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C’mon, Give Yourself an Environmental Shout Out!

2010 March 16

About 4 years ago, we decided to start a hiking club.  We have an autistic son and before we knew about all the family-oriented activities out there for autistic kids, we didn’t know what we could do.  We wanted something that would involve the whole family – parents, autistic kids, and their typically developing siblings – in an environment where everyone could relax and not worry about being judged by others.  Thus was born the Trophies Hike Club.  Every Sunday at 10 a.m., we meet in the parking lot or visitor center of one of many parks in the area.

We now have a group of 5-6 families (and 5-6 dogs!) that venture out every weekend — rain or shine — and it’s been a fabulous tradition that has grown with us.  Hike club has been a perfect venue to teach the kids some important things…respect wildlife, be fascinated by the impact of the changing seasons and the changing courses of the waterways and trails, not littering, and generally respecting each other and the folks, plants and animals we encounter on our walks.

We are planning to order water quality sampling kits (because what kid wouldn’t want to step into a muddy stream, plant a mesh leaf bag in order to later retrieve it and inspect the creepy crawlers that may be found within).  We also pick up litter as we go.  Are we environmentalists?  Maybe.  But let’s step this up a notch: what if we had a way to share our activities with others – inspire others with the idea of our hiking club?  And also give the kids kudos by announcing their forays into the forest on the World Wide Web.

Well, now we do have a way – environmental shout outs in EPA’s MyEnvironment.  A couple of weeks ago, we added the capability for the public to report their “good-for-the-environment” activities within the context of MyEnvironment.  We hear about folks buying their first composter, local all-green salons, Boy Scout river cleanups, and much more.  MyEnvironment was a way for the public to find environmental information about their neighborhood.  Now they will find out not just what the EPA is doing in their community, but also what the community is doing in their community.  That’s open government.

About the author: Kim Balassiano has worked in EPA’s Office of Environmental Information since 2007. Before that, she was an EPA contractor for 12 years, doing mapping and spatial analysis.  This blog is part of an ongoing series about the EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Al Bannet permalink
    March 16, 2010

    In the short term hiking clubs are great and the hikers can keep the trails clean. The problem is the human population keeps on growing, so every year there are more hikers, picnickers, hunters, etc.; and today drug growers and dealers are using the Parks for their illegal activities, so hikers are more in danger from other humans than from bears and mountains lions. We need to peacefully reduce the human population, then there would be plenty of reasonably safe wilderness for everyone.

  2. murray mccory permalink
    March 16, 2010

    Thank you for supporting hiking trails for everyone. I am from Washington state, and worked for 20 years with the Dept of Public Works, writing environmental permits for county projects. We took advantage of grants to build trails. The IAC, developed by a previous governor and peers, furnishes fund raising for these trails all over the state. True visionary’s see the great potential of hiking trails joining communities, businesses, schools, all away from VEHICLE roads. In our county we are building a trail along a 12 mile railroad grade. (it was the original intention of the federal gov. that all abandoned rail road rights of way were to return to the public for transportation purposes, and not to be sold off in pieces.) This new trail will be electric wheel chair accessible, and all people from families, students, special needs people, bicyclists, will use the trail for health, recreation, learning about wildlife, history, plants, nature, and transportation to and from communities.
    My final comment is this: will the EPA consider the enforcement of all policy that protects American environment be enforced world wide. This means no American taxpayer dollars may be used to subsidize off-shore drilling, open pit mining, by foreign companies whom do not meet EPA standards. And community trails should be subsidized world wide, to help join communities together. Allow American tax dollars to be spent on ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY projects ONLY.

  3. Al Bannet permalink
    March 17, 2010

    The “sustainable growth” policy can justify almost any industrial project if it only includes a pro-forma demonstration of environmental concern. Off shore drilling is innately destructive, but if the oil companies dress it up to look innocent they will be approved because the growing World economy runs on oil. That is the key: the growing World economy, and so far I haven’t heard any discussion of this dilemma by anyone at the EPA. Did I miss something?

  4. murray mccory permalink
    March 17, 2010

    I have been trying to get through to the EPA on this issue of transparency of their policy of GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS versus our TAX DOLLARS being used to support any industry that violates EPA requirements for the USA. You haven’t missed anything, the EPA seems to be avoiding the issue entirely. America is regulated by the EPA, but the growing WORLD ECONOMY gets our tax dollars to support the competing industries. OSHA is another that protects American workers, but the USA imports clothing and other products made in child labor sweatshops in foreign countries, subsidizes big oil for foreign off-shore drillers, imports food that, highly regulated in the USA, is toxic and contaminated. Exports drugs, herbicides, pesticides that are regulated out of use in the USA. This new open gov. forum is refreshing, but provides little guidance or assistance to the AMERICAN CITIZEN, who doesn’t know how to ask the right questions.
    this is what I get when I submit: Sorry, but it seems you are a Spambot.

  5. Al Bannet permalink
    March 18, 2010

    I think I agree with you, but what is a “Spambot”?

  6. Aileen Black permalink
    March 18, 2010

    One fact that we might be missing here is that while we are all consumers of energy, one of the biggest consumers of energy in the U.S. economy is the federal government. And, while new mandates around “green IT” and other sustainability initiatives are tackling this issue head-on, just imagine the difference it would make if government employees played their part too.

    Here at VMware we are trying to wave the flag for energy efficiency by joining forces with the government to help promote a sustainable environment through energy efficiency. Which is why we are encouraging government employees to join us in taking the Government Energy Challenge during the 30-days leading up to Earth Day on April 22.

    It’s not a big deal, just a few slight adjustments in their day-to-day office routines to help reduce unnecessary energy consumption. Simple things like turning your desk light or computer monitor off when you are not there. When we all work together to make little adjustments, big results are possible.

  7. nike dunks permalink
    January 14, 2011

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  8. Denise permalink
    March 8, 2011

    Thanks for sharing this very informative details. Keep sharing!

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