beach

Four Things to Remember on the Fourth

By Maddie Dwyer

 Maddie, last Fourth of July, at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.


Maddie, last Fourth of July, at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland.

During the summer, it’s hard to think of anything other than vacations, cookouts, family, and friends. I find this to be especially true during the excitement of the Fourth of July. The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays; I love the parties, the fireworks, and the awesome outfits! During this time of patriotism and national pride, it’s easy to forget about some important summer environmental issues, and this leads to people like myself to get horribly sunburned and exposed to other significant health risks.

Here at EPA, there are four things we recommend you keep in mind while enjoying the summer fun.

  • Air quality: The increased temperatures, humidity, and pollen of summer can translate to poor air quality. It’s important to keep in mind when you go outside. You can check the air quality in your area, or the area you are vacationing in, using our AirNow website or mobile app.
  • Beach safety and protection: Beaches are a top summer vacation destination. If you find yourself at one this summer, be aware of the issues that can affect your health and safety. From marine sanitation to dune protection, EPA has lots of great resources to help you plan a fun and safe trip to the beach.
  • UV index: It’s a no-brainer that sunburns and UV over exposure are more common in the summer. EPA’s UV Index, which can give you a UV risk forecast for your zip code, is a great resource to use when you are planning a day in the sun.
  • Going green at home: The fourth and final thing to keep in mind this Fourth of July (and beyond) is what you can do at home to protect the environment. A lot of people want to be greener at home, but are unsure of where to start. Check out EPA’s Resources for Concerned Citizens for some ideas on saving energy, conserving water, and much more.

So this Fourth of July, break out your coolest red, white and blue clothes, watch some fireworks, and protect yourself and the environment.

 

Fireworks display in Washington DC

Fireworks display in Washington DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the author:  Maddie Dwyer studies environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland. She works as an intern for EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

 

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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A Morning By The Lake

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Amy Miller

My family arrived at our campsite to a gray, evening drizzle. Not too wet to enjoy a kayak, nor too wet to keep us from making a fire and eating turkey dogs off sticks. The beach umbrella propped against a picnic table was ample protection. And we got our reward for persevering. “It doesn’t get much better than this,” remarked a woman on the lake trail as she ogled the double, 180-degree arch of vibrant color like you only expect in children’s books. I looked for the pot of gold.

The rain stopped in time to set up in the dark. The winds whispered above, sending droplets onto our tent. By morning the sky was clear and the islands of Pawtuckaway Lake were calling us out in our kayaks.

Pawtuckaway State Park sits in the middle of southern New Hampshire. Straddling the towns of Raymond and Nottingham, Pawtuckaway has trails, waterfront campsites, rock walls, marshes and a lake with nooks, crannies, big islands, little islands, blueberry-filled islands and a beach.

Unfortunately, it also can have contamination. The beach was half-closed when we were there. Not totally closed, but trimmed with yellow warnings signs that it might not be safe to swim. The problem, according to a nice woman who got my phone call, is that sometimes the bacteria count is too high at the beach. It was only 125 counts per 100 milliliters of water, close to the 88 count cut-off. Outside the beach area the lake was fine, and a few days later, by August, it was all fine again. The bacteria is caused by people and animals, mainly geese and recreating crowds. Beavers and other animals that love the marshes don’t help, nor does rain. But the warning signs didn’t seem to bother the hundreds of people grilling recipes from India, Malaysia, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Maine. The sun blazing overhead, dozens of people were splashing about happily.

The state tests the water every other day or so. Since 1996, and more regularly since 2000, they have taken 461 samples. Of those, 34 have come back above acceptable standards. The geese, and people who feed them, are apparently among the first offenders.

When we tumbled out of our tent in the morning, a great blue heron was sitting comfortably at the water’s edge, as if to say “Welcome to my campsite; you may stay, if you like.” We stared at him for about 30 minutes.

Then we decided to make breakfast, smokey toast and hot cocoa. We knew not to share it with the ducks, and the heron knew not to ask.

More EPA info on beach monitoring in New England states, including New Hampshire lakes.

About the author: Amy Miller is a writer who works in the public affairs office of EPA New England in Boston. She lives in Maine with her husband, two children, eight chickens, dusky conure,  dog and a great community.

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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Pick Up Your Trash!

By Lina Younes

On the first day of my trip to the beach, I was getting ready to unwind and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

There was hardly anybody in the area we had selected. The setting was idyllic. The powder-like sand, the warm sea breeze, the rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves were setting the right ambiance for a relaxing vacation. As I looked out at the water, however, something caught my attention.
Was it a jellyfish? Was it some other small fish? It wasn’t a bird, so what was it? Well, although the actual sand was very clean, there were some things floating in the water. I got closer and I saw some snack wrappers, candy wrappers, plastic bags and other objects. In other words, marine debris. I guess they might have floated into the water from the nearby public beach or had been left behind by previous vacationers. So what did I do? Well, I proceeded to pick up the floating objects. I even enlisted the help of my youngest daughter and nephew. We filled two small trash cans! On day two of our trip, I hardly saw anything in the floating in the water. At the end of our vacation, we left the beach cleaner than when we first got there.

Did you know that you can make a difference by disposing of your trash properly and preventing it from being carried by rain into a body of water? Did you know that marine debris, especially plastics, is harmful to wildlife and the environment as a whole. Seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles often ingest floating plastic bags and debris with lethal consequences.

Here’s an EPA video that will shed some light on the adverse effects of marine debris. Even if you don’t go to the beach or live by the coast, there are many things you can do to protect our waterways in your own home. Following the three R’s, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, is a good place to start.

So, next time you go to the beach or park, please pick up after yourself. Don’t leave trash behind. Do you have any tips you would like to share with us? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

 

 

 

 

 

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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King Tides and Sea Level Rise, Part 2

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer
By Nancy Stoner

Growing up in Virginia, I loved it when my family went to the beach each summer. The beach was a place where we could have fun together. Now, as the acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, I am well aware how climate change may impact the seashore and our estuaries.

Coastal processes such as tides don’t just happen right at the seashore. Tides can extend far up into our estuaries and rivers; we have tides in the Washington D.C., which is 188 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Sea level rise is a concern here and all around the U.S. too. The relative rate of sea level rise measured at the Washington D.C. tide gauge from 1924 through 2012 is equivalent to 13 inches in 100 years. Sea level is projected to rise even faster in the coming decades. Higher sea levels are potential threats to water infrastructure, to homes, to our drinking water supply, and to wetlands and coastal environments.

This month, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will be seeing their highest tides of the year in a couple of weeks. These “king tides” can cause tidal flooding in coastal communities. King tides provide a glimpse of the future, and provide us with a glimpse of potential future impacts from rising sea levels, and how things could look if sea levels do not recede. The Middle Atlantic Center for Geography & Environmental Studies website shows where and when king tides are expected to happen.

You can help record king tides through photography. The King Tides International Network recently launched a photo contest to help record king tides from all over the world. You can also submit photos of king tides to EPA’s State of the Environment Photo Project. And, for more information about climate change adaptation please visit EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries program on the web.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

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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Question of the Week: How was the water quality on your last beach trip?

Americans make an estimated 900 million trips to coastal areas each year. “The beach” is a classic vacation or day trip – but before you go, check your beach water quality.

How was the water quality on your last beach trip?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

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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Enjoying the Scenery

About the author: Brenda Reyes Tomassini joined EPA in 2002. She is a public affairs specialist in the San Juan, Puerto Rico office and also handles community relations for the Caribbean Environmental Protection Division.

Lea la versión en español a continuación de esta entrada en inglés.
Some links exit EPA or have Spanish content. Exit EPA Disclaimer

Photo of a cloudy day at the beachAs I drive down the road following the vehicle in front of me, I can’t stop wondering about the beautiful surroundings. With every glimpse, as I try to slow down and drive through this narrow rural coastal road, Isabela’s sand dunes reveal before my eyes like a never ending spectacle. This is the part of my job I enjoy the most! It is a beautiful hot Monday with no clouds in sight and with every mile I feel the urge to dip into the clear blue water. Héctor Varela, my companion, a surfer and member of NUPA an NGO from the town of Isabela, stops at the end of the road and urges me to step outside of the comfortable 69F inside my car. I am taken aback by the foul smell coming from an area known to surfers as Guayabo. This is what I came here for: the smell. What began as a preoccupation some surfers had, has turned into a brand new assignment: coordinating a meeting between CEPD and the community to hear their concerns and find a solution to the problem.

This part of Isabela, known as Barrio Jobos is a paradise for tourists and local beach lovers. The panoramic views, submarine caves and great surfing provide the recreation and beauty that attracts thousands of people every year. A few years ago the problem was the trash on the highly dense areas of Jobos. Another NGO, Rescate Playas Isabela, adopted the beaches and began a massive restoration and cleanup project that has garnered them an EPA’s EQA in 2008. The ongoing work of these two NGO’s is an example of how environmental vigilance has come a long way from protesting as NGO’s have transformed into allies of the economic and tourism sector to showcase not only our natural resources but to be vigilant whenever they are being endangered and seek the advice from regulatory agencies.

Disfrutando del Paisaje

Mientras sigo al vehículo que va frente a mi no puedo dejar de admirar el bello paisaje a mi alrededor. Con cada vistazo y mientras trato de reducir la velocidad en esta carretera rural, las dunas de arena de la costa Isabelina
se revelan ante mis ojos como un espectáculo que no quiere terminar . Esta es la parte de mi trabajo que más disfruto! Es un lunes hermoso, el cielo está perfecto sin nubes y con cada milla que recorro siento la urgente necesidad de lanzarme al agua que luce de un hermoso tono azul turquesa claro. Héctor Varela, mi acompañante, conduce el auto que va al frente. El es un “surfer” y miembro del grupo ambiental comunitario Nación Unida Pro Ambiente (NUPA)
quienes están ubicados en la ciudad norteña de Isabela, famosa por las dunas que acabo de describir. Al llegar al final de nuestra travesía Héctor me pide que me baje del auto y abandone los cómodos 65F del acondicionador de aire. Lo hago con gusto ya que el paisaje es hermoso. Afuera el viento sopla hacia el norte y el calor, la humedad y el olor son insoportables. Hay algo huele mal y para eso he venido aquí a este sector conocido como Guayabo. Lo que comenzó como una preocupación de un grupo de “surfers” se ha convertido ahora para mí en una nueva asignación. Tengo que coordinar una reunión entre los residentes de esta comunidad y el personal de nuestra División de Protección Ambiental del Caribe (CEPD), a la que pertenezco, para hablar de este problema y encontrarle una solución.

Esta parte de Isabela, el Barrio Jobos, es un paraíso para turistas y amantes de la playa. Las vistas panorámicas, las cuevas submarinas y las olas perfectas para el “surfing” proveen el tipo de recreación y belleza que atrae a miles de personas cada año a estas costas. Hace pocos años el problema de la basura en las áreas más pobladas y visitadas de Jobos era un problema. Ya no lo es gracias al esfuerzo de otro grupo comunitario Rescate Playas Isabela, quienes no solo limpiaron y adoptaron las playas como lo anuncian los rótulos, si no que llevan a cabo esfuerzos masivos por mantenerlas limpias y concienzar a los visitantes y residentes. Todo este esfuerzo les ha valido un Envirormental Quality Award este año, este es el reconocimiento más alto que otorga la Región 2 a aquellos grupos, instituciones o personas que protegen el medioambiente. El trabajo de estos dos grupos NUPA y Rescate Playas Isabela es un claro ejemplo de cómo el rol vigilante de los grupos ambientales de base comunitaria se ha transformado de la protesta a la colaboración. Ellos son aliados vitales para que la economía y el turismo puedan progresar al mantener limpios nuestros más preciados recursos naturales no solo para el disfrute de los residentes pero también de aquellos que los visitan.

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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