Thursday, December 24, 2015

City of Fort Lauderdale's Christmas Tree Disposal

Holiday tree disposal         
Fort Lauderdale residents may place holiday trees curbside for pickup on scheduled yard waste collection days. The free service begins the week of December 28 and concludes on January 9, 2016.
The convenient service provides a more environmentally responsible method for holiday tree disposal. The curbside pickup is expected to reduce the volume of trees in the bulk waste stream. In addition, trees that are placed curbside will be specially collected by Republic Services and targeted for reuse. Removal of tree stands, tinsel, lights and ornaments from trees is required. Tree bags must also be removed.
Other traditional options for tree disposal are still available, including cutting and disposing of trees in green yard waste carts, placement in bulk pickup piles or transporting trees to a Broward County designated site. However, neighbors are encouraged to take advantage of the more eco-friendly curbside collection. Recycling trees reduces garbage disposal costs and the amount of waste going to landfills.
For more information about holiday tree disposal in the City of Fort Lauderdale, please contact the City of Fort Lauderdale's 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 954-828-8000 or

'GIF't A Tree': Help NBCUniversal and Arbor Day Foundation to Plant Trees During the Holidays

"It's been exciting, rewarding and has made a difference." Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation
NBCUniversal and the Arbor Day Foundation once again team up during the holidays to spread awareness and draw attention to the importance of planting trees.
NBCUniversals' donation of $25,000 to the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation organization, will go to planting more trees. Since 2009, the two have partnered in a large social media campaign to spread a message of holiday cheer for the environment.
Green is Universal, NBCUniversal's initiative to raising environmental awareness, and the foundation are asking participants to use the hashtag #GIFtATree and create or share GIF's, the popular animated photo files, on social media. For each post, or GIF created, the foundation will plant a tree in a state or federal forest until they have planted 25,000, which amounts to $1 a tree.
This year, #GIFtATree to the environment by:
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>Going to and creating and sharing a holiday GIF
<![if !supportLists]>·         <![endif]>Using #GIFtATree on social
Green is Universal has provided a variety of templates to create a GIF on their website. A Douglas Fir, Garry Oak, Red Maple and Longleaf Pine are available to decorate with holiday trinkets and create wintery scenes. Participants can also share pictures of their holiday trees as part of the campaign.
“It's a unique way to draw attention to the importance of trees,” Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation said. "It's been exciting, rewarding and has made a difference."
James Kolstad, the director of social innovation at NBCUniversal’s corporate social responsibility, said the foundation works with trees in the U.S.’s state and national parks that are in need of replanting due to natural forces such as fires or droughts, making Arbor Day the perfect partners for the environmental initiative.
Kolstad said giving back is a central theme to the holidays and by participating in the social media campaign, anyone can have fun while giving back to the environment.
“The beauty of the GIF’t A Tree campaign is that there are so many ways to participate,” he said. “For each of those actions, you’re helping to plant real trees for the holidays.”
“GIF’t A Tree” will last the whole month of December and kicks-off Wednesday Dec. 2, the same day as the “2015 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting,” a tradition practiced in New York City since 1933. A Norway Spruce currently sits on Fifth Ave., and between 49th and 50th Street ready to dazzle the Big Apple.
Published at 6:41 AM EST on Dec 9, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

How to reduce food waste this holiday season

  • Date: December 15, 2015
  • Author: Pete Pearson
Pete Pearson works on food waste prevention and the intersection of agriculture and wildlife. Follow him on Twitter @petedpearson.
The holiday season is upon us, which means spending time with friends and family. And it almost certainly means enjoying holiday parties where food is front and center during the celebration. As the “food waste guy” at WWF, I always attract comments at the buffet line. Without doubt, I will hear calls to “clean my plate” and “we’d better not waste food with Pete around.”
While the attention can be repetitive, we might all need a “food waste guy” around to remind us how our attitude about food needs to change.
  • Agriculture accounts for 70% of the fresh water used by people and nearly 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • About 29% of global fish stocks are over-exploited and 61% are fully-exploited.
  • Agriculture is the largest driver of tropical deforestation.
  • The EPA estimates that during the holidays our household waste increases by about 25%.
My job at WWF was created to promote a more efficient food system that reduces waste. When we throw away food, we’re also throwing away the land, water, and energy used to produce that food.
“When we throw away food, we’re also throwing away the land, water, and energy used to produce that food. ”  -- Pete Pearson Director of Food Waste, WWF 
Agriculture is vital for human survival, but its expansion is the leading cause of stress on the last remaining biodiverse regions around the globe—this at a time when we grow enough food to feed everyone and between 30-40% of what we grow never makes it to a dinner plate.
If we can make more food available from what’s already produced—by minimizing waste—we might slow deforestation in the Amazon or preserve the grasslands in the Northern Great Plains.
If you’re passionate about conservation, consider this: preventing and reducing food waste is one of the best things you can do to conserve natural resources and wildlife.
This holiday season, avoid tossing food in the trash by taking these steps:
  • Try not to over prepare food; instead try to prepare “just enough.”
  • Encourage friends and family to take leftovers home.
  • Store leftovers in the freezer to enjoy after you’ve had a break from them for a little while.
  • Search “holiday leftover recipes” online for new ideas.
The key is to get creative and prevent waste from even occurring. Make preventing food waste your personal act of conservation.

Friday, December 18, 2015

In The Maine Woods, A Towering Giant Could Help Save Chestnuts

December 17, 2015
This is the tallest known American chestnut tree in North America, clocking in at precisely 115 feet. It's an exciting find for those seeking to eventually restore the tree to its previous habitat. Susan Sharon/MPBN
Thanks to Nat King Cole, it's hard not think of chestnuts without conjuring an image of them "roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose." But these days, you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone roasting American chestnuts over an open fire. The trees and the nuts have all but disappeared.
But now, scientists are excited about the discovery of an American chestnut tree in the woods of western Maine, a record-breaking tree that's giving them hope for the future.
Shane Duigan of the Maine Forest Service takes measurements of the chestnut as media look on. Susan Sharon/MPBN
Growing straight and tall, chestnut trees were once prized for timber. Vendors still roast and sell European chestnuts on the streets of Manhattan, fragrant aroma and all. But the American chestnut which once dominated the Eastern woodlands, from Maine to Georgia, was virtually wiped out by a blight that was accidentally introduced from Asia.
That's why on a recent, rainy December day, a gaggle of reporters, photographers and members of the American Chestnut Foundation trudged into the woods of Lovell, Maine, to confirm some crucial measurements of a chestnut tree growing in the wild.
As girth goes, this chestnut tree is not impressive: At 16.1 inches, it's on the skinny side. Except for its long, slender leaves, and spiny, urchin-like burs, most people wouldn't pick it out as distinctive in a forest lineup, especially this time of year, when both the leaves and the burs are littering the ground.
But Brian Roth, a forest scientist with the University of Maine, says when it comes to height, this American chestnut reigns supreme.
"We think it's around 100 years old," Roth says. "It's over 100 feet tall, which makes it the tallest tree that we know of in North America."
That's 115 feet tall, to be precise. But beyond its exceptional height, Roth and members of the American Chestnut Foundation are interested in this chestnut because of its ability to survive. Surrounded by a cluster of equally tall pine trees, it was discovered in July from the air, distinguished by the large white flowers in its crown.
Bucky Owen of the Maine Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation holds two American chestnut leaves. Susan Sharon/MPBN
"Old-timers talk about the hillsides in the Appalachian Mountains being covered in flowers as if it was snow, and so we were able to key in on the particular week that these were blooming and ... find this tree," Roth says.
Roth says DNA from the tree will be preserved in a living gene bank. It's all part of a larger effort by the North-Carolina based American Chestnut Foundation to restore the chestnut to its historic range.
With the help of 6,000 devoted volunteers, the foundation has developed a complex breeding program to raise a hearty American chestnut that is resistant to the fungus and that can someday be reintroduced to the wild. (As The Salt has reported, separate efforts are also underway to create a genetically engineered American chestnut that's resistant to blight.)
Foundation president Lisa Thomson says the American chestnut is "an underdog. You know, everybody loves an underdog. And they see hope in the future, real promise of the future to bring this species back."
Thomson says she and her volunteers won't see a cathedral of chestnuts in the forest in their lifetimes, but their grandchildren will. And that's enough of a vision to keep them singing the chestnut's song.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why manicured lawns should become a thing of the past

By Adrian Higgins December 2, 2015
Many folks, not to mention homeowners associations, cling to that model of the American yard as one of clipped foundation shrubs, groomed lawns and trees with mulch circles. Naked soil must be blanketed spring and fall with shredded mulch. Fallen leaves are treated as trash.
The real gardening world left this fusty model years ago, embracing soft groupings of perennials, grasses and specimen trees and shrubs in a celebration of plants and a closer communion with nature.
Thomas Rainer and Claudia West are two young plant designers — he’s 39, she’s 32 — who cut their teeth on this aesthetic and are among a new wave of influential practitioners who are pushing this naturalism to the next level.
They reject the popular approach of using indigenous plants exclusively to redeem a wilderness because such a place no longer exists: We’ve spent four centuries on this continent erasing it. Instead, we can bring a natural idiom to all the green places that we live with. Because more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, that means rooftops, city gardens, old suburban yards, parking lots, utility easements, highway medians and the rest.
If we accept that nature as we imagined it resides in the past, they argue, we are free to turn all these immediate spaces, including our gardens, into naturalistic landscapes that will be more satisfying and less work than the lawn and manicured-shrubbery approach.
This premise is not entirely new: A generation ago, top designers were espousing “the New American Garden” with many of the same principles, of replacing lawns and shrubbery with perennials and ornamental grasses.
What has changed at the vanguard of garden design? Many more varieties of perennials are widely available now than in the 1990s and, moreover, the approach to planting design is changing fundamentally.
Rainer, West and others are promoting a shift from clumping and grouping plant varieties to mixing them in a way that occurs in nature. Discrete clumps are replaced with interplanted varieties equipped by nature to live cheek by jowl.
“The key is to pay attention to how plants fit together,” Rainer said. “To pay attention to their shape and behavior.” This involves not only their growth patterns aboveground, but their root types, which permit plants that are surface-rooted, such as many ground covers, to coexist with deep-rooted meadow flowers and grasses.
Such landscapes can look unexpectedly decorative in fall and winter, as the grasses become burnished by the cold and the remnant stalks and seed heads of perennials capture frost and snow.

The design concept allows plant layering that carries ornament beyond the growing season. (Mark Baldwin/Timber Press)
Significantly, the designers reject the broadly held notion that naturalistic planting has to be of native plants, arguing that a plant’s performance and adaptability are more important than its lineage. “The question is not what grew there in the past but what will grow there in the future,” Rainer and West write in their new book, “Planting in a Post-Wild World.” Aimed at design professionals — though of appeal to anyone who loves the process of gardening — the book is both a design manual and a manifesto.
They see the garden as no longer a collection of plants but rather a designed plant community. This is distilled into three layers. In a sunny, meadow-like garden, the uppermost layer takes the form of beefier structural perennials such as Joe-Pye weed, cup plant or Indian grass. The middle layer is the showiest and provides seasonal peaks with such things as daisies, daylilies, butterfly weeds or bee balms.
The most important layer, the ground cover, is the least showy. Forget tired spreads of English ivy or pachysandra; Rainer and West are thinking of sedges, small grasses, rushes. In shade gardens, the floor layer would consist of such woodland beauties as foamflower, trilliums, gingers and Allegheny spurge.
“The approach to ground cover is, for us, the single most important concept of creating a functioning plant community,” they write. “Think about seeing plants in the wild; there is almost never bare soil.”
The ground cover not only knits together the whole plant community physically and emotionally, but also performs an important horticultural function. Soil left bare will invite weeds, so we smother it in mulch, which has its value, but we keep piling it on for aesthetic rather than horticultural reasons. This is inherently unsustainable and expensive, and keeps lonely plantings in a perpetual state of establishment.
Rainer, who lives in Arlington, is a landscape architect at Rhodeside & Harwell in Alexandria. West is a horticulturist and designer with North Creek Nurseries in Landenberg, Pa. Both are popular speakers at symposiums and conventions across the country, where they reach leading landscape designers and horticulturists receptive to this ecological approach.
“It’s going to be the future of landscape design,” said W. Gary Smith, a Toronto- and New York-based landscape architect and a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ education advisory committee. “What these guys are doing is showing how to plant landscapes from the soil up. It’s not just about plant combinations, textures, colors; it’s about looking at plant communities in the wild as an inspiration for design. It’s a hybrid of horticulture and ecology, and it’s been a long time coming.”
“It’s a great concept to be presenting, and hopefully landscape architects and designers will move forward with this,” said Adam Woodruff, a garden designer from Clayton, Mo., who has embraced this approach with elan. “It’s not a style for everyone and it’s not something everyone can do; you have to have an understanding of the plants you’re working with for it to be effective.”

A stylized dry meadow garden designed by Adam Woodruff. (Adam Woodruff/Timber Press)
This form of gardening is very exciting, promising to introduce many more underused plants into our gardens and, moreover, to create herbaceously dominant landscapes that are dynamic, ecologically kind and most of all, profoundly beautiful when executed with skill. The potential for it to go wrong is pretty great, though, especially if it is done on a half-baked basis. It takes fortitude and a large budget to plant perennials and ground covers by the hundreds, and I can envision stabs at this that are too timid. One hopes that retail nurseries will make affordable plug plants available to consumers who are willing to maintain a young garden and wait for it to fill in.
The concept faces other obstacles. How do you get people who aren’t gardeners to understand that an assembly of hairy plants is not a weed patch? Rainer told me that it is incumbent on designers to create gardens that can be read as such — by adding more floriferous varieties to the mix, by selecting lower-growing varieties and by setting these plant communities in strong architectural frames with clear edges. “It puts the burden on designers to design in a way that it doesn’t look wild,” he said. “The best design interprets nature; it doesn’t imitate it.”

The rooftop garden at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh. The massed planting of sedum and the path temper the wildness of the mixed meadow planting. (Sarah Thompson/Timber Press)
What about landscape crews programmed to mow, blow, chop back dead top growth and apply pesticides and fertilizers on a schedule rather than nurture a naturalistic design through its establishment stages and through four seasons? “I feel strongly that these mixes can be much lower maintenance,” he said. In the book, he and West talk about a move away from landscape maintenance to a lower pitch of management.
“This is a system based on knowledge rather than labor, and that’s self-limiting in its own way,” he said. “But we feel there is a paradigm shift in how plants are read, and as that knowledge catches up, there can be great benefits to landscape crews and home gardeners alike.”

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

12 Wins for Wildlife YOU Made Possible in 2015

12/11/2015 // By Collin O'Mara
Looking back at 2015, I’m incredibly proud of wins we achieved together for America’s wildlife.
With friends of wildlife like you by our side, we helped restore more wild bison to the Great Plains, launched rescue efforts for our dwindling monarch butterflies, and certified thousands of new acres of wildlife habitat in cities, schools and places of worship throughout the country.
The truth is, none of this is easy. The challenges facing wildlife are many. Water pollution and droughts, massive habitat loss and fragmentation, and climate change are driving record numbers of species toward extinction.
But you and I don’t protect wildlife because it’s easy. Together we stand up for our cherished wildlife and wild landscapes because it’s right.
All you do for wildlife is making a difference. Feel proud of these wins for wildlife. You made them happen.
Win #1
WILD BISON: A Prairie Homecoming Decades in the Making
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Panagiotis Laskararkis.
Thanks to supporters like you, 2015 was another great year for work with partners and affiliates in restoring wild bison to their historic native habitat on western lands.
Earlier this year, over 60 genetically pure Yellowstone bison were restored to open lands in Nebraska. These restorations add to the 195 wild bison transferred over the past few years in Montana to Fort Peck Indian Reservation, and 34 more bison brought to Fort Belknap Reservation.
WIN #2
DOLPHINS: Winning the Gulf Restoration Funding They Need and Deserve
Photo by Alison Henry, NEFSC/NOAA.
Five years and two months after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, the Justice Department and the five Gulf states announced the ground-shaking news that they had reached an $18.7 billion settlement with BP to help restore the Gulf.
And habitat restoration can’t come fast enough for some bottlenose dolphins in the Gulf, a species severely stressed by and still struggling with the effects of the spill.
This would have NEVER happened without relentless pressure from friends of wildlife like you.
As you read this, scientists and advocates are working on the ground in all the Gulf states to ensure BP’s fines are spent on projects that will benefit Gulf wildlife.
WIN #3
MOOSE: New Hope for Wildlife with New Energy Plan
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Richard Seeley.
Massive and majestic, moose require cool climates to thrive, and are being devastated by the warmer temperatures and exploding pest populations caused by global climate change, such as winter ticks.
In August, President Obama released the final Clean Power Plan, the first ever rules designed to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, which emit 40 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions.
It’s a game-changing step secured after years of advocacy by wildlife and environmental advocates.
WIN #4
MONARCH BUTTERFLIES: Habitat Restoration Efforts Move Gains Steam
Photo by Laura Tangley/NWF.
Working to reverse the dramatic decline of monarch butterflies, your support helped us partner with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and our affiliates to plant and help protect milkweed in areas along the monarch’s migratory route.
Even mayors are getting in on the action with the National Wildlife Federation’s Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay launched the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge, a national campaign to engage mayors and local leaders to take specific actions in their communities to help save monarchs.
Great job from our entire community of friends who care about the beautiful monarch butterfly.
WIN #5
MOUNTAIN LION: Plans for World’s Largest Wildlife Bridge Moves Forward
Photo by National Park Service.
In August, another California mountain lion died trying to cross a busy freeway. P32’s tragic end, and the untimely deaths of 12 other mountain lions like him are why the National Wildlife Federation is leading the charge for a safe wildlife crossing in the hills outside Los Angeles.
More than 44,000 National Wildlife Federation friends of wildlife spoke out in support of the project and in September, the state of California unveiled plans for a 165-foot wide bridge that would span all ten lanes of Highway 101 in Agoura Hills.
When built, it will be the biggest wildlife crossing in the world!
WIN #6
RIVER OTTER: Historic Day for Protecting Wetland and Stream Habitat
Photo by Kenny Bahr, USFWS Midwest.
River otters make their homes near waterways and are extremely sensitive to water pollution.
So, after many years of advocacy work to get policies needed to protect these waters, we were thrilled to stand with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy as she signed the new Clean Water Rule, which restored protections for more than two million miles of streams and millions of acres of wetlands.
Steadfast support for clean water from friends of wildlife made the difference in the long, uphill battle to get these protections over the finish line!
WIN #7
BLUE CRAB: Plan Approved to Take Pollutants Out of Chesapeake Bay Waters
Cleaner water is coming for blue crabs. In July, a federal court of appeals upheld the historic cleanup plan for the Chesapeake Bay. The National Wildlife Federation, with the backing of people like you, has supported the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in this lawsuit since it was filed in 2011.
The plan aims to cut nutrient and sediment pollution entering our waters by 2025. These forms of pollution cause dead zones and algal blooms that are toxic to wildlife.
WIN #8
MOUNTAIN GOAT: Wilderness Areas Receive Federal Protection
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Jesse Lee Varnado.
Three cheers for safeguarding habitat for wildlife like mountain goats and bobcats…thousands of acres of their wilderness habitat is protected!
In February, President Obama named Colorado’s stunning 22,000 acres of Browns Canyon America’s newest national monument, a designation that affords forever protection.
And in August, the president signed “The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act,” permanently safeguarding 275,665 acres of wildlife-rich areas in central Idaho.
The designations were the result of decades of advocacy by wildlife, recreation and conservation advocates.
WIN #9
HUMMINGBIRDS: Thousands of Acres of NEW Wildlife Habitat
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Leah Serna.
Backyard birds, along with our native bees, need some serious habitat help. This year, cities, schools, families and businesses stepped up in a big way to help by gardening for wildlife, restoring and adding thousands of new acres of healthy habitat for birds and many more species of wildlife.
Certified Wildlife Habitats grew by by almost 10,000 this year! When families and businesses become certified, they restore habitat by providing food, water, cover and a place for wildlife – like hummingbirds – to raise their young.
318 more schools – from preschools to universities – joined our Schoolyard Habitat program this year. That means thousands of kids gained a connection to nature and wildlife. Schools in the program do everything from creating planter boxes and gardens, to restoring native prairie, to creating wetlands!
And nearly 20 cities and communities, including Houston, TX, and Missoula, MT,  joined our Community Wildlife Habitat Program — municipalities that are committed to greening in a way that’s wildlife friendly.
WIN #10
GRIZZLY BEAR: Surpassing 1 Million Acres of Safe Habitat near Yellowstone
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Sandy Sisti.
As Yellowstone National Park grizzly bears wander outside park boundaries to adjoining public lands where livestock graze, they are at increased risk due to conflicts and disease from domestic livestock. But a new high-water mark was set this past year in providing conflict-free habitat for wildlife like grizzlies that are part of the amazing Yellowstone ecosystem.
In January, through our Adopt-a-Wildlife Acre program supported by people like you, the 22,000-acre Upper Gros Ventre cattle allotment, located south of Yellowstone near Jackson, Wyoming, was turned into a safe haven for grizzlies and gray wolves. This was done by compensating ranchers for removing their livestock from leased federal lands like Gros Ventre.
In a little over a decade, this wildly successful program has secured over 1 million acres of safe habitat for wildlife on public lands.
WIN #11
TREES FOR WILDLIFE: Native Trees Planted, Longleaf Pine Forests Get a Boost
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Lisa Culp.
Trees are essential habitat for many wildlife species ranging from birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. They provide food, water, cover and places to raise young.
Thanks to friends of wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation supports community and education groups to plant thousands of native trees each year to help restore habitat for wildlife. In 2015, almost 30,000 native trees were planted!
And good news for our efforts to restore the incredibly beautiful longleaf pine forests which at one time widely ranged across the Southeast: the USDA allocated Farm Bill funds in January to protect and restore dwindling forests and wildlife habitats throughout the region.
WIN #12
CARIBOU: Keystone XL Pipeline Denied! Huge Threat Removed From Boreal Forest Habitat
Photo by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Tony Attanasio.
Millions spoke up against long odds to demand a better future for wildlife, and on November 6th, President Obama rejected the ill-conceived Keystone XL pipeline.
It was a monumental victory for wildlife like caribou, a species that has suffered immensely from the devastating extraction of tar sands oil. By stopping the pipeline, wildlife advocates like you prevented the accelerated destruction of caribou’s ancient and irreplaceable boreal forest habitat.
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Reindeer or Caribou?