acceptance?
Not necessarily. Resilience, like sustainability before it, is an idea with potentially transformative power. Resilience is all about our capacity to survive and thrive in the face of disruptions of all kinds. If we were to take resilience seriously (highly recommended in our increasingly disruption-prone world), we would make some far-reaching changes in how we live.
A truly resilient city would look very different from those we now inhabit — in ways that would make Grist readers proud. For example, our resilient city would:
 Or at least that's what resilience should mean. But right now, the meaning is up for grabs. And it seems that resilience might be following the same trajectory as "sustainability." That concept 
shaped the thinking of a generation of enviros, and laid the foundation for real improvements in energy efficiency, recycling, and more. But it has also been co-opted to cover up distinctly unsustainable practices, mutating into what Bob Engelman of the Worldwatch Institute calls "sustainababble." After all, it is more profitable to pretend to be sustainable than to actually be so.
Now the co-opters are hard at work on "resilience." For example, the pollutocrat-friendly American Enterprise Institute, which opposes efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promotes instead what it calls the "resilience option" for climate change. (In essence: Deal with it.)
Aside from out-and-out co-optation, there is a danger that resilience will be defined too narrowly, and deprived of its power to transform. Too often, resilience is simply seen as bouncing back after disaster (let's build bigger beach houses on the Jersey shore!) or as protecting the status quo (the Stafford Act, which funds federal disaster response, requires that everything be built back exactly as it was before).

You could say that "sustainability" was hollowed out by co-optation, but also by a failure of imagination. We enviros haven't really mounted a challenge to an economic system based on growth and profit at all costs, and we have missed opportunities to join forces with others challenging that system. If "resilience" is just about making that system stronger, it, too, will ring hollow.
So, is resilience the new sustainababble? It doesn't have to be. The need for resilience could jump-start significant changes in our built environment, our relationship with the natural world, and our relationships with one other. But to seize that opportunity, we need to get real about what resilience is — and what it isn't.
This is the first in a series of posts where we hope to do just that. We will lay out some truly transformative thinking about resilience, from a diverse group of ecologists, activists, urban planners, and others — including Grist readers. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Living near more trees means fewer antidepressants

Two Tree Thursday articles in case the maps didn’t do it for you!  -- Gene
People who live around trees are richer, healthier, safer and happier, so this just makes sense
Fri, Jan 16, 2015
London's Holland Park. (Photo: Liubov Terletska/Shutterstock)
Trees are incredibly smart. They run on sunshine, provide shade in summer and ever so kindly drop their leaves to allow the winter sun through. And now a team from the University of Exeter has determined that they are good for our mental health, too. Londoners who had more trees on their street popped fewer antidepressant pills. Eric Jaffe of Citylab reports:
The study methods were straightforward: Researchers gathered data on antidepressant prescriptions across London in 2009-2010 and paired that with data on street trees in the same area. … The numbers revealed an average of 40 trees per kilometer across the boroughs of London, with antidepressant prescriptions ranging from about 358 to 578 per 1,000 people. But the places with higher tree densities had lower prescription rates.
So what is it about trees that makes us happier people? Perhaps they know they are going to live longer, as discovered by Geoffrey Donovan who looked at comparable death rates in areas where the emerald ash-borer killed all the trees. In other research Donovan found that trees prevent crime, correlating tree coverage with crime statistics; the more trees, the lower the crime rate.
Research by the USDA's Forest Service also showed that people who live around trees are physically healthier: "About 850 lives are saved each year, the number of acute respiratory symptoms is lower by about 670,000 incidents each year, and the total health care savings attributed to pollution removal by trees is around $7 billion a year."
Over at Per Square Mile, Tim de Chant spent some quality time with Google Earth, comparing neighborhoods and finding that (surprise!) wealthy neighborhoods have more trees. He also quotes research on the subject:
They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent. But when income dropped by the same amount, demand decreased by 1.26 percent. That’s a pretty tight correlation. The researchers reason that wealthier cities can afford more trees, both on private and public property. The well-to-do can afford larger lots, which in turn can support more trees.
Indeed, piles of of research show that people who live around trees are richer, healthier, safer, live longer and just generally lead happier lives. In America, where the poor don't have as easy access to health care and prescriptions, it might skew the pill-poppers up the economic ladder. Since the National Health System in the U.K. gives pretty much everyone equal access to care and prescriptions, it shouldn't be surprising that poorer, sicker and less happy people would be taking more antidepressants.
The authors of the study claim that they have adjusted for socioeconomic status, employment status, prevalence of smoking and age. There is so much statistical noise here that it's impossible to tell what factor is actually causing the difference, but the conclusion is clear: "Street trees may have a role to play in supporting neighborhood mental health."
Amen to that.


Pretty Tree Maps Showing the State of American Forests in 1884

For Tree Thursday – great historical maps of the North America!  Gene
The Vault is Slate’s history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr.
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These tree maps, commissioned by the United States Census and published in 1884, were compiled at the direction of dendrologist and horticulturist Charles Sprague Sargent. The complete set of 16 maps, digitized by the David Rumsey Map Collection, represents American forests by genus of tree, density, and position. The USDA estimates that while the total area of forested land in the United States has diminished by 30 percent since the date of European settlement in 1630, “75 percent of net conversion to other uses occurred in the nineteenth century.” Sargent’s project was meant to capture the contours of the forest as it stood in the Victorian era. 
Click on the maps to enlarge them.  Very cool information!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Today is National Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Who knew they had their own day!  I appreciate squirrels for the exercise they give my dog (and me as I am drug along sometimes) Below are more reasons to appreciate squirrels. 
-- Gene
10 Nutty Facts to Make You Appreciate Squirrels
0 1/21/2015 // By Dani Tinker
Why exactly is National Squirrel Appreciation Day (January 21) so popular? Maybe it’s because squirrels are adorable, and extremely fun to watch. Maybe it’s the many hats they wear (not real hats — please don’t put hats on squirrels). What I mean is, they play a variety of roles, like acrobat, bandit, gardener, trickster and much more. I set out to discover why these creatures are worthy of their own day, and after you read the facts I found, you might just appreciate squirrels a little more.
1. Squirrels can find food buried beneath a foot of snow.
Food is important during the cold winter months for squirrels. It makes sense, therefore, that some species are able to smell food under a foot of snow. The squirrel will then dig a tunnel under the snow, following the scent to their (or another squirrel’s) buried treasure.
Snow covered squirrel in Massachusetts by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Susan Licht.
2. A squirrel’s front teeth never stop growing.
This is a common characteristic of other rodents, as well. The word “rodent” actually derives from the Latin “rodere,” which means to gnaw.
Squirrels must gnaw to keep their teeth at the right length. Photo by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Christine Haines.
3. Squirrels may lose 25% of their buried food to thieves.
And that’s just from members of their own species! Scatter hoarders (squirrels with multiple caches of food) have a difficult time keeping an eye on all of their hidden food. Fellow squirrels or birds often take advantage of this for a free meal.
Squirrels can be rather sneaky, stealing nuts from fellow squirrels. This one spies over a fence in Pennsylvania, taken by Michaela Wolf.
4. They zigzag to escape predators.
When squirrels feel threatened, they run away in a zigzag pattern. This is an incredibly useful strategy to escape hawks and other predators. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work so well on cars. Consider slowing down and giving squirrels a brake!
Squirrels may also take cover when threatened. This red-tail hawk tries to get a squirrel out of a knot hole in a log, where it had taken refuge. Photo by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Cara Litberg.
5. Squirrels may pretend to bury a nut to throw off potential thieves.
Squirrels have been observed engaging in “deceptive caching.” This is where a squirrel digs a hole and vigorously covers it up again, but without depositing the nut. It seems this is done to throw off potential food thieves.
Squirrel digging in the garden by Tom Gill.
6. A newborn squirrel is about an inch long.
If you come across one of these itty-bitty baby squirrels, please consult these resources, which will advise you what to do. That will help give the baby squirrel its best chance at survival.
Baby gray squirrel at approximately 4 weeks old in the care of wildlife rehabber. Photo by Audrey.
7. Humans introduced squirrels to most of our major city parks.
The story about why U.S. parks are full of squirrels is truly fascinating and worth a read.
Squirrel relaxing in a tree in Michigan. Photo by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Brian Zingler.
8. Squirrels are acrobatic, intelligent and adaptable.
Acrobatic squirrel by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant William Stayton.
9. They get bulky to stay warm during the winter.
Putting on some extra weight is one strategy squirrels use to stay warm during the cold winter months.
Extra bulk in the cold is one way squirrels stay warm. Photo by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Kelly Lyon.
10. Squirrels don’t dig up all of their buried nuts, which results in more trees!
They have accidentally contributed countless trees to our nation’s forests. If you ask me, that’s a pretty great reason to appreciate squirrels.
Squirrels play a role in planting many oak trees. This one was photographed in an oak tree in Florida by National Willdife Photo Contest entrant Linda Black.
Ways to Celebrate
If you’re looking for ways to celebrate squirrels, we have a list of ideas for you! A few highlights include:
·          Free Squirrel vs. Birdfeeder game for your iPhone.
·          Ideas to keep squirrels from raiding your bird feeders.
·          Opportunity to donate a tree through our Trees for Wildlife program.
·          A fun shirt featuring a squirrel holding a sign that says, “feed the birds.” If you’d like to follow that advice, here are some tips to providing food for wildlife in your yard.
·          Keep your bird seed safe from squirrels with this feeder, or give squirrels a feeder of their own.